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Evolutions and revolutions: how MTS keeps up with fast-changing technology

Published in Automated Trader Magazine Issue 26 Q3 2012

How does an electronic market make sound decisions when technology is changing at such a rapid pace? What are the trade-offs between price and performance? Andy Webb spends some time with MTS CTO Fabrizio Cazzulini and Fabrizio Testa, head of product development, to get the answers.

Fabrizio Cazzulini

Fabrizio Cazzulini

Andy Webb: We'll start with investment in technology - how does MTS as an organisation think about investment in technology? Is there a board-level policy?

Fabrizio Cazzulini: The process essentially involves putting together a proposal for the board, based on the prevalent business requirements and the best available technologies to achieve those requirements. Specifically, we look at the toolbox of available technical solutions and decide which is the best fit for the business requirements, also taking into account the cost of the various alternatives. For instance, in the continuous pursuit of increasing capacity and reducing latency and costs without upsetting the existing infrastructure, a decision was made to move towards a Linux RedHat MRG and InfiniBand infrastructure. We realise that, in the future, we may need to make the transfer to a FPGA-based technology which, at the moment, may entail very high costs and complexity.

Andy Webb: From a purely hypothetical perspective, say that you know a particular technology will not only be the best solution for this year or next year but will enable you to 'future proof' a lot of your development. In other words, it's got a nice development path over the next decade but it costs more than another technology. What's the sort of thinking at board level?

Fabrizio Cazzulini: It depends pretty much on the situation. If the argument and proof of concept can demonstrate clear benefits of a new technology, the board would take cognizance of that. At the end of the day, we are an electronic market and if a case can be made to support the use of a new technology, it would be in the best interests of the company for the board to approve investment in the technology. Given that we are running a mission-critical system, we are wary of being a 'guinea pig' for a new solution. We tend to adopt a second release of the product just to make sure that we are not facing possible issues.

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