Sunday, August 30, 2009

Open Source technologies now sought by Wall Street companies

Economic slowdown had a huge impact on the financial institutions around the world. Recession has forced these financial institutions to take a look at their budget as well as the technology that they are using. In times like this open source technology is growing in the capital markets because of increased cost pressures. Many Wall Street companies are now adopting open source even though there are many who still believe that any software that they develop is proprietary and has a competitive edge.

"What the crisis has done is shattered the orthodoxy in what is accepted as the correct way to build out systems, and it has allowed people to think more creatively about how their software works," comments Graham Miller, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketcetera, an open source platform for building automated trading systems to Wall Street and Technology. Many banks and brokers have been running open source applications like Linux and the free Apache web servers in the back office. Now, open source is finding its way to the front office trading desk as well.

Many open source companies are booming in times like these. One such example is Esper, which provides an open-source event stream processing and complex event processing (CEP) solution. Esper is already built. Instead of being a standalone server product that runs as a separate product, it's a library that companies can link in with their own proprietary stuff.

Recently, many Wall Street IT developers have started participating in open source technology projects. Firms like Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Borse Systems participated in the open source (AMQP) Advanced Message Queing (popular open source project among the financial services industry) Working Group and collaborated on standards for messaging infrastructure. "AMQP is not just a financial service [project], but it's something that has been taken seriously in the financial services space. Tough economy has opened the growth of open source. You get your base products for free, and you're essentially getting innovation in that product for free, because people are contributing and improving the software all the time," said Kevin McPartland, Senior Analyst at TABB Group to Wall Street and Technology.

Cost still remains the most important reason especially when many major vendors have increased the licensing fees of their product. Buying a Trading system from a vendor will require lengthy and costly customization. "We've built out a platform product that provides out-of-the-box components for market data, signal analysis engines, market connectivity and user interface capabilities to exchanges, ECNs, brokers and lots of different destinations," says Miller. Marketcetera launched Version 1.0 of its Trading Platform, which can be downloaded free-of-charge from its Web site. They have tried to follow Red Hat way of providing fee-based service and support. The company integrates several open-source technologies including QuickFIX/J, a messaging engine for the FIX protocol, and QuantLib, a free library for quantitative finance and Esper.

However, despite open source company's claim many experts doubt that open source is cheaper than software vendors. Custom development of open source software can be more costly than proprietary software. "It might look cheaper on paper but if you look at what you want to do with it, and it requires a substantial engineering effort rather than a commercial product, then it's not necessarily the most effective solution," says Adam Honore, Senior Analyst at Aite Group. He further adds that there could be support, maintenance and accountability issues with some open source vendors.

Agencies

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