Banks Want to Swim With the Penguins
The Bulls and the Bears may soon be standing on the unemployment line.
Tux the penguin, Linux's beloved mascot, is rapidly becoming the financial services industry's totem animal of choice. In fact, it seems that the only steadily rising statistic on Wall Street these days is the number of companies moving to open-source systems.
"Linux is probably the only good news that we've had in the financial industry over the past couple of years," said Keith Codell, a systems administrator for a Wall Street firm. "Linux is reliable -- it never crashes, it's secure. Wouldn't it be sweet if the market was more like Linux?"
Linux's influence on the banking and investment industry is expected to broaden this week, with the introduction of a Linux-based system that will provide some of the world's biggest banks and investment firms with the data and news they use to make trading decisions.
Reuters announced on Monday that its popular Reuters Market Data System, or RMDS, has been ported to Linux, in response to what Reuters spokespeople described as "intense customer demand."
"The call for RMDS for Linux has been astounding," said Peter Lankford, head of real-time content-management systems for Reuters. "And the response from our beta testers, even those who initially dismissed Linux as 'experimental technology,' has been overwhelmingly positive.
"They saw performance improvements and cost savings. These folks are bankers, and they know you almost never get more for less -- but this time they did."
Reuters began beta testing RMDS for Linux in October. Lankford wouldn't reveal names, but said the RMDS beta was tested in six of the world's largest financial institutions.
"I have to admit I was shocked at the complete lack of negative feedback," Casey Merkey, global program manager for RMDS on Linux. "You always get negative feedback in beta tests."
Merkey said that even the customers who were not convinced they wanted to use a Linux system converted quickly once they started using it.
"Some of our more challenging customers suddenly became my very best friends," he said.
Financial industry heavyweights such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs Group and E-Trade have all announced major Linux deployments in recent months.
Anyone who attended this year's LinuxWorld tradeshow in New York noticed that many attendees appeared to have been bussed in directly from Wall Street.
Lankford said banks and investment houses are turning to Linux as a way to save money and improve performance and reliability.
"Financial institutions are sending their vendors a very clear message," Lankford said. "They need to reduce costs. To survive in the current economic climate they want open systems that lower total cost of ownership without comprising flexibility or increasing risk.
"Or, as the saying goes, 'It's the economy, stupid,'" Lankford said. "They spend less, and they get more. What could be better than that?"
"Better is exactly the point," said Mike Evans, vice president of business development with Red Hat. "You've got thousands of the best programmers in the world poring over Linux code, incorporating everything that we've all learned about how to build a better operating system.
"Yes, Linux is more cost-effective. It's highly efficient and rock solid too. It's a modern operating system."
Reuters worked with Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and Intel to create a Linux-compliant version of RMDS that runs on Intel-based servers.
"Somehow, people don't seem to realize HP is so deeply involved with open source," said Judy Chavis, HP's worldwide director of Linux. "When we first began talking with Reuters, I think their people were surprised that we even knew how to spell Linux."
by Michelle Delio