Web Services and Grid technology take centre stage at Finexpo

Web Services and Grid technology take centre stage at Finexpo

Speakers at this year's Finexpo City Technology Strategies conference in London are reporting positive returns from early small-scale implementations of Web Services and Grid computing, raising expectations for wider uptake in new application areas across the enterprise.

Speakers from JPMorgan and UBS drew large numbers of delegates as they recounted their own experiences with Web Services and Grid technologies.

Ben Whittle, global head of architecture at UBS says his bank currently has 500+ blade servers deployed in Grid like solutions across multiple business lines.

"We want a service-oriented architecture where people can connect to us," he says. "From an architectural point of view I've got to look at this and understand how we can use it."

At UBS, he says, the aim is to put a Web Services infrastrucure on top of Grid solutions in an effort to create an "adaptive environment" where resources can be quickly and easily added and application failures automatically re-routed.

Of the more than 250 applications deployed by UBS in its equities operation, only a few currently qualify for the traditional compute-intensive treatment offered by early Grid solutions.

"The biggest challenge is to make the Grid useful on an enterprise scale," says Whittle.

Pointing to the more traditional I/O intensive applications like STP, he says: "We should be able to submit a workflow job and enable the Grid engine to act as a high speed scheduler. There's a big gap in the settlement space for that."

The point was picked up by Larry Tabb of the Tabb Group, who says the emergence of new Web Service standards is pushing the Grid beyond its traditional remit of heavy-duty analytics to deal with new demands for application and technology infrastructure management in heterogeneous computer environments. He estimates that during the next five years, the market for Grid-enabled technologies in financial markets will move from a $70 million to a $680 million software and services market.

Like UBS, JPMorgan has specified the development of a service-based architecture as a key infrastructure goal over the next three to four years. Ian Saunders, vice president, JPMorgan e-business solutions group, explained how the bank has used Web Service technology from Cape Clear to transform the arduous process of integrating and managing customer trade data. The bank has moved from a position where it took to three to five weeks to build client interfaces that mapped incoming data into an appropriate format for processing over its proprietary desktop system, to a three to four day process for interfacing and submitting information via a Data Exchange Web client.

The system is already proving its worth, he says, with fewer trades sent off for repair and staff redeployed to more creative and productive programmes. The aim now is to extend the architecture to other application areas.

Says Saunders: "Web Services and the introduction of a service-based architecture is going to be key to JPMorgan going forward."

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