NYSE Opens Up About Giving Up Control

jennifercloer's picture

Things are really heating up in anticipation for the Sixth Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit taking place April 3-5, 2012. Earlier this week, we talked to Gerrit Huizenga about Linux and cloud computing, and Amanda McPherson shared a peek at the behind-the-scenes work that will take place at The Linux Foundation's Member Legal Summit on April 2.

We also had the opportunity to talk to NYSE Technologies' Head of Global Alliances Feargal O'Sullivan. He will be a keynote presenter at the Collaboration Summit and will be talking about "Open Middleware Standards for the Capital Markets and Beyond."

Can you give us a bit of a teaser on your keynote presentation and tell us how NYSE Technologies identified an opportunity to open source its messaging API and help create the OpenMAMA project?

O'Sullivan: We considered open sourcing our Middleware Agnostic Messaging API for a number of years before finally making it happen late last year. One of the major reasons to do so was to allow our community of users to help develop the additional middleware 'bridges' we wanted to support faster than we could on our own. Of course, we were concerned about losing control of the process and, quite frankly, about opening our revenue generating Market Data Platform to increased competition.

The change came around January 2011 when we first presented the idea to our Technical Advisory Group. We proposed it as part of our overall strategy of building a community around an open infrastructure platform with common standards for capital markets participants. The idea received unanimous support and a level of enthusiasm that took even us by surprise. What it told us is that the industry suffered from 'vendor lock-in' due to proprietary APIs, which stifle both competition and innovation, as well as increasing total cost of ownership.

OpenMAMA returns choice to the user, forcing vendors to compete on features and value, which is better for everyone.

What is your biggest lesson learned that you can share with others who might be considering open sourcing technology?

O'Sullivan: Our biggest lesson learned was not to try to go it alone! When we first engaged The Linux Foundation, we had little experience in open sourcing software. We quickly learned that for OpenMAMA to be successful it needed the neutrality and credibility of being a truly open source project. That isn't as simple as it sounds; had we chosen the wrong license, or hosted OpenMAMA on a server in one of our data centers, it would have seriously undermined the project. Without the benefit of The Linux Foundation's experience, we wouldn't have known any better until it was too late.

What do you consider the advantages of open sourcing this technology?

O'Sullivan: OpenMAMA's true value lies in its agnostic architecture, which allows developers to code to a single API while enabling administrators to switch between supported middleware platforms to meet the requirements of the environment where the application is deployed. However, before being open sourced, MAMA only supported middleware platforms that made commercial sense for NYSE Technologies to develop. This meant leaving out other valuable middleware platforms because we didn't have the time or resources to support each one. Open sourcing unlocks the full potential of the API by giving control to the end users. Ultimately, OpenMAMA will make NYSE Technologies' clients happier and our products more functional.

How is the OpenMAMA project doing? Can you give us some updates?

O'Sullivan: So far, the OpenMAMA project has demonstrated a level of success that even we are finding hard to believe. Our approach was to open the C portion of the API at the launch in October 2011 and then contribute the remaining functionality in April 2012. In parallel we formed the OpenMAMA Steering Committee comprised of users, vendors and direct competitors, to govern the project. This gives the committee time to form a cohesive group and set the direction of the project, while in parallel giving the technical working groups time to evaluate the code and decide what their priorities are for the roadmap. On April 30, when we contribute the final pieces of the API, and when everyone gathers for The Linux Foundation's Enterprise End User Summit (which we are hosting at the New York Stock Exchange this year), the community will be fully prepared to take this project forward.

We're definitely looking forward to visiting your space in April! Can you tell us more about your decision to host this year's Enterprise End User Summit and why the event is a priority for your organization?

O'Sullivan: We at NYSE Technologies have always been keen users of open source technology. Furthermore, it is well known that the entire capital markets community heavily depends on Linux and other open source initiatives. So we see this as the perfect venue to release the final pieces of the OpenMAMA stack and to continue advocating its value proposition to all interested participants.

That, and everyone loves a party!

More details on O'Sullivan's keynote, as well as the other keynote presentations and sessions can be found on The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit website. If you're not already attending, you can still request an invitation.