Credit to the New Data Center

It's no surprise that financial services giant JPMorgan Chase is a pioneer in the quest for automated, virtualized New Data Center technologies. With assets of US$1.2 trillion and operations in 50 countries, the company is engaged in multiple initiatives all working toward the common goals of maximizing IT resources, reducing costs and speeding performance. Examples include grid computing, policy-based management of virtualized resources and automated application mapping and change control. As these projects evolve, they will ideally converge and enable the New York-based financial services giant to conquer tomorrow's IT challenges.

Shawn Findlan, a vice president responsible for the global credit trading infrastructure, in early 2004 started to explore how to boost his department's infrastructure. Pressed with performance demands and constricted by costs, Findlan realized he needed to revise his infrastructure rather than build out new additions. At that time, the IT department had just completed a consolidation project that reduced costs by 25 percent to 30 percent. That was good, but not good enough. JPMorgan Chase predicted the business Findlan supported to grow by 300 percent in 2005 and needed its recently consolidated infrastructure to support that growth.

"Our challenge was to add 300 percent capacity and optimize the environment to enable less downtime and to failover more quickly for less money," Findlan says.

While JPMorgan Chase had virtualized its compute resources via a grid - dubbed the Compute BackBone (CBB) - Findlan was now looking to virtualize the application and database layers. Thus Findlan's project, the Credit Derivatives Infrastructure Refresh (CDIR), was born. Instead of running scheduled jobs across resources using virtualization tools from VMware or Sun, Findlan wanted an application to be able to tap server, database and other components in an entirely virtualized environment that could be created on demand. When a trading application needed more server or database resources, this flexible infrastructure would create an end-to-end application environment on the fly to support the application's latest needs.

"If the application can utilize the CBB for compute services, it will be sent to the CBB," Findlan says. "If there was a failure in the primary data center, we wanted to be able to migrate an application to an [on-demand] infrastructure that doesn't exist on a day-to-day basis."

Virtualizing application resource pools

Findlan realized he'd need a tool that could create virtual pools of resources and then automatically distribute those resources when business needs fluctuated. His search led him to relative newcomer Enigmatec, which provides management software that can automatically distribute resources based on preset policies.

Dubbed Execution Management System (EMS), the software detects system failures and load changes on servers, and can fix problems using preset policies, Enigmatec says. The software also can separate an application from dedicated server resources and apply other available resources to the application.

EMS uses distributed agents to monitor system performance, measure actual performance against preset thresholds and take action when performance degrades. When action is required, Enigmatec will automatically, say, move CPU resources into an application environment to meet the demand for more capacity.

Enigmatec software doesn't rely on a centralized management console to configure agents, take corrective action or store data. IT installs the agents on managed systems and use a Web interface to create policies, configure agents and monitor performance. The agents can interact via peer-to-peer networking. For example, a new agent installed on a server would instantly register itself with the closest neighbor agent and get updated with the policies configured in the neighboring agent.

When using Enigmatec, Findlan says he can disassociate the IT service, or the multiple services that make up an application, from dedicated hardware. This virtualization allows an application component to tap resources from various components in the infrastructure, he explains. Enigmatec allows the application to request services from any available hardware or software resources, the vendor says.

"Enigmatec brings a bit more intelligence to its automation and virtualization than some competitors," says George Hamilton, director of enterprise computing and networking at The Yankee Group. "Policy-based management and virtualization are part of the bigger goal for overall data center automation, and Enigmatec addresses the problem with a disaster recovery/failure approach."

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