Wachovia has freed some of its Java-based software from dedicated servers to let the transaction applications draw computing power from a pool of 10,000 processors spread across cities in the US and UK.

The financial services firm began the grid effort more than a year ago with the installation of FabricServer adaptive grid infrastructure software from New York-based grid technology vendor DataSynapse.

The FabricServer software virtualises transaction applications and enables them to scale across hardware resources as needed. DataSynapse announced the Wachovia implementation last week.

The Wachovia system taps into computing resources available on multiple systems, allowing the company to avoid dedicated hardware costs and make better use of underused processors, officials said.

The servers are located in New York, Philadelphia and London and at Wachovia's headquarters in N. Carolina, USA.

Multiple benefits

Tony Bishop, a Wachovia senior vice president and director of product management, said using dedicated servers rather than the grid for the Java applications would be "three times the cost in terms of capital and people to support it."

The eight Wachovia applications running on the grid system are used in internal transactions, such as order management, Bishop said. Each of the applications runs in a J2EE environment on application servers from BEA Systems and JBoss.

Because the grid system provides resources as needed for the applications, Bishop said, response time has improved on some transactions from 10msec to 2msec.

Bishop, who worked for Data-Synapse before he was hired by Wachovia last year, said the improved performance means decisions and services can be made and delivered more rapidly.

"As things get more and more automated and more and more real time, it will be IT that differentiates in this business," Bishop said.

Gartner analyst Donna Scott said that Wachovia is an early user of grid technology for such applications. Many organisations, she said, still run Web-based applications in silos. "Most organisations have these islands of computing, and they don't talk to each other," she said.

IBM also has a product, WebSphere-XD, that allows transactions across a shared resource pool, but for the most part, such technologies are still emerging, Scott said.