Next-gen HPC delivers sustainability, efficiency and lower TCO for BNP Paribas

Next-gen HPC delivers sustainability, efficiency and lower TCO for BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas, atNorth and Dell Technologies have collaborated in order to deploy HPC with 50% less energy usage, 85% less CO2 output and lower TCO. To deliver more value to its customers and fuel emerging HPC needs, BNP Paribas CIB required exponential infrastructure growth. Ricardo Jantarada, Global Head of Telecom & Datacenter at BNP Paribas CIB, tells us how the organisation achieved this as well as discussing atNorth’s innovative data centre design and the benefits of operating in the Nordic region.

Video interview with Ricardo Jantarada, Global Head of Telecom & Datacenter at BNP Paribas CIB

To better serve its customers and remain a leader in the financial services sector, BNP Paribas faced exponential infrastructure growth. The organisation, in collaboration with atNorth and Dell Technologies, tailor-designed a HPC infrastructure using Dell Technologies solutions. The cluster is housed in one of atNorth’s colocation data centres in Iceland and deployed as-a-Service for BNP Paribas. Through novel design approaches, the atNorth data centres are very economical, energy-efficient and powered by renewable energy sources.

BNP Paribas has a bold purpose: ‘We are at the service of our clients and the world we live in’. A recent technology pivot shows that BNP Paribas is a vigilant keeper of that mission and its two, often-divergent directions. In keeping with its mission, BNP Paribas sought environmentally responsible options to ‘future-proof’ its technology. Adoption of a novel HPC approach has reduced energy consumption by 50%, decreased CO2 emissions by 85% and moved 100% of energy supply to renewable generation.

Headquartered in France, BNP Paribas serves customers in over 65 countries and is one of the top banks in the European Union. BNP Paribas prioritises its mission as a bank and as a company committed to meeting environmental and social challenges. Its recent data centre transition is evidence of this.

Green means cost-efficient: 50% less energy

The financial services industry is transforming rapidly as HPC ushers in novel capabilities. HPC is a tool that can analyse massive amounts of data to extract insights, expand services for customers and mitigate security threats. At the same time, HPC requires a large physical footprint and big supply of energy to manage the speed and volume of hefty computations.

atNorth, however, has recast some of HPC’s traditional parameters. The company has a unique approach to carbon-neutral data centres that reduce energy waste, minimise environmental impact and operate cost-effectively. The result is high power density compute delivered economically with the least environmental effect.

atNorth’s three locations deploy three practices to enable future-focused data centres:

1. Use renewable energy sources to power data centres

2. Leverage natural air or liquid cooling systems that optimise data centre temperature and humidity while minimising energy costs. All additional atNorth sites will also reuse all the excess heat generated by the data centres in local communities.

3. Employ a team of experts on-site to help optimise every customer application

85% reduction in carbon emissions

In addition to saving on energy usage, BNP Paribas’ deployment with atNorth generated an 85% reduction in CO2 emission. Concurrently, this significant decrease bolsters BNP Paribas’ capabilities, enhancing service to its customers and lowering TCO. The new HPC data centre provides increased power efficiency at higher compute density.

“Having atNorth construct and manage our HPC cluster infrastructure, which is built on Dell Technologies’ custom-designed infrastructure, has been transformational,” said Ricardo Jantarada, Global Head of Telecom & Datacenter at BNP Paribas CIB. “Through atNorth’s innovative data centre design and Dell’s optimised systems, we have reduced our energy consumption by 50% due to the transition of our in-house data centre to atNorth’s sustainable facility. By using only renewable energy sources and decreasing our carbon footprint [by] 85%, BNP Paribas is realising its dual mission to reduce its environmental impact and better serve our customers.”

atNorth collaboration with Dell Technologies

The atNorth and Dell Technologies collaboration is catalysing powerful outcomes for customers such as BNP Paribas. atNorth helps companies with big compute needs make those deployments future-proof. That ‘proof’ includes economic reasons (costs, regulatory compliance) and also environmental reasons.

