With such high demand for high-performance computing in financial services, sometimes prioritization is just as important as clock speeds. "High-performance computing is a fundamental building block to our entire strategic platform," says Tony Bishop, SVP at Wachovia Corp. The firm has built a service-oriented utility that delivers high-performance computing as one way of meeting compute requests where appropriate.
The services-oriented architecture (SOA) is served by IBM WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances (for transformation, routing and integration) and Tibco software, according to Bishop. High performance is delivered through a grid managed by Data Synapse software and based in New York, Charlotte and Philadelphia, as well as through high-end server appliances such as Azul's Compute Appliances and Tigi data throughput accelerators, he adds.
A usage reporting tool from Evident details who has used how much compute resources for how long, for what purposes, and the effect on network bandwidth, storage and system-level resources, Bishop continues. Wachovia has developed methodologies for splitting work into daytime and nighttime shifts, allocating capacity for mission-critical work, and measuring value to the business before allocating resources. For instance, if a Java executable is determined to be revenue-generating, it might be moved to an Azul server appliance, which provides very fast -- and expensive -- processing, Bishop notes.
This utility notion is a fresh perspective on HPC. "Notice I don't talk about clusters, operating systems or Microsoft Excel," Bishop says. "We're able to take a request for service from any application, user or machine that says do this, fetch this, report on this, query this, price this or trade this. Tasks and services are discriminated and brokered against the appropriate supply based on factors of performance, cost and efficiency."
What if it's a task that doesn't generate revenue and is costly, yet is important, such as analyzing risk? "Welcome to our world of defining priorities," Bishop says. "This is why we've built a service management function that follows an ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library]-like discipline that says you create a service contract, you prioritize it based on the strategic drivers of the business and then you roll it from there." Managing risk is critical to Wachovia's business, and therefore risk analysis processes receive the highest level of compute performance, Bishop notes.
To keep power costs down, in addition to the use of small, powerful appliances, Wachovia turns to Verari (San Diego) BladeRacks. "Verari has a patent on vertical cooling in a rack, and they also can take a direct power connection, which means you don't have to put power distribution module splitting in place that causes waste." The racks also leverage cooling that comes through the floor. --P.C.