Hard Times May Boost Linux in Financial Services

By Nicole Hemsoth

April 6, 2009

Today Linux is the go-to operating system for high performance computing, while it continues to extend its footprint in the broader IT community. In the financial services arena, in particular, Linux is being seen as a critical technology for increasing ROI.

On Monday, at the High Performance Linux on Wall Street conference in New York, Inna Kuznetsova, director of IBM’s Linux Strategy, led a panel that discussed how Linux can be used to reduce costs and improve performance in these economically challenging times. We recently got the opportunity to ask Kuznetsova about the increasing profile of Linux for IBM customers and how the technology is enabling them to realize cost savings.

HPCwire: How have your clients IT priorities changed during this economic downturn?

Inna Kuznetsova: The priorities have certainly changed. First, we see our clients much more focused on the whole aspect of the total cost of ownership reduction. The financial crisis is putting a new lens on TCO claims. Companies prioritize projects with a clear ROI and predictable time to savings. The focus switches from enhancing functionality to cost reduction. Second, the expense control calls for higher accountability. Stimulus packages in different countries include funding for IT infrastructure but it comes with an increased scrutiny. To spend taxpayers’ money in a prudent way, reducing up front costs becomes increasingly important. Third, as we know from the experience of the previous recessions, companies often have to merge to withstand tough conditions — and that brings the issue of consolidating IT infrastructure. Being able to merge IT systems fast and keeping costs under control becomes vital for success.

HPCwire: How does Linux help address those new priorities?

Kuznetsova: Linux has unique attributes that help to improve savings. You cannot only reduce the costs with often lower rates but also eliminate CALs to avoid uprgrade penalties. Paying for a subscription instead of a license provides for a higher degree of flexibility should the customer decide to reduce resources, as often happens during an economic downturn. Standardizing on Linux reduces the number of skilled resources needed to manage multiple environments — and at the same time, a customer can select the best hardware platform for a particular workload. Also, during mergers, Linux, because it runs on the broadest set of hardware platforms, often becomes the “common denominator,” providing for a streamlined integration.

Consolidation on larger servers is one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption, office space and systems management costs, and many of our customers consolidate these days on Power Systems or mainframes running Linux. IDC recently published a study based on applying quantitative measures to such consolidation and quoted an average ROI in less than seven months and the reduction of TCO by 50 percent. Many of our financial customers follow this route — for example, the Bank of New Zealand consolidated its front office, Internet banking and tellers system on an IBM System z mainframe running Linux. It has reported a decrease in energy consumption close to 40 percent, 33 percent reduction in heat output and a need for only one administrator per 200 virtual servers.

Last but not least, customers can achieve great savings by leveraging Linux desktop in a traditional or virtual implementation. IBM offers an open-standards-based alternative to Microsoft Office, called Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS). It is a package of office productivity tools, including email, messaging and social collaboration software, that can work in a heterogeneous environment, with some users working on Linux and some on Windows. Users save 500-700 dollars per workspace when switching to Linux with IBM OCCS, and they can keep users on different systems collaborating with each other, using the same team rooms and tools. There are further savings associated with the virtual Linux desktop, launched last December, which can be deployed from any x86 server and provides additional savings in energy consumption, reduced need for workstation upgrades, memory, and system administration.

HPCwire: Are there instances where a proprietary OS is preferable?

Kuznetsova: There is no “one size fits all” approach in the selection of an operating system — many factors come into play. The customers have to consider what workloads and what applications they are running, what skills they have in house, what are their requirements to the reliability, availability, security, level of service, costs and resources for system administration.

An application migration is a costly process and may not be justified by savings. Furthermore, many workloads and applications may be designed in such a way that they use possible benefits that come from the combination of an operating system and hardware designed by the same vendor. Such combinations will always be better optimized for a particular platform while Linux is better optimized across vendors and platforms just by the nature of its development process.

HPCwire: In the financial services industry specifically, what is driving Linux adoption?

Kuznetsova: The financial services industry leads Linux adoption today — with the majority of our customers running the front-end operations on it and many exploring the opportunities that Linux offers for the back office. Last year I hosted a panel at the Linux on Wall Street event where we had a very interesting discussion about the use of Real Time for latency reduction and fast trade execution.

Our customers increasingly leverage Linux to select the best hardware platform for each workload. Thus, Mizuho Securities uses IBM BladeCenter with Cell broadband Engine processor to run its Exotic Derivatives Trading system. Cell has superb computational capabilities that are well suited to accelerating financial modeling calculations.

A lot of our customers consolidate operations on IBM System z running Linux, leveraging the high level of reliability, availability and security, as well as the low cost of system administration provided by mainframes. For example, the Bank of Russia went from 74 datacenters to a consolidated system on four IBM System z mainframes running Linux, reducing the per-transaction cost by 95 percent, which resulted in $400 million savings.

