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Lab49 Client & Marketing Update.. December 12, 2007

Posted by newyorkscot in Client Engagement Mgt, Complex Event Processing, HPC, Marketing, SOA / Virtualization, Visualization / UX.
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The last few months and weeks have been a bit mad with a host of new client projects coming online, and a tidal wave of marketing activities.

On the project front, and despite some dodgy market conditions, we have been continuing to see (and have started) some interesting projects around automated trading: from market simulation environments to real-time pricing to risk management systems. We have also seen more projects on the buy-side where the level of innovation and adoption of the latest technologies is still impressive. In advanced visualization (specifically, WPF/Silverlight), we are starting to see interest across various trading businesses which is very promising going forward. We also continue to be involved in quite a few projects involving grid computing, distributed cache, etc.

On the marketing front, we have been busy publishing new articles, contributed to a number of features in various industry publications and are currently in the process of writing some thought leadership pieces for technology and finance publications. We have also been doing some great sales & marketing activities with some of our technology partners around, including working on some new client opportunities and developing some demos leveraging WPF and CEP platforms. (We will also be starting to talk a bit more openly about our various partnerships)

What’s great about the recent flurry of project and marketing activity has been the balance across high performance computing (grid, cache, etc), Java (J2EE, Spring, opensource), Microsoft (WPF, Silverlight) and other technologies (messaging, market data, visualization, etc), which really helps to show Lab49‘s depth and breadth across the technology space. Some highlights from the last few months include:

Lots more news, articles, features, partner updates, etc in the pipeline that I will post as they happen..

LiquidVM September 25, 2007

Posted by newyorkscot in SOA / Virtualization.
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I saw Guy Churchward, VP Engineering at BEA, give an interesting keynote speech (including a Shakespearean intro) on BEA’s new LiquidVM product at BEA World in San Francisco the other week. Guy runs BEA’s product strategy and development for technology in the virtualization/utility computing, event driven architectures (real-time and complex event processing), portals and JVM (JRockit) domains.

LiquidVM is yet to be released as a GA product — but it is essentially JRockit with various extensions that allows application to be run in a virtualized environment on the Hypervisor of the host machine (ie without the OS). The benefit is improved performance and utilization, better compression of workload (e.g. supporting massively more market data feeds in the data center), and cost reduction.

The keynote is now available here, and whitepaper here.

SOA On Wall Street: .NET 3.0 February 16, 2007

Posted by newyorkscot in SOA / Virtualization.
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This presentation was given by Mike DeSanti of Eikos Partners (a partner of Lab49) — he was supposed to do this with a Microsoft guy, but as Mike said “the guy from Microsoft had a virus and could not make it”. Very drole.

Mike ran through some standard Microsoft slides on the .NET 3.0 framework covering:

  • Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)  – increases productivity and promotes service-orientated development through  support of standards, message-orientated programming, attribute-based development, configuration-based communication, etc.
  • Windows Presentation Framework (WPF) – lots of cool UI tools and components, supports declarative programming that includes XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language)
  • Windows Workflow Framework (WWF)  – supports transparent declarative model-driven software,  implementation of long-running or stateful processes as well as flexible control flow (sequential, state machine, rules-driven)
  • Cardspace

Mike did a good job of pointing out where the various elements of the software stack can be applied to SOA. Our friend DLG was there to help out as well on some of the more detailed questions from the audience. But I thought Mike’s own slides on the trends in Financial Services were more interesting and indicative of what is actually going on in financial services. Key points:

Sell Side Trends & Issues

  • SOAs tend to be islands of implementations and specific web services tend to be organized along specific business or organizational units.
  • There is quite a bit of refactoring going on of (legacy) applications, and in some cases messaging buses are being used for pre-web standard applications to communicate into the architecture.
  • There is a general lack of co-ordination around SOA development
  • Business Process Layers are NOT being used to orchestrate Services. This is an issue given the complexity and the statefulness of some of these processes.

Buy-Side SOA Trends & Issues

  • Little investment in SOA and where they are trying to implement SOA, there tends to be a loose conformity to SOA standards/guidelines.
  • Business services tend to service multiple asset classes
  • Buy-side firms tend not to model their business process very well and tend to standardize on a single SOA solution stack (such as Microsoft!)
  • The services infrastructure is generally lighter as it does not need to handle as large volumes and in many cases does not need to support the complexities the sell-side firms experience.
  • There is has been a lack of broker-dealer standardization, so it is tough to reconcile services and data.
  • But they are beginning to use SOA technology and workflow models to integrate legacy applications and to buildreconciliation systems to manage multiple broker-dealers.

