Sun Strikes Grid Computing Pact with Bank

The systems vendor signs another major computing pact with a Parisian bank.

By Clint Boulton | Posted Sep 29, 2004
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One week after touting its grid computing and other technologies on Wall Street for financial services customers, Sun Microsystems agreed to provide a Paris-based bank with more than 100 servers to power its transactions.

Under the deal, Sun will provide Equity and Derivatives BNP Paribas 116 Sun Fire V20z servers powered by AMD's Opteron chips to improve the performance of its risk management software, which runs on a compute grid.

There is a no official word of the value of the contract, but V20z servers with one to two processors tend to run between $3,000 and $5,000 each, depending on configurations.

Peter ffoulkes, group marketing manager of Sun's High Performance and Technical Computing division, said the bank has chosen to break free from an x86 cluster it had used from a competing vendor in favor of the V20z machines, running Red Hat Linux.

Equity and Derivatives chose Sun's infrastructure to help it address Basle II, an international risk management regulation put in place to avoid some of the accounting improprieties if the late '90s, according to ffoulkes.

"Those audit trails hopefully will be beneficial over time but they pose quite a headache for the banks who have to do all of their business within the same time frame but with the weight of a lot of regulatory compliance," ffoulkes said. "To do that, they need to enhance their computer systems."

That means grid computing. Traditionally, grid computing is used to either harness a pool resources and fire a lot of jobs at them with great efficiency or complete tasks in a parallel mode and run things like crash tests. It can also be expensive for enterprises to offer. Just last week, for example, HP announced that it would change its Adaptive Enterprise (AE) product strategy, Gartner noted in a brief sent to customers. Instead of pursuing the "high-cost, low-volume UDC [Utility Data Center], HP "will move toward a more modular strategy, with more individual products and services."

Still, IDC estimates the grid computing market will hit $12 billion by 2007.

"We believe that grids hold significant potential as the next step in the evolution of the IT environment, especially as the technology breaks out from the HPC space and becomes more broadly applied in commercial data centers," said John Humphreys, research manager of Workstations and High Performance Computing Systems at IDC, in a statement.

ffoulkes said the financial services area is clearly a marketplace that has the numerically-intensive computing need for risk analysis and risk management. The executive said major financial institutions are deploying high-performance infrastructure based on cost-effective architectures such as x86 or Opteron.

"They are trying to extend grid computing into the bigger picture of grid, where you're looking at the general pool of resources, a services-oriented architecture approach layered on top of a virtualized infrastructure," ffoulkes told internetnews.com. "They're trying to move toward a utility computing model with internal service-level agreements and charge-backs."

He also noted that while Equity and Derivatives is using their own Linux, Sun has a lot of people looking toward Solaris 10, available some time later this year, with Dynamic Trace and Grid Containers.

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