Most Effective Use of IT to Manage IT

Winner: Credit Suisse

Project: Enterprise Grid

Business goal: To leverage existing IT resources to create a high-performance, business-enhancing computing platform

Project partner: DataSynapse

When Credit Suisse looked to drive more business from its Collateralised Debt Obligation (CDO) risk application, the IT team was forced to be creative.

Experienced with grid computing since the establishment of its Enterprise Grid Shared Service Group in 2003, the company knew that such a computing fabric could deliver the scalability and raw performance required by the growing demands of the CDO application.

But it also understood the time and cost associated with provisioning new hardware to support such a powerful grid. Data centre space was already scarce, so not only would new hardware be required, but also new premises in which to put that hardware.

So the grid team looked instead to the desktop to source the desired computer power. Partnering with DataSynapse, the grid team moved the CDO application over to a network built on 4,000 desktop units. ‘Scavenging’ out-of-hours processing power from its office PCs in London and New York, Credit Suisse built by far its most powerful computing resource with no extra hardware or real estate costs.

As planned, the use of desktop grid, and the improved computing power that ensued, enabled the bank to expand its CDO trading operations – now a $400-$500 million-a-year business. What is more, says Alexander Pastron, head of the grid programme, “we are effectively delivering the processing requirements at no extra charge”.

More applications have moved onto the desktop grid now that the case has been proven, including an equity research application that previously could only be run over 48 hours. Now, the reports generated by that application can be obtained in just one day.

“This is a business changing paradigm,” says Pastron. “IT gives us the foundation for switching our research focus from explaining stock prices to predicting them.”

The Effective IT Awards judges commended the desktop grid project not only for its innovation, but for its success in delivering direct benefits to the business with a minimum of new resource provisioning.

Judges remarked that the desktop grid would continue to deliver value for the bank for many years. “With the advent of dual-core processors on the desktop and soon quad-core processors, even more processing power will be available,” one commented.

Highly Commended


With the data load on its network doubling every year, the networking team at ICI was under pressure to contain costs, while improving application performance. To understand how applications consumed network resources ICI deployed a traffic analysis tool from NetQoS which gave it an understanding of the way applications interact with the network. It can now make informed provisioning decisions and so reduce its network costs.

City of Edinburgh Council

Edinburgh Council’s Service Redesign Project saw the organisation’s IT estate almost entirely refreshed in two years. Previously, the IT function was expensive and inflexible, and was jeopardising the council’s ability to deliver on a promise to find £20 million of cost savings by 2011. Now, with the aid of technology partner BT, servers and desktops have been replaced or upgraded and an ITIL-guided business service model adopted, with savings to the council of over £5 million a year.


Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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