Grid Miracles

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-11-02 Print this article Print

The 2004 miracle concerned a third-party application that generates what Kaberon refers to as composed print. Composed print comprises Postscript and PDF files that do things such as define contributions and quarterly statements. During open enrollment periods in the fall, Hewitt would generate five- to 10-page documents tailored to each of its millions of participants. That process was redefined so that the DB2 databases could still live on the mainframe, but the work itself was parallelized—parceled out as chunks for the blades to chew through and feed back into the mainframe for recomposition. Without grid, one print composition job alone could have taken two weeks to run, Kaberon said. With grid, it took 14 hours—a time savings that represents reduced costs of 90 percent or more.
If Kaberons experience is indicative, its easy to see why IBM is scoring so high with financial services customers for grid management. He pointed to ugly code-conversion snags that arose in the two projects, such as the disconnect that arose from the mainframe doing all of arithmetic in PAC decimal—a numeric representation that doesnt exist in an Intel machine.
"Fortunately, IBM rode in on a white horse and provided the translation," Kaberon said. "They did it all for us." IBM, with its long-term relationship with grid technology company DataSynapse, has many such grid glory stories to which it can point. And its certainly on target to rule the roost in more financial institutions. Back in January 2003, it launched an initiative to fine-tune its grid technology for a handful of verticals: aerospace, automotive, financial markets, life sciences and government. To read more about grid computings advances on Wall Street, click here. According to Pat Aughavin, vice president of business development at New York-based DataSynapse, IBM and DataSynapse are a good fit for financial services companies because they target things near and dear to the vertical industrys heart: security, scalability and reliability. Those essential ingredients are not necessarily so important in the world of academic grid computing, nor do they garner the attention of generic grid vendors, she said. "We grew up here in the financial services market and understand security, scalability and reliability aspects of processing their applications," Aughavin said. "Thats inherent in our products, which you dont find in many other generic grid solutions developed for the academic marketplace, where a lot of compute power was thrown at a problem, but if something broke, it was just restarted. There werent the time constraints as in the financial market." Does Oracle understand such industry-specific nuances? Can Oracle steal away the attention IBM garners in this important vertical? Next Page: Theres no comparing Oracle with IBM.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel