High Performance Computing Everywhere for Financial Services (and Beyond)

Information technology has changed every industry in the past 20 years, to the point that IT systems are no longer the domain of just the technologists. Business decision makers are actively involved in the planning, purchasing, and deployment of technologies today. And one of the critical issues for business executives is getting more timely information and greater value from enterprise systems.

In response to these concerns, one of the interesting concepts gaining acceptance is that high performance computing (HPC) can help many parts of a business. Where HPC was formerly deployed for very time-sensitive and data-intensive functions, today’s reality is that big data is everywhere and the need for access to real-time information is becoming universal. And while HPC was used sparingly for those use cases that required near real-time performance due to cost considerations, today’s HPC platforms can provide lower TCO along with significant performance gains.

One industry where high performance computing is positioned to go mainstream is financial services, according to the TABB Group, a respected analyst group. The basis for this prediction is both necessity and opportunity. The necessity has been focused on the need for advanced risk management analytics—both as a matter of self-preservation and meeting regulatory requirements. But TABB Group sees the ‘new necessity’ becoming the ability to pursue offensive use cases for HPC that allow business leaders to position their business for growth and profitability in the digital economy.

The “opportunity” as TABB Group sees it is the growing maturity and proliferation of technologies that appear poised to replace legacy and proprietary systems; effectively technical breakthroughs that can deliver ‘more for less.’ TABB Group identifies three “pillars” of HPC infrastructure, the convergence of which is enabling adoption and giving rise to uses cases that could not have been conceived before.

The first pillar is enterprise-scale, in-memory platforms. In-memory solutions have demonstrated the ability to read up to 10,000x faster than hard disk. Enterprise-scale is the next step in a migration that TABB Group dubs “big memory meets big data.” More than just speed, the enterprise-scale SAP HANA platform provides much more right out of the box, including integrated tools for rapid application development and deployment, as well as advanced capabilities to support predictive, spatial, and text analytics.

The Linux operating system is the second pillar of HPC infrastructure for the digital age. In 2013, 36 percent, of new worldwide server shipments (ranked by operating system) were Linux-based, and shipments for 2013-2018 are estimated to be growing at nearly twice the rate of the competitors. Within this, Red Hat is the industry leader.

While cost is a very appealing aspect of Linux—with users having reported reductions in non-human capital TCO ranging from 30-50 percent—one of the most potent drivers of this adoption is speed. According to the Top500 Project list for June 2014, Linux not only dominated, it had nearly eliminated all of its competition in June 2014—485 out of 500 of the fastest computers in the world are running on Linux. High performance, indeed!

The third pillar is commonly known as cloud services. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) adoption is being fueled by increasing maturity and security. The agility and cost frameworks of cloud services are increasingly appealing for the dual goals of enhanced performance and lower TCO. With the convergence of these three technical pillars, higher-performance workloads need not be reserved only for in-house and customized infrastructures.

While the TABB Group paper is specific to financial services, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how the trend of High Performance Computing Everywhere can apply beyond financial services. Many industries can build compelling new uses for the real-time insight and consolidated views that HPC can deliver.

The long-standing collaboration between Red Hat and SAP offers great value to customers looking to extend HPC in their enterprise. Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP HANA provides an agile, real-time enterprise platform that can transform your business. For more information, visit: www.redhat.com/sap.

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