Trading Technology

01:07 PM
Larry Tabb
Larry Tabb
Connect Directly

Plugging Into Utility Computing

Plugging a monitor and keyboard into the wall and having not only a rich user interface but unlimited power at your fingertips is a wonderful concept.

Plugging a monitor and keyboard into the wall and having not only a rich user interface but unlimited power at your fingertips is a wonderful concept. The idea of abstracting the complexity of the computing/data center infrastructure from the computational process goes back to the time when mainframes ruled the land; users simply flicked on the tube and applications were just there. But that was a long time ago and seems like a galaxy far, far away.

Today, users have been empowered with greater computational power and increased flexibility. Unfortunately, this has been accompanied by increasing technology and application complexity.

The challenges of managing today's computational infrastructure are not getting easier. Financial markets firms now are adopting Linux-based clustering technology rapidly and extending their mainframe, Solaris and Windows-based environments. In addition to their heterogeneous technology infrastructure, they are running a mixed operating environment as service-based architected environments are now layered upon traditional platforms.

To contain this infrastructure, firms are consolidating technology within the data center. But how do data center personnel manage the infrastructure? Current data center management technologies do a good job at discovering and monitoring technology assets, but they don't fix problems automatically, or reprovision and re-route stalled technology onto an available platform. This is where utility computing comes in.

While the utility computing hype is about the acquisition of computer cycles like electrical power and paying for only what is used, most financial markets firms are looking at this differently. First, the technology needed to manage CPU cycles like electricity doesn't exist. Second, large firms, while wanting to off-load a few processing jobs here and there, rarely want to outsource their whole technology infrastructure. What firms do want, and what utility computing can provide, is the ability to manage data centers holistically and more automatically.

Financial markets firms want to create a virtual computing utility within the firm - not outside it. This enables firms to secure and discover technology assets, monitor their health, determine and implement service-level policies that match application workload with available resources, manage and virtualize the data and computing infrastructures, prepare applications for deployment, allocate the application to the proper resources, provision the route and schedule the workloads, meter the usage, and provide an automated method to manage the health and well-being of the computing infrastructure.

This is the ultimate flexible data center. The only problem is that the infrastructure isn't here yet. Many of the parts exist, but they are offered by start-ups (i.e., they're not integrated) and in many cases are not available for data center-type scale. But there is hope.

Many of these start-ups are on the way to delivering off-the-shelf facilities for bulge-bracket firms. Concurrently, larger technology firms are investing in relationships, helping the smaller innovators to develop, create, market, scale and implement their products. The larger vendors are also fostering the "on demand" culture, spreading the idea that financial institutions don't need a hosted data center or that heavy-duty computational power can be acquired for as little as $1 per CPU per hour.

While these large technology providers are unable to support the true utility concept currently, they are headed in that direction. And while financial markets firms currently are not interested in obtaining all their computing cycles from a plug in the wall, they are interested in making their data centers more robust, efficient and automated as they drive utility computing toward reality.

Larry Tabb is founder and CEO of Westborough, Mass.-based The Tabb Group, a financial-markets strategic-advisory firm.

Larry Tabb is the founder and CEO of TABB Group, the financial markets' research and strategic advisory firm focused exclusively on capital markets. Founded in 2003 and based on the interview-based research methodology of "first-person knowledge" he developed, TABB Group ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
More Commentary
Business Continuity 2.0: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
What would happen with a long-term outage to financial systems or the nation’s critical infrastructure? Businesses aren’t even close to being prepared.
Using RPA in Banking to Streamline Development
As the returns on outsourcing decline, firms are looking for other ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the IT organization. Robotic Process Automation may help.
SEC Vote Is Drama for the Masses, With No Happily Ever After
All of them hoped it would never come to this.
Driving Information Security, From Silicon Valley to Detroit
As software interacts with more and more of our daily lives, technology providers may be liable for more damages than they have in the recent past.
Big Data's Challenge: Matching Business Needs With Technology
All those bits and bytes only add up to something when they’re organized, arranged, and made coherent.
Register for Wall Street & Technology Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Wall Street & Technology - July 2014
In addition to regular audits, the SEC will start to scrutinize the cyber-security preparedness of market participants.
Exclusive: Inside the GETCO Execution Services Trading Floor
Exclusive: Inside the GETCO Execution Services Trading Floor
Advanced Trading takes you on an exclusive tour of the New York trading floor of GETCO Execution Services, the solutions arm of GETCO.