AFTAs 2014: Best Infrastructure Initiative—Northern Trust

northern-trust-best-infrastructure-initiative
Jeff Celland, Stéphane Matteau, Vijay Luthra, and Brian Bernsee

One of the more interesting trends to develop over the last few years is the financial services industry’s willingness to use cloud-based solutions to drive down costs while improving efficiencies. The next stage of that evolution has been the introduction of big-data technologies to improve storage, data mining and analytics.

Northern Trust, this year’s winner of the best infrastructure initiative award, has been at the forefront of investing in these solutions, with the most recent example being its project to employ an Apache Hadoop-based log analytics system at the firm. Rather than relying on several fragmented, patchwork tools to accomplish this goal, it leveraged Hadoop and other open-source tools to gather and mine system-generated data in order to improve its capacity, performance, and security analytics.

Consider this: Within Northern Trust, across Windows PCs and servers, Unix and Linux databases, virtual machines and various other databases, there are terabytes of system logs conducted. Northern Trust wanted to centralize these logs in order to run various analytics to create data reports in order to make more informed performance and capacity decisions.

Northern Trust’s technology infrastructure team looked at dashboards with performance statistics from over 20,000 PCs and found that about 1,300 employee PCs were “resource constrained,” lessening productivity. As a result, the asset manager deployed 64-bit high-performance computers to help alleviate those constraints.

It used Hadoop and other reporting tools to collect and improve performance data from various business applications, such as real-time health monitoring of cash payment processing via the Swift ISO 20022 messaging gateway. As a result, operations teams are able to proactively identify transactional issues before the client is notified, so they can rectify the problem more proactively rather than receiving a call from an angry client.

Through this Hadoop log analytics program, Northern Trust has created an inexpensive way to collect raw, unstructured performance information from disparate sources, and has been able to hire top-tier data analysts and scientists—jobs that have traditionally left Wall Street for Silicon Valley.

Through this Hadoop log analytics program, Northern Trust has created an inexpensive way to collect raw, unstructured performance information from disparate sources, and has been able to hire top-tier data analysts and scientists—jobs that have traditionally left Wall Street for Silicon Valley.

Northern Trust views this project as the “tip of the iceberg,” as it plans to continue to invest in big-data technologies to better understand data and respond more effectively to issues, while increasing performance and efficiency.

This category was the only one with six finalists, with Northern Trust edging projects from Bank of America, ConvergEx, EBS, Fannie Mae and Societe Generale.

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