March 30, 2006

Tradeware trades Solaris for Red Hat

Author: Tina Gasperson

Tradeware Global is a financial services company that allows securities brokers to provide direct market access to their clients. It currently handles 5% of all transactions in the New York and American stock exchanges. Tradeware is about halfway through with an infrastructure migration that is moving the company's 100+ servers off of Solaris and onto Red Hat Linux.

Direct market access is a new buzz phrase in securities brokerage. It allows the "buy side" -- institutions that typically engage the services of a broker -- to control market transactions by leasing the broker's access to those markets. Brokers get a new income stream, and companies save money on deeply discounted commissions.

Tradeware manages hardware and software for brokers who sell direct market access. Jordan Greenberg, the manager of operations for the company, began a migration two years ago to Red Hat and a full suite of open source software that he says has brought new speed and stability to the server farm.

"We were originally a Solaris shop," Greenberg says. "But we've always been a proponent of open source. We develop our own software in-house." He says that as software developers, he and his staff of a dozen appreciate open source and the ability it gives them to efficiently deploy and configure applications "to our liking."

Because of that foundation of trust in open source, it was no big deal to begin a move away from Solaris, although Greenberg says he's had to reassure some of his clients that moving to open source was the right decision. "Little by little we're going through it. We have to take it at their pace," he says. "But all new installations are Linux-based."

Since Tradeware runs a large number of servers -- Greenberg says he is not at liberty to disclose the exact number but says it is more than 100 -- one of the open source applications it has made heavy use of is the Qlusters Resource Manager (QRM). The product helps systems administrators automate data center tasks like scripting and server replications.

"We use it to run availability and server provisioning," Greenberg says. Server provisioning is the process of allocating resources to users and systems. Open source has saved Tradeware Global money in procurement and purchasing, he says. "I don't have to pay for the software, I can modify it as needed, and I don't have to worry about someone changing licensing models on me.

"We save a tremendous amount of money in man hours," Greenberg says. "The data center is a black hole of time and money. Anytime I have my engineers out there doing physical work it's time I have to take away from applications development. That's where we've saved the most."

Greenberg says Tradeware also uses Apache, Sendmail, Postfix, Sybase, and the Big Brother system monitor, among others. On the desktop, it's a healthy mix of Linux and Windows, he says, with about 40% of workstations running some flavor of Linux. Greenberg runs Gentoo, and his developers run Slackware and Ubuntu.

"We're not buying any new Solaris equipment," he says.

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