Dell Technologies and atNorth share a commitment to customer centricity. In the case of BNP Paribas, Dell Technologies conducted a thorough analysis of customer needs and used creative ways to address BNP Paribas’ pain points with infrastructure solutions. Customer centricity together with proven, innovative approaches to HPC, underpin the success of the atNorth and Dell Technologies collaboration.

“Dell Technologies’ ability to deeply understand customer needs and then innovatively meet them, is a stand-out quality that is extremely beneficial to our organisation and our customers’ organisations,” said ísli Kr. CCO, atNorth. “A shining example of that is our shared success in helping BNP Paribas enhance service to its customers via HPC, while also reducing TCO and environmental impact.”

Ricardo Jantarada, Global Head of Telecom & Datacenter at BNP Paribas CIB, discusses the project in more detail.

What does your role entail at BNP Paribas CIB?

My role is Head of Telecom and Datacenter for BNP Paribas CIB – part of BNP Paribas that deals with cooperating investment banking. I lead the telecom and data centre domain, which encompasses several activities, one of them is managing the data centre footprint for BNP Paribas CIB.

What was the key driver behind exponential infrastructure growth and how has this resulted in you being able to deliver more value to your customers?

The key driver is the business. The business is growing and the complexity of operations is exponentially growing too, which causes huge demand on computing power. This growth enabled us to look at our capacity, at our footprint, with a more holistic approach in terms of security and resiliency because those are key elements of the data centre, but also in terms of sustainability because the volumes we were getting didn’t make much sense in the current location. So we had to review our location strategy and sustainability was one of the key drivers we introduced into our data centre strategy.

What was it about atNorth and Dell Technologies that attracted you?

It was a very structured process. When we started this journey, we considered different opportunities, different locations, different operators, different manufacturers and when we looked at all those variables and elements that we could tweak to get to where we wanted to be, we landed on a very satisfying solution which allowed us to acquire hardware from Dell Technologiesthat meant we could reduce the consumption per server or per core – we compute the electricity consumption per core. It enabled us to reduce our consumption drastically for the same computing capacity. Then when we came across atNorth, its solution was very compelling as it allowed us to actually host this computing capacity with a very efficient energy management system. It’s the best of both worlds and ultimately, those two players were the natural players to accompany us in this project.

Why did you decide on the Nordic region as the prime location for operating your data centres?

There were two main drivers that led us to the Nordic region. First is that the climate is a lot more data centre friendly. Maintaining an infrastructure at the correct operational temperature is a lot easier in the Nordics because of the local climate.

The second is down to what we call the energy mix of the countries. The Nordic countries are very well equipped in clean energy. Some countries just use geothermal, some countries use hydraulic power, all of those power productions use very little carbon. They are a lot better compared to several countries where the electricity production is still evolving.  

Can you tell us more about atNorth’s innovative data centre design?

atNorth’sdata centre design is compliant with the data centre industry’s climate goals. Nordic countries take advantage of the climate. atNorthlooks carefully at the origin of the electricity it provides in its facilities, which is good for us in terms of helping us to deliver our strategy. atNorth clearly understands that running an efficient facility is not the only requirement, it’s also about how we reuse the heat we produce. Data centres produce a lot of heat and unless the technology changes, that’s always going to be the case. One of the key challenges today is how we can reuse that heat to be as sustainable as possible.

What are some of the sustainability benefits of adopting a novel HPC approach and how does this allow you to meet environmental and social challenges?

The way the HPC domain needs to evolve means we firstly need to consider how those buildings are constructed and how those location data centre facilities are constructed and to make sure that they are designed to be as effective as possible and as adapted as possible to their local climate. The origin of electricity is also critical because a data centre is just a black box that takes in electricity and produces heat, so looking at how the electricity is produced and its origin and impact on the environment, is key.

On the other hand, the heat that the data centre produces is just a waste. There will always be heat produced by data centres – it’s inherent to the technology – so the next step is to work on reusing this heat to reduce the impact of data centres. Other industries also need to play their part in this domain and develop themselves into heat collectors. It’s a transition that needs to be accompanied by industries and governments and local authorities.

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