Other customers increasingly use Linux on System x for fast server provisioning at minimal cost. Antony Golia from Morgan Stanley will join me on stage at the Linux on Wall Street event to talk about their experience.

HPCwire: For HPC applications in particular, performance and the broader concept of productivity are the critical issues. How does Linux meet these needs?

Kuznetsova: Linux offers exceptional performance and productivity for HPC. It is enough to mention that over 80 percent of TOP500 supercomputers today are powered by Linux, including the Los Alamos system called Roadrunner – an IBM BladeCenter QS22 cluster — that tops the list. At IBM we invest in supporting Linux as a tier one system on all our server platforms. It is much more than just ensuring that Linux can run on a server — it means performing additional development, tuning and testing work to provide for a high level of reliability, availability and security (RAS). Some vendors claim that Linux is not yet ready for prime-time. Linux on IBM platforms supports business-critical operations with a highest level of RAS requirements today.

HPCwire: If Linux had never been developed, what would the landscape look like for your clients today?

Kuznetsova: Last December we celebrated the 10th anniversary of IBM’s committment to Linux. During this time we became one of the largest users of Linux — from running it on over 25,000 employee desktops to consolidating 3,900 servers in our IT infrastructure using Linux on mainframes. We became one of the largest contributors to the Linux community, being the third largest provider of changes to the Linux kernel over the last three years, having several hundred developers employed in the Linux Technology Center and participating in over one hundred open source projects. And we became one of the largest providers of Linux solutions — Linux is supported as a tier one system on all IBM server plaforms and we have over 500 software products for Linux in the market. It is difficult to imagine a different course of history and I would like to believe that there would have been a different project leveraging the intellectual power of a broad community to develop a system optimized for all hardware platforms and offering customers an open standards alternative today.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Exascale Computing Project Names Doug Kothe as Director

September 20, 2017

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) has named Doug Kothe as its new director effective October 1. He replaces Paul Messina, who is stepping down after two years to return to Argonne National L Read more…

Takeaways from the Milwaukee HPC User Forum

September 19, 2017

Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel hosted approximately 100 attendees for the 66th HPC User Forum (September 5-7, 2017). In the original home city of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles the agenda addresse Read more…

By Merle Giles

NSF Awards $10M to Extend Chameleon Cloud Testbed Project

September 19, 2017

The National Science Foundation has awarded a second phase, $10 million grant to the Chameleon cloud computing testbed project led by University of Chicago with partners at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Ren Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Prepares Customers for Success with the HPC Software Portfolio

High performance computing (HPC) software is key to harnessing the full power of HPC environments. Development and management tools enable IT departments to streamline installation and maintenance of their systems as well as create, optimize, and run their HPC applications. Read more…

NERSC Simulations Shed Light on Fusion Reaction Turbulence

September 19, 2017

Understanding fusion reactions in detail – particularly plasma turbulence – is critical to the effort to bring fusion power to reality. Recent work including roughly 70 million hours of compute time at the National E Read more…

Exascale Computing Project Names Doug Kothe as Director

September 20, 2017

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) has named Doug Kothe as its new director effective October 1. He replaces Paul Messina, who is s Read more…

Takeaways from the Milwaukee HPC User Forum

September 19, 2017

Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel hosted approximately 100 attendees for the 66th HPC User Forum (September 5-7, 2017). In the original home city of Pabst Blu Read more…

By Merle Giles

Kathy Yelick Charts the Promise and Progress of Exascale Science

September 15, 2017

On Friday, Sept. 8, Kathy Yelick of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the keynote address on “Breakt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Pledges Another $300 Million for Post-Moore’s Readiness

September 14, 2017

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a giant funding effort to ensure the United States can sustain the pace of electronic innovation vital to both a flourishing economy and a secure military. Under the banner of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), some $500-$800 million will be invested in post-Moore’s Law technologies. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Breaks Ground for Complex Quantum Chemistry

September 14, 2017

IBM has reported the use of a novel algorithm to simulate BeH2 (beryllium-hydride) on a quantum computer. This is the largest molecule so far simulated on a quantum computer. The technique, which used six qubits of a seven-qubit system, is an important step forward and may suggest an approach to simulating ever larger molecules. Read more…

By John Russell

Cubes, Culture, and a New Challenge: Trish Damkroger Talks about Life at Intel—and Why HPC Matters More Than Ever

September 13, 2017

Trish Damkroger wasn’t looking to change jobs when she attended SC15 in Austin, Texas. Capping a 15-year career within Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, she was acting Associate Director for Computation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Her mission was to equip the lab’s scientists and research partners with resources that would advance their cutting-edge work... Read more…

By Jan Rowell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab Targets Algorithms, AI Physics

September 7, 2017

Investment continues to flow into artificial intelligence research, especially in key areas such as AI algorithms that promise to move the technology from speci Read more…

By George Leopold

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This