I’ve written before about Greenbutton, that time using them as an example of a cloud computing delivering compelling benefits to customers – their focus at that time was evangelizing their plug in for video rendering that allowed users of desktop rendering software to have workloads processed in the cloud. As I said at the time;
It was a pretty simple demonstration, Fellowes did a live demo and rendered 40 seconds or so of video, using Greenbutton to move the entire rendering workload to a collection of virtual machines sitting in an Azure data center. Despite the data travelling tens of thousands of miles on its roundtrip journey for processing, a rendering job that would have taken hours on a high performance on-premise machine, took a matter of minutes and was run through a commodity laptop connected with marginal WiFi in the backroom of a pub
Since I last wrote about them, GreenButton have moved into other areas and recently announced a partnership with Numerix, a vendor of financial valuation analytics services. In particular Numerix are using GreenButton within their CrossAsset XL product, a Microsoft Excel-based application that is used for running pricing analysis on financial products. Using the integration, Numerix customers can offload their compute-intensive calculations to a variety of cloud infrastructure providers.
I spent some time with Numerix, a 16 year veteran of the financial analytics space, in New York recently to learn about their perspective on why cloud is important for the financial services industry. I spoke with COO and President Steve O’Hanlon about the drivers to move processing to the cloud, and some of the benefits they’ve seen from the move. We talked about the storms in the financial markets that Numerix has weathered over its life and the fact that current economic conditions continue to extern a dual pressure on companies in their space: firstly to produce faster and more frequent analyses and secondly to reduce cost and avoid the necessity for capital expenditure to achieve this higher level of performance.
I talked to O’Hanlon about the market perceptions of a company in their field moving to the cloud – the financial services industry is both highly regulated and under significant compliance burden – that makes cloud computing relatively challenging. O’Hanlon’s opinion was that over the next three years the larger institutions will join the fray and adopt cloud computing as the benefits prove too great to continue along their status quo. As he said;
…the financial analysis field is one of eking the very maximum performance out of technology. Good code and effective algorithms can only do so much before they come up against hardware problems. Fixing those problems requires significant capital outlay and this is where cloud computing provides a credible and attractive option
This contention is borne out given the fact that Numerix, a company of only 230 or so employees, counts over 100 PhD’s amongst its staff – in fields such as mathematics and financial engineering. The need to move beyond on-premise processing isn’t a comment on a lack of ability within the organization, it’s a reflection on the realities in the marketplace.
Underlying all of this are some realities around organizational size – the largest organizations are much more likely to have existing infrastructure that an be leveraged to up the performance of analytics applications than smaller firms. Given that fact, and notwithstanding O’Hanlon’s predictions, cloud adoption in this space will likely mirror that in less stringent industries – small companies will take up public cloud and over time larger organizations will take tentative steps into the cloud likely using private cloud strategies.
The very fact that this partnership has been formed is a strong message that the finserve industry is moving in the right direction – cloud brings significant benefits and at last it seems that finserve is beginning to see that those benefits massively outweigh any perceived or actual risks of the move.