UBS virtualises application infrastructure

Financial services firm, UBS has added flexibility and reduced the cost of running complex, computing intensive applications using application virtualisation.

The company dynamically allocates processing resource across its global IT infrastructure to support its bespoke risk management applications.

Andrew Morgan, UBS application architect and development manager said the company's focus on complex financial services products that place high demand on the IT infrastructure led it to use application virtualisation products from DataSynapse.

"It's sometimes called grid," he said. "But at it's simplest it's about running virtual application components over a heterogeneous pool of devices at low management cost."

UBS first started using application virtualisation techniques in 2002, but now has a sophisticated pool of global computing resource with which to run and dynamically provision its most CPU-intensive risk simulations and calculations.

Morgan said that, in this time, the internal development of frameworks and management tools has been key to getting business buy-in that sees different functional areas and geographical regions dynamically sharing their IT resources around the clock.

"We use a lot of sophisticated features in DataSynapse to balance different business needs," he said. "For example, the application stream I manage has three distinct application environments, with one for each region.

"Working with the business has helped us understand the different usage patterns of each region and application stream at different times of day, which also certainly gave us the chance to get sensible processes in place for managing day-to-day workloads, as well as planning for upgrades."

He said that each region's own x86-based hardware is used to supply a 'Platinum' service back to that region for it to run its business applications. This mitigates the chance of the virtualised infrastructure impacting local productivity by queuing application requests and matching them to the resource with the most spare capacity.

He also said the web-based management interface gives various application teams a common interface and framework to work within so no one applications resource needs are prioritised over another without a policy first being put in place to supervise this.

Morgan added: "Overall, it's really important to understand the constraints and terms of the business where virtualising applications to get the level of dynamic provisioning right."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.