An agency-only institutional brokerage, Dallas-based Capital Institutional Services (CAPIS) was looking for a technology infrastructure that would be reliable and secure, and offer the processing capability to provide the requisite speed of execution that is critical for today's market participants. To this end, it has turned to a solution that brings together Appro's Blade PC solution with the KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) extension capabilities of Avocent Digital Desktops.
As a result, CAPIS traders now have machines with more memory and processing horsepower than they used previously, according to Wesley Wempner, vice president for technology/support with CAPIS. And because the blade servers are isolated from the trading floor in a safer and more stable environment, the traders benefit from fewer computer failures and greater uptime. Additionally, CAPIS enjoys more flexibility in its ability to move personnel from system to system.
Tasks that previously took as long as eight hours - because of failures or a lack of computing power - now take about an hour, Wempner notes. "The speed at which the technical staff can work with these units is vastly improved, and there is a lot more stability," he says.
Wempner relates that CAPIS had been seeking to move its workstations, which were located under traders' desks, and, using KVM technology, centralize the processors in the firm's air-conditioned server room, where CAPIS could provide better security and control the environment in which the devices were stored more closely, thereby making the systems more stable. CAPIS initially implemented rack-mount units - storage cabinets used to house hardware devices - but the number of cables required in such a setup is cumbersome, says Wempner.
The firm then turned to blade servers, which typically house multiple central processing units (CPUs), including one or more microprocessors, memory and hard disk storage, in a single chassis. The blades are smaller than the devices in a rack-mount unit so they take up less space, and they require fewer cables, notes Wempner. "They cost a little more up front, but the value is better because you get a more stable system," he asserts.
Appro's partner, Avocent, provides the peripheral desktop technology - monitors, a keyboard, a mouse - that allows CAPIS to move typically bulky PC hardware out from under its traders' feet.
Feeding Off Grid
The size, flexibility and security offered by blade technology likely will increase the adoption of blade servers across the industry, a trend that should be accelerated by the potential to use blades in grid computing environments. Typically, a grid takes computationally intensive calculations and divides them up into smaller subtasks that then are parsed out to many PCs for execution.
Grid solutions, and blade technology, should find a home on Wall Street, suggests Octavio Marenzi, CEO of research firm Celent Communications. "There is a need for processing power of the kind a grid can provide for very sophisticated, exotic instruments, in terms of the pricing and risk management of those positions," he says.