HSBC Powers Up Grid Computing Push

A growing need for number-crunching oomph has prompted the banking giant to streamline some technology

Banking giant HSBC wants better co-ordination between the various separate grid computing projects it is running around the world.

Grid allows computing jobs to be shared across a number of different servers or PCs, using the combined power to get the job done.

Demand for number-crunching computing power from HSBC's investment banking business has meant that more than a dozen different grids have sprung up in the company's operations around the globe.

But now the bank is looking at how it can better manage these different systems.

HSBC enterprise systems global architect Craig Carter told the demand for computing power had come from the bank's traders.

He said: "The grid infrastructure is used by the investment banking part of the organisation. The guys in derivatives trading and risk analysis require large amounts of computing power.

"These guys are coming up with deeply complex models. If they can do a more accurate model in the same time frame they are much happier."

As a result, grid computing has developed independently in HSBC's operations in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris. It has 3,000 CPUs - 1,500 servers - in production across 16 grids.

Carter said 95 per cent of HSBC's grids are on Windows servers, mainly because staff are familiar with the operating system. "We've seen no reason to go away from Windows - where it's doing a good job don't change it," he said.

But Carter said the bank is keen to move away from the siloed grids it has now to larger, more flexible grids - ideally getting to the point of having a single flexible grid in each of four main locations in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

The bank is also looking at ways of adding to its grid capacity by using existing desktops and servers. "We are looking at bringing our disaster recovery desks in because we know that unless there is a disaster they will always be available," he said.

The bank is also looking at adding the servers used for branch banking into its grid infrastructure because after the business day finishes these servers sit idle until the next day.