Distributed Computing at de Volksbank

When I got involved in distributed computing back in 2004 – using the United Devices client on my Pentium IV Windows XP desktop – I couldn’t have imagined where that journey would take me. All these years I used my desktops, laptops and Android devices to add computing power to different projects, all at small scale. First stand-alone clients, later BOINC based projects.

These surplus computing resources are currently directed towards research on aids, cancer, ebola, tuberculosis and the zika virus, hoping it will result in cures, available decades earlier than without (super)computing power.

Earlier this year I told my colleague Kevin Wagemakers about World Community Grid, how it works and how it contributes to medicine research and other humanitarian causes. He became interested, formed a small team and took the opportunity to work out a strategy. It started with the creation of our team ‘de Volksbank’ and some quadcore Android smartphones. Later on we got an old decommissioned server (a hexadeca-core) which we set on display in the central hallway of our office. This setup was used to present the idea to management.

Kevin Wagemakers & Rick van de Westelaken standing in front of the public display cabinet containing a fully working HPE server and display driver. 

More colleagues became involved in the project and we accumulated more and more computing power. Old laptops, desktops, old servers and even cloud instances were added. Even this massive 10U Blade server started running dedicated World Community Grid.

HPE Blade enclosure with Gen7 and Gen8 Blade servers running World Community Grid 24/7.

Fast forward to today: we are now the no.1 World Community Grid team in The Netherlands and globally we are at position 27. The impact we can make with limited quantities of hardware is amazing. These surplus computing resources are currently directed towards research on aids, cancer, ebola, tuberculosis and the zika virus, hoping it will result in cures, available decades earlier than without (super)computing power.

HPE servers with two octa-core Xeon cpu’s each, running World Community Grid 24/7.

I’d like to thank my organization, de Volksbank, for all the support we’ve been given so far. And many thanks to the IBM World Community Grid team for enabling us to participate in this meaningful research.

Banner present in the public section of our office, stating information about the World Community Grid initiative and a call to action for colleagues to join our team

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