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Interactive Data Bases Managed Data Service on SAP Sybase RAP

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Interactive Data has deployed SAP’s Sybase Real-time Analytics Platform (RAP) as the basis of a managed data service that combines securities, pricing and corporate actions data, and delivers data on demand to Microsoft Excel and other front and middle office proprietary and packaged applications.

Marc Alvarez, senior director of reference data at Interactive Data, explains: “Since Interactive Data was acquired by two private equity firms two years ago, we have been looking at where the future lies and working on a two-track strategy of developing data collection and management, and exploring product delivery. Our Apex platform loads different types of data and makes it available through standard interfaces, but there is also a growing need to bring together reference, pricing and corporate actions data. These types of data don’t work well together and can’t be supported by relational technology. This is why we are working with SAP Sybase RAP, an event stream processing platform that stores data in a columnar database and provides the flexibility to blend all three types of data. It also supports the need to deliver data to tools that customers already have.”

Interactive Data chose SAP’s RAP as the platform for its managed data service after a demanding selection process and on the basis of its ability to meet Interactive Data’s requirements for standard interfaces; integrity across reference, pricing and corporate actions data; scalability to meet customer requirements; and command and control that could be administered by existing network and data management staff. The company was also looking for a blue-chip partner with reference sites, rather than a start up.

Sinan Baskan, vice president of capital markets at SAP, says the company has licensed Sybase RAP to over 60 customers since it was introduced in 2008 and that about a dozen customers are in production. With the capability to capture and consolidate live data and run analytics in-memory or on disk, the platform has been configured for different uses including market and credit risk management and regulatory reporting.

Interactive Data has deployed the SAP software in its 7ticks subsidiary, a provider of managed ultra-low latency trading infrastructure services, and is using a single data model and data dictionary to integrate data in the software’s database. Data is updated on a daily and intraday basis, with customers subscribing to as much or as little as they want. Initial use of the managed data service is expected to focus on business analytics, but Interactive Data does not rule out data automation requirements and has included a programmatic interface to the database.

Alvarez says the service is close to production with two clients already signed up, and adds: “Most exciting are the discussions we are having with firms and functions we have not had relationships with before. Interactive Data already has a strong footprint in the back office. The managed data service extends our reach as it adds value for the front and middle office, supporting a more quantitative and real-time approach to strategy development and risk management.”

Noting the emergence of new market entrants, such as hedge funds and trading shops, that do not want to invest in data management infrastructure, and the growing need for data, sometimes Big Data, across all firms, Alvarez says: “Economics and the requirement for data are pushing firms towards managed solutions. They will become the primary model for supporting analytics across firms. They will also reduce capital expenditure and total cost of ownership, giving customers reduced risk around investment and faster time to market.”

As Interactive Data sets off down the managed data management route in collaboration with SAP, it is considering other developments around the real-time analytics platform, including the possibility of integrating and hosting customer data alongside its own data. And while the company already delivers data to the cloud, but has not yet pushed its services into the cloud, it is also talking to SAP subsidiary SuccessFactors about cloud infrastructure that would allow firms to buy data without investing in people.

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