ASX to develop a data lake as part of technology overhaul

The Australian Securities Exchange has partnered with Tibco for its Enterprise Service Bus platform that will be used to help the ASX eventually develop a data strategy.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Why fix something when it's not broken has been the attitude for the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) for nearly the last decade when it comes to updating the backend technology system, and even to this day, ASX group executive Tim Thurman said it is functioning as it should with 100 percent availability.

However, the issue Thurman has with the current backend platform is that it is not allowing for the company to innovate.

"Part of the challenge is we've got a lot of platforms that are very old....and very stable, but part of the problem is it doesn't allow you to innovate quickly enough," he said.

The existing ASX technology stack is currently made up of two separate trading platforms, which were created when the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange were merged to form the ASX back in 2006. While the brands merged, the technology stack from each organisation remained very separate.

The need for the organisation to overhaul its technology strategy, which would include seeing the two existing platforms become integrated, was not initiated until about four years ago when then-CEO Elmer Funke Kupper had a vision to create a "truly vertically integrated exchange".

As part of the overhaul, the ASX has partnered with Tibco for its Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to provide the interface between each of its core business services. The API architecture provided by the Tibco ESB platform will allow ASX to streamline data changes without having to alter the underlying systems, something which Thurman said he is particularly interested in.

"The way the technology was and currently is they're very much independent in the way they talk to each other, so there's very much customised APIs, hundreds of them that is just everywhere," he said.

"So, when you look at a technical document of our platform, it's like a spider web of data just going everywhere. Our goal was to standardise that so we could house that data, and we could eventually take it from one point."

Thurman believes in the long run building out a centralised data lake over the upcoming months -- something in which he says is a key strategic agenda for the ASX -- will enable the organisation to build a data strategy, and eventually analyse the existing data so that it can be more proactive and predictive in what its clients are seeing.

"We're getting much better at it purely because the data is much more accessible and having the tools to sample the data," he said.

Off the back of this, Thurman said there are plans to move from having four separate clearing systems to just one.

Earlier in the year, the ASX and Nasdaq announced a partnership that will see Nasdaq replace ASX's existing equity options clearing technology platforms.

Under the deal, ASX said the technology will be developed on Nasdaq's Genium INET clearing platform, which is already being used by the organisation for futures clearing.

The revamps are part of the ASX's technology transformation program, in which the organisation is currently two years along into completing.

As part of the overhaul, the ASX is also currently looking into accelerating the development of blockchain technology by the second half of 2016 financial year, something in which Thurman believes will help provide a competitive edge for the organisation.

"Blockchain is still in early stages for us...but we do believe at some point there will be an opportunity for us to utilise that technology in a very secure way," he said.

The ASX has contracted US-based firm Digital Asset to develop the blockchain technology, the underlying system that facilitates transactions such as bitcoin trading, to replace or upgrade its main trading and post-trade platforms.

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