When Riswan Khalfan, chief information officer at TD Securities, set out to improve the performance of the bank's options-trading system last year, he couldn't find ready-to-use technology suitable for the job. So he agreed to let his company become a test subject for a research project at IBM called "stream" computing. The technology, developed over half a decade by a team of 70 scientists and engineers at IBM Research, allows companies to analyze data as it's being received—rather than having to place it first in a database.
In TD Securities' case, stream computing lets it handle 5 million pieces of options trading data per second, analyze them on the fly, and make automated trading decisions. That compares with the 1 to 2 million per second rate the bank typically handles on its current trading system. "In this business, quicker decisions are better decisions," says Khalfan. "If you fall behind, you're dealing with stale data and that puts you at a disadvantage." The bank is now considering switching its entire trading system to the new technology.
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