The financial services industry is no stranger to virtualization, having already come to appreciate the advantages it offers for satisfying important IT requirements such as centralized data security, enhanced mobility, and improved disaster recovery capability. The advent of Microsoft’s new NVv4 instance for Microsoft Azure with fractional GPU capability now has the potential to make it feasible to expand the use cases, practicality, and opportunities to use virtual machines (VMs) to support finance operations.
The Virtualization Challenge
One of the barriers to broad adoption of virtualization across many more essential financial applications has been the fact that most widely used software solutions such as trading consoles and visual analytics workstations require GPU support to ensure responsive interactivity under real-time demands. Prior to NVv4, this was only possible by providing each user’s computer or workstation with access to a full, dedicated GPU in the data center. This was highly inefficient, as many applications really only require a small, but nonetheless critical, amount of GPU processing to deliver a great user experience. Thus, the approach was expensive on a per-user basis and did not sufficiently improve the maintenance burden on IT departments. The need to offer the highest level of security for these environments has further complicated the switch to virtualized topologies.
NVv4 Changes the Virtualization Equation
Azure NVv4 instances powered by AMD 2nd Gen EPYCTM Processors and AMD Radeon InstinctTM GPUs tackles these challenges. Financial services organizations can deploy cost-effective, fully cloud-based desktop environments that meet the performance, flexibility, security, and cost requirements of their critical applications. NVv4 also addresses the management requirements and security standards demanded by IT management and corporate governance. Specific benefits include:
AMD’s SR-IOV technologies enable IT managers to deliver the right amount of GPU service to individual desktops and workstations based on application needs while sharing a high-powered GPU among multiple users.
Four AMD powered NVv4 options make it possible to provide configurations that align with the particular computing workloads of different users.
VMs such as Azure control data because data never leaves the datacenter; only pixel information is sent to the device.
With AMD’ SR-IOV-based GPU virtualization architecture, each virtual desktop is physically isolated, even when a single GPU is shared by multiple users.
Based in the Cloud, Azure can reduce reliance and expenditure on physical IT infrastructure such as on-premises data centers.
NVv4 offers instances that can support 4K displays, 60hz screen refresh rates, and multi-monitor support for up to 4 monitors.
Let’s consider just a few of the use cases that are now possible to the financial services sector.
Azure is centralized in the Cloud, so it enables IT departments of large financial organizations to remotely deliver and update applications and roll-out security patches. This can also help IT retain greater situational awareness of their entire distributed environment, which may include hundreds or thousands of branch offices, affording improved control and compliance oversight. With greater visibility, IT administrators can better optimize usage of costly software licenses and better manage costs.
Azure supports end-users with an ultra-low-latency global data backbone that delivers a highly productive experience. The combination of AMD enterprise-grade CPU and GPU hardware with the NVv4 Windows® 10 virtual instance helps ensure optimal compression for remote protocols that can overcome local limitations in networking and bandwidth, relieving IT of the need to install and modify leased offices. As tablets and other portable devices become common in local banks, a virtualized approach makes it possible for such devices to access powerful tools, enabling staff to assist customers from convenient, comfortable locations rather than behind a bulky workstation at a fixed desk.
The Windows 10 environment and key business applications such as Bloomberg, Capital IQ, FactSet, and Thomson Reuters Eikon, all require GPU support to deliver the responsive, low-latency interactive experience users such as traders demand. Powered by the combination of AMD 2nd Gen EPYC processors and AMD Radeon Instinct GPUs, NVv4 instances address that challenge while providing IT managers with flexibility to choose the right-sized configuration for different types of users. Unlike on-premises data centers, where IT managers must purchase hardware and licenses, then install and service servers, NVv4 enables IT managers to simply and quickly provision resources from the Cloud when adding new users to the workforce.
Data Security and Regulatory Compliance
Secure remote access provides financial services companies the knowledge that data is locally replicated and can be backed up centrally in the data center avoiding unmanaged end-points.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
In today’s electronic trading environments, downtime can lead to missed opportunities and significant financial loss. If an office, municipality or large region is impacted by a natural or man-made disruption, a virtualized infrastructure can provide critical redundancy. It can help ensure that vital data sources, compute/simulation resources, real-time analytics tools, and trading desktops remain online and accessible, enabling staff to work remotely and securely. Azure guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for VMs typically guarantee in excess of 99.9 percent availability.
Channel Partner Access
Financial products are often sold via brokers or agents, particularly in the consumer insurance and mortgage sectors. Virtualization can allow financial institutions to provide sales channel partners with secure, limited, ring-fenced access to applications or data as needed. This is critical to maintaining compliance with FSA and GDPR legislation. Azure has a proven track record of supporting the compliance needs of enterprise, global financial services, and banking organizations.
The Financial services industry faces some of the most challenging IT configuration and management issues. The flexibility of NVv4 is well worth a look by those looking to effectively streamline some of that complexity and better control costs, without sacrificing performance.
George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.