Grids Rise to Next Level on Wall Street

With their complex needs, financial firms are "forcing the evolution" of high-performance computing in their quest for speed and accuracy, speakers said at a New York conference.

NEW YORK—The High-Performance Technology on Wall Street conference here Monday aimed to push financial firms beyond early grid and utility computing initiatives to more complex, companywide deployments. Speakers and vendors used the conference, hosted by consulting firm Lighthouse Partners of Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., to outline the next stage of computing on the Street.

"Financial institutions are out there as early adopters of grid systems," said Peter Harris, president of Lighthouse Partners. "The big question is how to get grids across the enterprise." IT managers and systems architects attended the one-day conference to learn how that might be possible.

In his opening keynote at the conference, Andrew Ingram, vice president of the scalable systems group at Sun Microsystems Inc., pitched Solaris 10 and Suns "commodity and innovation" mix as a possible solution.

Concerns on Wall Street are the same as they are across the IT industry: cost of hardware and infrastructure, cost of managing that infrastructure, and speed of deployment, Ingram said. Using volume components and innovating in other areas allows more to be done with grid and utility computing.

Ingram addressed the expanding use of grids within the financial community but reminded the audience to consider the workloads when deploying resources. "One size no longer fits all," he said. "Compute-centric, data-centric and application-centric workloads require very different systems design.

"Wall Street represents an interesting intersection of using grids for static and real-time computing," Ingram told after his speech. "Grids are changing and being populated with data from new areas, which is typically very time-sensitive in financial research. Its that real-time aspect thats truly on the bleeding edge."

Other presenters also noted grid computings gains in the industry.

Dick Binns, a program manager in the enterprise platform group at Intel Corp., said in his speech that compute power alone drove the first iteration of the grid. The next challenge, he said, is how to get core business functions such as data analysis, research and transactions onto the grid. At that point, automation and manageability will play a bigger role within the systems architecture.

"Financial firms are forcing the evolution [of high-performance computing]," said Josh Galper, senior consultant at the Tabb Group, during a panel on architecting high-performance systems. The increase in the number of trades, coupled with regulatory requirements, puts strains on existing resources, so market firms adapt and push the envelope, he said.

That means many of the financial applications that can utilize these powerful computing resources come from sell-side finance firms rather than from traditional software vendors, according to Andrew Delaney, director of A-Team Consulting in New York.

/zimages/6/28571.gifSun is telling Wall Street that its upcoming Solaris 10 and its x86 servers pack a powerful punch. Click here to read more.

Delaney highlighted software and applications from Bank of America Securities, BNY Securities Group and ABM Amro Bank N.V., which allow their customers to buy, sell and research more efficiently for competitive advantage. All of the trading models rely on computing power to quickly process data into real-time decision-support tools for traders.

"Technology is the enabler for speed and accuracy," he said. In an industry that relies on both, thats putting financial firms at the forefront of a technology change.

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