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Interview: Trends in HPC & Cloud in Financial Services

ISC-EventWhile not every industry is making the move to the Cloud at quite the same rate, the high performance side of the Financial Services industry seems to be ahead of the curve. This year, the ISC 2015 conference will feature a session on HPC & Cloud Computing in Financial Services. To learn more about the latest trends in this area, we caught up with Prof. Juho Kanniainen from Tampere University of Technology and Tuomas Eerola from Techila Technologies.

insideHPC: What are the emerging HPC trends in the financial sector?

juhoKanniainen & Eerola: We are seeing the following trends:

  • Big Data meets HPC. In particular, HPC systems that can support big data analysis will gain popularity.
  • Big Data is already quite straightforward with public clouds (Google BigQuery, Amazon), but financial institutions need tailored, in-house solutions, too.
  • Smart integration of cloud-based processing to persistent on-premises infrastructure
  • Smart meaning auto-scaling based on business, and self-optimization according to data, algorithms.

insideHPC: What makes the cloud attractive to the financial sector from a high-performance computing point-of-view?

Kanniainen & Eerola: The ability to guarantee SLA for business is one of the key benefits. The other, which the leading global clouds can offer to multi-site FSI enterprises, is all sites being able to access always up-to-date data. Obviously, maintaining compliance under all circumstances is always important, data and algorithms. Because of this, being able to really unleash the full potential of cloud-based processing in Finance requires a clever middleware and management solution, which offers required execution policies, priority frameworks, and other security features. But when these are in place, cloud can offer flexibility which conventional strictly on-premises solutions can’t match.

insideHPC: Are financial institutions able to move to public clouds, or is their activity relegated to private clouds?

Kanniainen & Eerola: There are security requirements, compliance requirements, and ideological roadblocks. The benefits to private clouds in HPC are questionable, because they can’t offer the full flexibility, which I described above. Leading public clouds (AWS, Microsoft) are very well equipped to respond to security requirements. Compliance is a more complex question, because there are many concerns which cloud vendors need to remove. Not all them are as clear as security requirements, which are often related to technical criteria. I would say some of them can be even seen as ideological roadblocks. But if there is a will, there is a way to move to the public clouds. In reality, the cloud datacenters are very well protected facilities and the systems are technologically extremely advanced.

insideHPC: Your session will include the topics of FPGAs and GPUs in the financial sector. What do you think are the main factors driving the industry towards these devices?

Kanniainen & Eerola: It is primarily High-Frequency Trading, where you need sophisticated and tailored hardware and software to meet the requirements.

insideHPC: Can you tell us more about what attendees will learn about in this ISC 2015 session?

Kanniainen & Eerola: This will be an informative session as described in the abstract:

Concepts and models introduced in banking and especially investment banking have to proof to either save money or earn money. Both, HPC and cloud computing have delivered this proof ranging from computations of financial problems described with complex mathematical models such as risk analysis or option pricing require high performance computing resources. Without HPC, these problems could not be solved at all or solved in time. With cloud computing, banks are able to optimize their infrastructure and also enable the provisioning of resources on demand. This session intends to provide insights of state-of-the-art HPC and cloud computing concepts financial services institutions are currently utilizing.

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