High performance computing workloads typically are very complex and costly to run. Teams of highly-skilled staff, access to expensive on premises and cloud resources, complex ongoing operational procedures, maintenance, and support are usually required.
Large companies can afford the associated costs but such demanding requirements represent a competitive barrier that severely limits opportunities for smaller firms. This is where GridMarkets makes it mark.
GridMarkets has eliminated this competitive barrier, thereby permitting small and medium-sized companies to enhance their creativity and competitiveness.
The company’s process is modeled after the simple procedure we use to print a document – a dialog box appears within the application to ascertain the parameters of the print request. Meanwhile, we are oblivious to the complexity of the translation of that process into the action of printing.
The Two Pillars of GridMarkets
Mark Ross and Hakim Karim are the Cofounders of GridMarkets. Their professional experience prior to founding the organization lies with global Fortune 500 financial services companies.
Mark’s roles have included that of Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Architect at companies like the American International Group, SunLife Financial Services, Credit Suisse and Thomson-Reuters.
He has developed and delivered technology strategies and tactics for American, European and Asian businesses involved in equities and fixed income trading, life and nonlife insurance, and mutual funds. In 2009, Mark was awarded the prestigious IDC Enterprise Innovation Award. He has lived and worked in New York City, Paris, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne and, now, Silicon Valley.
Hakim’s experience includes Goldman Sachs, Accenture, and Thomson-Reuters, where he served as Regional Strategic Business Development Director and tripled revenues to US$30 million in three years. Hakim has had global postings in New York City, London, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.
He was named as one of 50 people “who will help shape Malaysia’s digital economy.” In 2014, Hakim was selected to become an Endeavor Entrepreneur.
Tackling Complex Situations
As, GridMarkets evolved and grew, the challenges that it faced also evolved and grew in complexity.
The very first challenge that the organization faced was to build and stabilize its platform. Clients were trusting GridMarkets with their animation and special effects projects that typically have very tight deadlines, security concerns and budget constraints. Without honoring their trust, it had no chance of surviving even its first year.
For this reason, the company had spent two years testing its creation with “friendlies”, building confidence along the way. Even after that, GridMarkets was initially released to a limited subset of the market, and for a narrow range of services.
Then came the challenge of growing the team. GridMarkets was very small, and needed to add vital skills like creative animation, cloud DevOps and other engineering specialties to its roster. This had to be achieved while ensuring that new staff shared the passion and mindset of the core team. Here the journey was somewhat serendipitous in that it had the good fortune of attracting people who were just the right fit at just the right time. One of these accidental meetings resulted in the hiring of their key architect and developer.
Then came the challenge of finding customers and revenue. GridMarkets took on a number of high-profile seed investors, including executives from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the global hedge fund, TPG.
The company’s philosophy was: focus on delivering a reliable, responsive and fairly-priced service that meets the needs of customers… and the revenues will follow.
For this stage of growth, the company focused the overwhelming majority of its resources on engineering and customer support, and close to nothing on marketing, business development and sales. In the end, the gamble paid off because happy customers would refer other customers.
Today, over 50% of new business the company enjoys comes from referrals by satisfied customers.
Handling the Greatest Project
Two years ago, the CEO of an Israeli company phoned GridMarkets in desperation. He was scheduled to give a major presentation in 12 days to the mayor of a major global city. This involved a realistic fly-through of simulated city disaster scenarios. Critical to these scenarios was a high-resolution digitized version of the entire city.
The CEO’s team had estimated the process would take at least six weeks but a friend pointed him to GridMarkets. To process the Israeli company’s workload in less than 12 days, GridMarkets needed to spread it over a sufficient number of machines, across multiple servers in multiple global data centers. It did so successfully.
It has since been challenged by increasingly larger and more complex projects, some with even tighter completion windows. These include demanding projects for the BBC, Super Bowl commercials produced by Fox Studios, and music videos for DeadMau5.
GridMarkets is confident that it can handle any project and this confidence originated from its “Greatest Project.”
GridMarkets is at the beginning of the product and service innovation journey. There are many opportunities to further enhance its platform – to make it faster, to make it easier to use and to make it more affordable.
The organization has an eminently-qualified and passionate team, a proven business model and a technical platform that has successfully processed millions of digital computations. Since the platform has been designed to be workload-agnostic, it can adapt easily to serve other verticals in the $US30B a year high performance computing market, of which less than 5% of global workloads have moved to the cloud.