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Maureen Nevin Duffy
Maureen Nevin Duffy
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Firms prep for T+1, using middleware to get them there

Middleware-the technology that sits between hardware and software, holding the promise of total communication in its grasp-has been irreverently called technology's glue. This is apropos for the financial industry, where middleware got its start filling the numerous gaps in the transmitting and processing of trades.

Dart chose a common platform approach, using Software Technologies Corporation's DataGate 3.0 to link the FX operations with the back office. The platform also will connect to the firm's data warehouse, currently being developed with a combination of Oracle software on an Information Builders Inc. (IBI) front end. Dart says the STC platform had a ""very rapid implementation,"" just three months, and has been running ""with no technology problems"" for the four months since it was launched. ""It's inherently stable and very cost effective,"" he notes. The next key operation to link up, the money market application, is scheduled to go live in September with the remainder pegged for next year, says Dart.

Messaging communications are at the core of many STP strategies. ""The use of messaging to decouple business applications from communication and platform-specific detail is critical to our strategy of competitive straight-through processing and accelerating the speed of system change,"" says Anne Lotz-Turner, executive director global technology, world markets, at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

The bank devised a strategy for ""System Integration Messaging"" to extend the life of the current application portfolio, lower the cost of interface development and increase enterprise connectivity by ensuring a common interface approach and platform, says Lotz-Turner. Her research, across 50 specific evaluation criteria, culminated in the selection of MQIntegrator for the platform, consisting of IBM's MQSeries for multi-platform transport and NEON (New Era of Networks) for brokering functionality; i.e., formatter, rules, etc.

Everyone's expectations of STP, depends on their own operations. At Salomon Smith Barney, Jim Leman, managing director, Capital Markets Division, says, ""The real STP for us is getting customers to be electronically linked to their brokers."" He won't consider his STP efforts complete until his wider client base can achieve FIX connectivity. For example, some of SSB's major clients use Thomson Oasys Global for their post- execution ticketing messaging system. Leman believes Oasys Global would be even more appealing to customers if it could accept FIX formatted messages. ""Customers need to extend their electronic management to include pre-trade delivery of orders and executions in FIX format,"" he says.

The emergence of GSTP raises issues of time considerations. For example, David Gilks, managing director of AXA Sun Life Asset Management, a member of the executive committee of GSTPA, is about to embark on an installation that his own efforts on the committee will make redundant in two years time.

The company will replace its inhouse order management system with IDEE, a modular system that also includes fund management functions, from SunGard. IDEE interfaces with Salerio, AXA's electronic trade confirmation system, from 110 Ltd., which in turn links to Oasys Global.

""The whole process will disappear with GSTP,"" Gilks says adding, however, that the ""two-year solution"" will have paid for itself in that time.

The goal of middleware vendors, in the words of State Street's Pierre, ""is to make the multitude of technology transparent to their clients, to act as a multi-polar plug. That's why middleware vendors have been so successful, because they have taken over all the headaches of making these technologies compatible with one another.""

Well, there still may be a migraine or two out there.

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