ING Company Protects Pension Funds with Bitbrains, Grid Dynamics, and Microsoft Solutions

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Accelerated financial simulations speed delivery of critical information to decision makers

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Our risk managers are hard to impress, but they’ve been really pleased with how well the cluster solution works and how easy it is to use.

ING Insurance Benelux deployed a cloud-based solution that uses a hosted platform from Bitbrains IT Services, Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, and the HPC Excel Acceleration Toolkit (HEAT) solution from Grid Dynamics to significantly speed up financial simulations on insurance risk, saving hours of analysts’ time and increasing the accuracy of important financial information.

ING Insurance Benelux’s key financial models now execute from 10 to 50 times faster by running Microsoft Excel 2010 on a Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 cluster with a high performance infrastructure from Bitbrains and the HEAT solution from Grid Dynamics. Bitbrains IT Services is a leading provider of hosted cloud computing solutions and Grid Dynamics is an authority on systems scalability and cloud computing. Both companies are Microsoft partners.

ING Insurance Benelux, which handles life and non-life insurance, investment, and pension businesses in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, wanted to ensure that the company kept adequate pension fund reserves. It used a liability calculator to determine its hedging measures. Because they were limited to the processing power of stand-alone PCs, the company’s risk managers wanted a faster way to process simulations and obtain the information.

ING Insurance Benelux, Bitbrains, and Grid Dynamics worked jointly to transform the calculator into a 24-core Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 environment and using the Grid Dynamics HEAT solution, which makes it possible to convert complex Excel spreadsheets to run in a distributed, Windows HPC Server 2008 environment.

“The comparative test results were identical, just a whole lot faster in the Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 environment,” explained Hein Brat, program manager, Business Unit Corporate Clients at ING Insurance Benelux. “Our risk managers are hard to impress, but they’ve been really pleased with how well the cluster solution works and how easy it is to use.”

Company decision makers were so impressed that they asked the risk managers to recalculate every simulation that they had run over the previous year—in just two weeks. Bitbrains scaled up the cluster, adding 72 more cores overnight. Not only did the risk managers meet their deadline, but they also conducted a higher number of simulations, thereby fine-tuning the accuracy of the year’s results.

“Companies such as Grid Dynamics and Bitbrains IT Services are an essential part of making technical computing power more broadly available and accessible,” said Bill Hamilton, director, Technical Computing, Microsoft Corp. “With HEAT, Excel, Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, and Bitbrains’ expertise in complex infrastructures, our joint customers will accelerate their time to insight.”

Bitbrains IT Services is providing a cloud infrastructure platform for the application, with a special focus on compliance and security to meet the specific requirements of ING. The company has a creative approach to problem solving in HPC, helping companies with non-standard, complex, and challenging new endeavors. Teaming with leading vendors such as Microsoft and Grid Dynamics, Bitbrains is able to deliver solutions that exceed expectations.

Developed by Grid Dynamics, HEAT helps companies break through performance barriers that are typical with complex, compute-intensive financial models using Excel. HEAT defines the parallelization logic with very little programming effort and time and consequently offloads compute-intensive, time-consuming calculations to a cluster of servers, where the models can be processed much faster. This significantly reduces execution times.

“Combining our experience in managing IT environments with Grid Dynamics’ expertise in application scalability makes a powerful partnership, capable of solving many highly complex problems common to financial services companies,” added Gjalt van Rutten, CEO of Bitbrains IT Services.

“Because compliance and security is essential for financial institutions, Bitbrains’ expertise in application infrastructure for financial services perfectly complements our competence in high performance computing to deliver radical value to ING Insurance Benelux,” noted Victoria Livschitz, CEO, Grid Dynamics.

About Bitbrains IT Services
Bitbrains IT Services designs, builds and supports leading edge cloud computing solutions for companies that require extreme levels of continuity, reliability and scalability for their complex and mission critical applications. Bitbrains’ High performance computing concepts become reality with Extreme Engineering and Adaptive Hosting services. http://www.bitbrains.com.

About Grid Dynamics
Grid Dynamics helps companies achieve better performance, higher availability, faster time-to-market and lower operational costs by scaling mission-critical systems. Using the latest advancements in grid and cloud computing technologies, the company helps customers turn monolithic applications into scalable services; and static, underutilized server clusters into virtualized compute clouds. http://www.griddynamics.com

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Cynthia Hoye
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