The Life Cycle of Software Products

Overview

The Life Cycle of Software Products, included in the GREENSOFT Model, is a Life Cycle Thinking inspired product life cycle that can also be attributed with “from cradle-to-grave”. Its objective is to enable stakeholders to assess impacts on Sustainable Development (abbr. SD).

The Life Cycle consists of the following phases:

Effects of ICTs on Sustainable Development [1,2,3]

Basically, “Green and Sustainable” software should be as sustainable as possible. This means that economic, societal, ecological impacts, and impacts on human beings that result from the product over its whole life cycle, should be as small as possible.

Most obvious are the first-order effects (or: effects of ICT supply), like performance re-quirements, network bandwidth, hardware requirements, and product packaging that directly demand energy or natural resources.

life-cycle.png

The second-order effects (or: effects of ICT usage) evolve from using the services offered by ICTs on the life cycle of other products or services. Today, software plays a significant role in the life cycles of many other products or services: software can be used to optimize product design, production processes, the end-of-life treatment, or the usage of other products or services. Unfortunately, these second-order effects are not as obvious as the first-order effects.

Even harder to predict or analyze are third-order effects (or: systemic effects of ICT), be-cause of the manifold systemic interdependencies, which require experienced knowledge from examiners.

One example are rebound effects that may occur, if a specific optimization frees used resources, which can be used to produce more products, which then causes additional demand for these resources. This may in turn overcompensate the initially achieved savings.

References

 

  1. Berkhout, F., Hertin, J. (2001): Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies on Environmental Sustainability: speculations and evidence. Report to the OECD. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/4/6/1897156.pdf [2011-03-02]
  2. Göhring, W. (2004): The Memorandum “Sustainable Information Society”. In: Minier, P., Susini, A. (eds.): Sh@ring. proceedings of the 18th International Conference Informatics for Environmental Protection, EnviroInfo 2004, October 21-23, 2004, CERN, Geneva (Switzerland), Éditions du Tricorne, Genève, pages 278–286.
  3. Hilty, L. M. (2008): Information technology and sustainability. Essays on the relationship between ICT and sustainable development, Books on Demand, Norderstedt.
  4. Behrendt, S., Kahlenborn, W., Feil, M., Dereje, C., Raimund, B., Ruth, D., Michael, S. (2007): Rare Metals. Measures and concepts for the solution of the problem of conflict-aggravating raw material extraction - the example of coltan, Umweltbundesamt.