Overall, it would seem that Microsoft technologies are already being used to address many of the issues in Financial Services and that .NET 3.0 will prove to be a great enabler going forward. Compared to the IBM stack, the new Microsoft software felt much more in-tune with defining and developing compelling service-driven applications that support business workflow processes and very rich performant front-ends.

SOA On Wall Street: IBM-Fest February 16, 2007

Posted by newyorkscot in SOA / Virtualization.
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Well, once again, IBM leads off another conference with its keynote speech on how they have already solved the entire world’s problems. Although you know how the presentation is going to pan out, I was pleasantly impressed with the speaker, Sandra Carter, VP SOA and Websphere Strategy, Channels and Marketing — she stood in front of the podium without any prompts and delivered the presentation in a very professional and confident manner.

The IBM pitch was not a bad one and pointed out some of the considerations for building an SOA, such as being able to simulate and adapt to changes in the business process model. That said, there were some pretty strange statistics being quoted such as: “74% of CIOs with SOA strategies are on the executive committee of their company, versus 59% of CIOs without SOAs are not”, and “the average salary of a CIO with an SOA is $250k, versus $159k for those who do not”. That second statistic did not sound like Wall Street to me.

When IBM got into the details, there were all kinds of tools (and acronyms) being thrown around: Component Business Model (CBM), Service Orientated Modeling and Architecture (SOMA), SOA Business Catalog, SOA Maturity Model, Assessment Tool and Workshops, etc. On the product side of things, they illustrated a couple of case studies where there were different drivers for adopting SOA, each of which utilized a different set of various Websphere products such as Websphere Business Services Fabric, Process Server, Message Broker, MQ, DB2, etc.

Some time was then spent on Websphere Front Office for Financial Markets which is a “sharable low latency market data distribution service” – that sounds more like a repackaging of MQ to me than any revolutionary new product offering.  It also has “Reliable Multicast Messaging”, which is an upgraded pub/sub mechanism with higher performance levels. Additionally, “it prevents loss of market data ticks” and has metering, monitoring, auditing and entitlement capacilities. Specifically, this *new* piece of infrastructure can handle 100,000 messages/second and a latency in the order of 300 microseconds. It can also hook up to various market data providers such as Opera and Bloomberg (who are a development partner for this product) using their “binary self-describing ticks”. Sounds to me that IBM have decided that market data is their new strategy for financial markets. This was all demonstrated in an application that had a LOT of data flashing rapidly across it (we could not figure out if the demo was written in flash or Winforms – either way it did not look like a trading application !).

The presentation ended with a quick run through of thier Enterprise Service Bus Offering that includes 3 products for SOA: Websphere ESB (for web service integration); Websphere Message Broker (for web service and non-web service assets); and Websphere DataPower (a specialized hardware/software appliance that provides performance acceleration on XML processing as well as enhanced security capacilities).

In summary, it was typical stuff — lots of plumbing that probably needs a lot of IBM consulting services to generate a lot of reports/assessments to tell you how to use it.

SOA On Wall Street February 16, 2007

Posted by newyorkscot in SOA / Virtualization.
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Since a couple of us at Lab49 have been working on architecture projects for clients, I thought it might be useful to attend the WebServices / SOA On Wall Street conference to see what the usual plethora of vendors had to say for themselves these days. Not much is my verdict.

In the mostpart, this was attended by vendors who are selling a lot of infrastructure that has been given an SOA-spin. From integration servers to messaging infrastructures to testing frameworks to SOA Governance solutions to systems monitoring and management solutions. Quite a few of the vendors were clearly not established in the FS space (e.g. a company called RTI is predominantly an Aerospace and Military provider of a low latency high throughput messaging solution  — that happens to run all the messaging on US Navy warships– but spun as a market data distribution platform).

As usual, IBM and Microsoft were the elephants in the room, touting their soup to nuts software stacks for SOAs  (more on these in other postings).

I was disappointed that no-one had any real practical insight of how to actually build business-critical applications that run on an SOA. Yes, there were broad examples of the results of some client work, but nothing that touched on the nuances and complexities of actually building these solutions — other than IBM’s “web services is the industry standard best practice for implementing SOAs” ! No-one was talking about the types of the issues we have to deal with on a daily basis such as loose vs tight coupling, event-driven messaging, synchronization, business process control, migration of legacy applications, etc