Grid Grows Up - Landmark Study Establishes Investment Banking Best Practice

18 May 2011

A landmark study of grid computing maturity within global investment banking has been launched by Excelian, one of the City’s leading grid consultancy specialists. Fifteen tier 1 and tier 2 institutions took part in the project, which also establishes a set of best practice benchmarks to be used as a strategic planning tool for the sector.

The Excelian study shows that at its best, grid is being used as an enterprise level large-scale distributed compute solution. At its least effective, grid is seen purely as a point solution for parallel compute. The report also argues that grid today is less a specialist technology and more a commodity in its own right. After years of rapid growth, the report’s authors predict 2011 presents a ‘plateau of productivity’ for grid and they call for more banks to use this moment to gauge their own progress towards achieving a stable, cost effective, enterprise grid solution.

The report finds that grid technology suits the sector for a variety of reasons. It offers ease of management and scalability. It can run on a variety of operating system platforms while also accommodating existing code and services. It has a straightforward programming model, particularly when compared to more specialist high performance computing technologies. It also has strong service management capabilities. The study also shows how grid has developed: early adopters of grid in the late 90s had to create their own solutions, drawing on success in the scientific and technical world or making use of enterprise computer solutions such as SOA and middleware. Later adopters have exploited a variety of third party tools such as Tibco GridServer, Platform Symphony and increasingly Microsoft HPC. With the introduction of commodity middleware, hardware and operating systems, the management of the grid has also moved towards infrastructure, centralised teams and service lead models. This natural evolution mirrors that of middleware and database systems, not least because it allows cost cutting without damage to service quality.

Lead author Dr Adam Vile says “We believe this study is a major step forwards in helping the world’s investment banks define their grid strategy for the next decade. Almost all investment banks of whatever tier have a grid solution of some sort, ranging from 20 cores servicing a third party trading application to more than 20,000 cores providing enterprise grid services. But while most banks operate a grid, we have found that levels of understanding and standards of ‘best practice’ vary dramatically. Now, our new benchmarking criteria will allow banks to baseline themselves against robust measures and in complete confidence against their peers. We are really pleased with the initial response and look forward to seeing how the project develops, as further institutions take part.”

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