Wall Street Adopts New Technology

The financial industry flocks to Linux and service-oriented architecture.

When it comes to adopting leading-edge technology, Wall Street is among the first in line, despite the fact that other peoples money depends on the street. These days, Wall Street is moving on service-oriented architectures in Linux and grid computing environments.

UBS Investment Bank, for instance, is running grid computing in two categories. One is "specific grid for heavy-duty computing to streamline calculations and make them as fast as possible," said Sheppard Nakier, UBS chief architect, at the Linux on Wall Street Show & Conference here last week. UBS is also looking at grid computing for employing "fast and cheap processors" in clusters for handling various applications, Nakier said.

As financial services companies consolidate data centers and add computing power to process new, complex algorithms, IT managers are looking to cluster systems and componentized applications. SOAs offer the best way to do that, said Chris Keene, CEO of Persistence Software Inc. Financial services companies ought to "structure software systems as reusable services" or, in other words, move to SOAs and "distribute services to geographically dispersed customers," said Keene, whose San Mateo, Calif., company develops object data management solutions.

Although not moving to a complete SOA environment, one foreign-exchange portal based here is working Web services into many of its applications. "We support Web services in general as a way of getting in and out of different systems," said Sean Gilman, chief technology officer at Currenex Inc., adding that the company has about 13 ongoing integration projects.

Gilman said Currenex is migrating from proprietary Sun Microsystems Inc. Unix boxes to Intel Corp.-based Hewlett-Packard Co. machines running Linux. Linux offers better performance and projected reliability, he said.

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Currenex does more than 2.5 million spot updates per day, Gilman said, "and were looking at doubling our volume." The foreign-exchange market does about $1 trillion in transactions per day, he added.

"The more time you have between the beginning and end of an execution, the more slippage you can have," Gilman said. "Matching orders can be extremely CPU-intensive, and this is why we brought in the Linux systems. We will keep the Sun systems to service our Web layer, where we will use them to push out static data, but were upgrading to Linux on HP and Red Hat [Inc.] for our ESP [executable streaming prices] systems."

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