Red Hat banks on customer focus for FSI success

Moving IT platforms to open source a make or break decision for financial services' C-level executives, so meeting their pressing needs critical to company's success, says Red Hat exec.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

There is much at stake when C-level executives within the financial services industry (FSI) consider migrating to open source software (OSS), which is why Red Hat has been focusing its efforts to being sensitive to and meeting their needs in order to effect a paradigm shift in thought process and practical deployments.

Richard Feldmann, global director of financial services at Red Hat, pointed out that for many CIOs and CEOs in the financial services sector, the change of IT platforms from proprietary to open source is a "career move" in that such a decision could be make or break for them. This, to him, is the primary factor for lingering reservations over OSS adoption in the industry both globally and within Asia-Pacific. The executive was in town to attend the BankTech Executive Summit held here on Wednesday.

That said, he noted that because Red Hat's origins could be traced back to Wall Street in the United States, it was well positioned to help top-level executives get over their reservations by meeting their needs using open source technologies.

One example of this is the company's enterprise MRG (messaging, real-time and grid) offering, which was derived from the AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) open source application-level protocol that Red Hat was heavily involved in during its inception phase.

Feldmann said that banks previously could not provision their backend systems to "talk" to frontend systems using proprietary software, or for the systems to communicate with their banking partners' systems. Seizing the opportunity, Red Hat was the first to make use of the AMQP specification to create a commercial product to help companies overcome these challenges, he noted.

"We have been very thoughtful of the industry's needs, and sensitive to companies' requirements," the executive pointed out.

Asia growing in importance
Asked how open source adoption was among financial services institutions in Asia-Pacific, Feldmann said he was seeing "significant growth" both globally and within the region. As such, the company was "deeply committed" to this region although he declined to go into specifics.

He did cite a Japanese customer, Daiwa Securities Group, who mentioned how open source awareness was growing within the industry. Quoting Koichi Suzuki, senior executive managing director at Daiwa Institute of Research, he said: "When Daiwa Securities Group's system renovation started in 2002, we realized that open source software is necessary for IT standardization to reduce cost, depart from vendor lock-in, and achieve reliable and stable operations."

Feldmann also noted that regional banks and insurance institutions were looking at "flat to down" IT spending in 2012 due to economic uncertainties, according to feedback given by executives who attended the BankTech Executive Summit in Hong Kong on Feb. 9.

However, he thought that the global economy was "bouncing along the bottom" and the market had bottomed out. As such, he was optimistic that the industry, particularly in this part of the world, would pick up in the near future.

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