Silver lining for traders as BT extends its cloud in Asia

BT, a communications solutions provider, intends to boost its investments in Asia Pacific as part of a global initiative to take integrated trading technology to the next level.
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BT, a communications solutions provider, intends to boost its investments in Asia Pacific as part of a global initiative to take integrated trading technology to the next level.

“We've taken a strategic view to invest heavily in Hong Kong and the rest of the region,” says Kevin Taylor, BT's president for Asia Pacific. “We are growing at about 10% per annum in this region. We're hiring another 300 people in the region; the key hiring places are the financial services hotspots – Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Mumbai. We are hiring another 300 people on top of that within the next two years.”

In September last year, BT rolled out its collaboration suite of products and services designed to bring the global trading community closer together.

The company is now set to kick off customer trials for its next-generation voice trading platform, with live deployments expected to begin from July. The new platform is designed to break down the barriers of physical and proprietary hardware switches via use of an open, software-based component model, which can be distributed across a trading firm or into the ”cloud'. Cloud refers to a type of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service, typically over the internet, but potentially via any suitable communications network. Moreover, unlike previous voice-trading systems, BT's new service integrates with electronic trading platforms, turning voice into text that can populate fields in order management systems.

Howard Boville, BT's head of financial markets and managing director of trading systems, says the shift will reduce the space and computing resources required to support trading operations. “In the days of analogue equipment, the largest trading floors could need up to 200 racks of equipment – the equivalent of a basketball court,” he explains. “Going digital then reduced this to around 20 racks, about the size of a squash court. This move to switchless open components is the next step in the evolution of the trading communications world and can reduce the data centre space required down to just two racks, about the size of a pool table, saving space, power and CO2 emissions.”

BT's new suite of services offers customers a powerful set of cost-effective, cloud-based services, including the next-generation voice trading platform and various collaboration services that bring together multiple communication channels and market information (voice, video, messaging systems, market data and trading applications) onto one consistent dashboard, either at the desktop or on mobile devices.

According to Boville, the goal of the new suite is intelligence augmentation. “Within the heart of the digital world of computing is an analogue device, which is a human being. So how do you allow that intelligence that human beings have to be augmented by the technology that sits around them? That's very much what the new platform does. It gives consideration to the constraints and limitations that we humans have in terms of processing data simultaneously, but provides tools that allow them to operate in a most efficient and optimal fashion, be it through interaction, conversations or transactions,” Boville says.

In addition, BT Radianz Managed Infrastructure is a connectivity and hosting platform which comprises over 14,000 members and provides connectivity to more than 400 financial content and service providers including the 10 leading global stock exchanges, top 50 global broker-dealers and 48 of the 50 largest global asset managers. BT's collaboration service can be embedded into a company's own network environment, as well as accessed through Radianz's multiple connections. In many senses it is BT's very own cloud and is being used increasingly to distribute software and services across the financial community. One application recently made available via Radianz is Codel Digital Notary, which allows financial institutions to protect and prove the integrity of electronic data such as messages, files and documents.

BT also recently launched its Managed Secure Messaging service, which allows the financial community to exchange messages securely, reliably and in a non-repudiable manner over BT private networks and the internet for all of its business activities. The service is designed to meet the security requirements of banks, clearing houses and securities depositories as well as corporate treasurers.

Author: Jill Wong