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Previewing Summer LinuxWorld - page 2

Growing With Each Passing Day

  • July 10, 2003
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

One of the key industries moving hard and fast into Linux is the financial sector. Bill Bradway from IDC's Financial Insights and Josh Levine of E*TRADE Financial are two of the speakers who will be appearing in this track. Levine and E*TRADE in some ways are the poster children of the value of open source and Linux in this sector. Perhaps it has something to do with saving over $13 million in the last year after converting from Unix to Linux. You can hear more about his experience in his talk, �Unshackled from Proprietary Technology.�

Bill Bradway presented on the topic �Linux Goes Mainstream in Financial Services: Hype or Reality?� at LinuxWorld Expo's fall show in New York, but there are a number of updates he'll be covering in his talk in the San Francisco session. The big news here is that the financial services industry has launched into a new phase of Linux adoption. Rather than just moving over to Linux for file servers and Web servers, these global corporations are actually porting their mission critical applications.

These aren't off-the-shelf programs, either. For example, a top investment bank (Credit Suisse First Boston) gave Red Hat its first major deal in Wall Street for assistance in porting their in-house, proprietary application for trade order management, which keeps track of what securities have been bought, sold, and more. Then there is Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, a subsidiary of one of the largest insurance companies in the world. This company ported its internal portfolio risk management application and installed it on a Linux cluster of 80 Intel 4000R servers. Suddenly the eleven hour portfolio risk processing job was cut in half. The significance of this doesn't really hit you until you realize that this freed up capital that they could suddenly use elsewhere.

What's encouraging these financial institutions to make the plunge? Part of it is larger vendor buy-in. We've all heard plenty of stories about hardware and software vendors that have thrown their lot in with Linux, but the major factor is that vendors specifically in the financial sector vertical market are now making the switch. For example, Algorithmics has partnered with IBM and HP to port its widely-used risk management application. No one takes these conversions lightly. The end product must be as simple and efficient as the previous one, and preferably moreso. As Bradway puts it, �[it's in] everybody's best interest to make sure [this project is] successful: not the Colorado rapids where you're hoping you make it and still in the raft, ... [but] more like an excurison around the harbor.�

Other facts bringing companies into the open source fold include the simple Linux advantages that so many believe are there, but have been struggling to quantify: it's easy to justify the transition when the cost is so low, since it gives a quick return on the initial investment. It also doesn't hurt that many of these institutions are running Unix applications. Porting code from Unix to Linux is not nearly as complex an operation as it is to port code from unrelated operating systems. Just ask Sanchez Computer Associates, which has verified that one of their customers is successfully running their core PROFILE/Anywhere product under Linux.

More examples like these will help to make Bradway's presentation and the entire Linux Financial Summit something no one in the financial industry will want to miss.

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