NYSE CIO Sees Turbulent Times Impacting Technology Choices

By Steven Burke, ChannelWeb
02 Jun 2009
URL: http://www.crn.com/it-channel/217701351;jsessionid=KZ005RDEUZO1EQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN

The turbulent economic times are impacting technology choices, with the uncertainty causing companies to accept alternatives they would not have looked at even one year ago.

That was the assessment of Steve Rubinow, executive vice president and Co-Global Chief Information Officer of NYSE Euronext, which runs the NYSE and other trading exchanges around the world, in a keynote address Tuesday kicking off Everything Channel’s VAR500 conference, a gathering of the world’s biggest and most successful solution providers, in the heart of Wall Street.SteveRubinow01

“I have seen in our company, and other companies, people asking questions and accepting alternatives that they never ever would have considered a year ago,” said Rubinow. “A year ago they would have said, ‘That is too crazy. That is risky. That makes no sense. We could never accomplish that.’ Now all of a sudden they are saying. ‘Let’s talk about that. That does make sense.’ Depending on if you are a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty person, it is either a problem or an opportunity.”

NYSE Euronext, for example, has shrunk its labor force and will continue to look to do more with less, said Rubinow. The key is looking at IT projects with a “blank sheet” bottom-up approach, he said.

That means not just relying on computing giants to keep its complex trading systems up and running, said Rubinow. “We like to work with smaller companies,” he said. “We look at small companies even though one might say it might be risky because they are not established. We know that all of the great innovation doesn’t come out of the industry giants. Smaller companies have a really good innovation record, too, provided we have the proper risk reward curve there.”

NYSE Euronext, for example, has partnered on a data warehousing project with Greenplum, a San Mateo, Calif., database company that has won kudos for providing petabyte scale analytics at blinding speeds, and Netezza, a maker of data warehouse appliances based in Marlborough, Mass.

The key to choosing those smaller vendors was “innovation at a great cost,” said Rubinow. “We have difficult problems that not everyone can solve so we have to look wherever someone might have a potential solution and have a discussion with them.”

The data warehousing project represented a “portfolio approach” with niche vendors, said Rubinow. “Each one of these has a sweet spot in the data warehousing space,” he said. “Rather than saying one size fits all, we said, ‘These guys are good with this application,’ and, ‘These guys are good with that application.’ ”

Rubinow said he was amazed that some think of the exchange as an “old fuddy duddy” when it comes to making technology decisions. NYSE Euronext, for example, created a stir in the technology community years ago when it standardized on Linux.

The major vendors have “lots of good ideas, but they don’t have all the answers,” said Rubinow. “Because our industry is so dynamic and so demanding we need to find answers where we can find them.”

Rubinow said one of the secrets to managing during these turbulent economics times is “keeping your eye on the ball and, to use the overused expression, try to think out of the box as much possible because difficult times call for new ways of doing things as opposed to just the old ways. We try very hard to do that.”

As for what VARs make the grade as partners with the NYSE Euronext, Rubinow said the key is finding solution providers “taking care of our needs and watching out for us.”

“The overused word is ‘partnership,’ which everybody gets so tired of hearing,” said Rubinow. “When it really works out well we are watching each other’s backs, so to speak. We have a lot of good relationships with VARs that actually provide better service than if we went direct to the vendor.

“In other cases, the VAR is really just an order taker and sometimes the value proposition is lacking,” said Rubinow. “So it really depends on the company and the transaction. We have a mixture. But we do have some really good VARs that really go the extra mile to make sure we are getting the best possible value, the best possible service and it’s a really good relationship.”