LinuxWorld: IBM Crows As SIAC Embraces Linux

The Securities Industry Automation Corporation, whose computing systems handle the actual transactions of the New York and American stock exchanges, is running its major reporting system to customers under Linux, representatives of the key Wall Street institution said Tuesday at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

The move was heralded by IBM officials as a sign that Linux is taking over more mission-critical functions inside enterprises, despite criticism from Microsoft and other parties that open source code isnt ready to assume such a role.

"SIAC isnt running all its trades under Linux, but I would call Artmail a mission-critical application in their operations," said Steve Solazzo, IBM vice president for Linux. The Artmail application supplies daily reports on trades to SIAC customers. SIAC is one of the first major U.S. companies to publicly acknowledge implementing a key system under Linux, he added.

A year ago, IBM cited the use of Linux at the University of New Mexico or the University of Maui, he said, but it had no public examples of Linux being used on Wall Street.

Other financial institutions have implemented Linux in a similar fashion, but they have been unwilling to go public with the results of their adoption, he said.

"SIAC is the first in a long list of financial institutions that have implemented Linux, at least on a trial basis," said Daniel Frye, director of IBMs Linux Technology Center.

Gerard Sztabnik, SIAC director of application development, termed Artmail one of SIACs key customer applications. At the direction of Senior Vice President Steve Romano, he moved it from its target environment, two Sun Microsystems Solaris servers, to an IBM zSeries or mainframe, running Linux as a guest under the mainframes VM operating system.

The move required changes to only about one percent of the code, since, like Solaris, Linux is a version of Unix. Linux was developed by open source code developer Linus Torvalds for Intel hardware. "We ported it in about 2.5 days. It was a piece of cake," he said.

Sztabnik developed Artmail to automate SIACs reporting to its customer base. Among other thing, Artmail sends reports to the member firms of the Depository Trust Clearing Corp. on what bills they have incurred as a result of trades.

"Artmail allows us to have capability to deliver reports to our end users as attachments, via the Internet," Sztabnik said. SIAC computer systems run all the trades and record the transactions of both exchanges. The Artmail reports list each days trades and the value of transactions in extensive detail for each brokerage house, he said.

Running Artmail on the mainframe was SIACs "first foray into Linux," he added. SIAC plans to put its internal reporting system under Linux as well. That system captures the delivery times and other statistics on the reports it delivers to clients, giving SIAC a measure of how well it is meeting its obligations, he said.

Asked how far SIAC will go in using Linux, Sztabnik said, "Its tough to say. Six months ago, I didnt know we had Linux. Now we have one application running under it and two more that will be going on the same system in the next few months."

The trading and reporting systems run by SIAC handle a total of 80 billion bytes of data daily, he said. The Artmail system itself requires one processor in a mainframe and is using a fraction of that total to assemble its reports, he said.