At financial-services and security companies, the heat is on--literally. When Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Microsystems' president and chief operating officer, met last week with CIOs at top Wall Street firms, they said one of their biggest technical challenges is the need to install expensive cooling systems to offset the heat generated by large clusters of workstations as might be found on a trading floor.
WestLB AG, a $9.3 billion-a-year multinational bank based in Germany, has solved the heat problem by using PC blades from ClearCube Technology Inc. By deploying workstations that utilize PC blades, the company concentrates heat-producing equipment in a smaller space, thereby simplifying the cooling problem. Each PC blade, about the size of a videocassette, accommodates an Intel processor, memory, and a hard drive, and is held in stackable racks. The blade includes ports for peripheral devices such as monitors and keyboards.
The bank just rolled out the ClearCube blades at its new trading floor in Tokyo, where air conditioning is at a premium. "ClearCube provides a high-end trader workstation that also meets our cooling and space-saving requirements," says Greg Duncan, head of technical architecture, global infrastructure services at WestLB.
WestLB also plans to install ClearCube at its branch offices throughout the world, giving traders and other personnel workstation functionality without the hassles associated with moves, adds, and changes for traditional desktop PCs.
The concept of distributed hardware functionality that's embedded in PC blades is analogous to the software distribution model that WestLB employs. If the company can duplicate in its hardware what it's already done in software, Duncan says, then fixing PC hardware problems could be as simple as changing a light bulb.