Case Study: Reaping Rewards from Linux

Posted by kozmcrae on May 19, 2007 6:00 AM EDT
Business Week; By Tim Ferguson
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An open-source environment has helped Leeds stockbroker Redmayne-Bentley cut costs, boost revenues, and adapt to changing laws

Since stockbroker Redmayne-Bentley revamped its IT infrastructure with a move to Linux the business has been reaping the rewards.

The Leeds-based company moved onto a Linux-based platform last year after deciding an open source environment was the right choice for its growing business in a rapidly changing regulatory landscape.

The migration saw a series of applications moved onto a Linux environment on Unisys ES7000/one Enterprise Servers.

A major part of the business are the financial transactions carried out on bespoke software which previously sat on the old, Unix-based system.

The introduction of a new hardware OS was therefore a mission-critical project for the business said Michael Wheeler, finance partner at Redmayne-Bentley.

Since making the move, the business has seen an 88 per cent reduction in overnight processing time - from 13 hours down to 1.5 hours - along with a tenfold increase in processing power.

The new platform has also reduced the time to report trades while supporting an off-site disaster recovery system and upgraded business continuity.

Wheeler said the company now has a "core, stable and fairly bomb-proof platform".

Another major benefit has been a halving of software costs due to the reduced number of licences required.

But the stockbroker hasn't just saved money, it's also been able to boost its income: due to faster and more effective trading, twice as many clients are now paying a management fee on certain services it provides.

Wheeler said: "It's allowed us to improve our customer services a great deal."

From the beginning of 2006, Redmayne-Bentley worked with Unisys to understand the advantages of working in an open source environment. The IT services company then managed the platform migration last summer.

Wheeler said: "It became a fairly major project - it was very much a joint effort."

There was an initial testing period of 25 days when the Unix and Linux platforms were run in parallel - the Linux OS mirroring the transactions of the live system.

The full migration was then carried out over a single weekend towards the end of June 2006, without any unplanned downtime.

Wheeler said: "It's met our expectations. You always have things that have to be done - it'll never be complete.

"There's been a fair amount of tinkering."

Wheeler said much more will be put onto the platform over the next few years, as the company grows and addresses compliance issues presented by MiFID.

He added: "We have a fair amount of growth capacity."

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