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Q&A: Sumerian’s Bryan Clark on Big Data Analytics and Operational IT

For Sumerian, the focus is not so much on capturing and storing big data, but much more on analysing it to provide insight into how IT systems – especially for electronic trading – are working, how they might perform under load and how to tune them to make them both high performance and efficient.

We spoke to Sumerian’s CEO Bryan Clark to find out more about the services it offers, and how financial markets firms are making use of them.

Q: Sumerian seems to have changed its focus/messaging a bit, from IT infrastructure performance to analytics and big data.  What is driving that, and what’s the relationship between these focuses?

A: Sumerian has a strong heritage as an analytics company, and we’ve been performing big data analytics for 10 y ears now.  Our domain focus for applying this analytics capability remains operational IT –  transforming those vast amounts of IT system data into business-focused IT intelligence that companies can then use to optimise complex, operational IT environments.  A great example of this is our work on reducing latency and optimising trading platforms for our capital markets clients.

Q: So what is Sumerian now offering to customers?

A: Sumerian continues to offer a range of analytics services on a hosted subscription service basis. Typical analytics we conduct for our capital markets clients are focused on improving end-to-end latency,  right-sizing capacity and optimising batch and grid performance.  The big shift in operational IT in general is a move to the cloud, so we are also working with several clients to provide analytics to support them on their migration journey and then with the ongoing management of their hybrid cloud/legacy environments.

The types of analytics we typically do here are initially to support migration planning and de-risk migration activities – using predictive modeling to help identify which applications to move, right-size current and future capacity requirements and accurately scenario model different cost and technology options to support business case development.

Our ability to capture data from any source means we can analyse the whole estate – from legacy systems to virtualised estates, to all flavors of cloud implementation – private, community and public.  This means we can give our clients holistic and accurate insight to help them manage this very complex, dynamic environment on an ongoing basis – helping to profile changing demand patterns, continually align capacity, assure performance through to providing cost transparency – auditing supplier bills and supporting usage-based showback/chargeback of IT services to the business.

Q: And how is that helping companies derive ‘true value’ from their data?

A: By harvesting all the IT data and joining the dots between that and business data Sumerian can provide unique insight that helps companies genuinely align their IT resources efficiently to meet their current business needs and future ambitions.  Our advanced analytics solutions have been applied to help address a number of complex IT and business challenges – from helping firms to optimise their IT performance, de-risk and understand the impact of change and reduce costs.

Q: More specifically, where is your service being used – or might it be used – in the financial markets?

A: We work with a number of financial services clients on both the buy- and sell-side, and our analytics service can be used in a number of capacities, from reducing latency to optimising the IT environment to accommodate higher trade volumes.  In one engagement with a top-tier global investment bank, we were brought in by the FX business to help them scale to meet aggressive growth targets.  In the end, we reduced their quote latency by over 75%.

Q: What might we expect from Sumerian – in terms of directions, products, company development – for the rest of 2012?

A: We expect to continue to focus on our strengths in the analytics space and our strong track record of growth, as well as to continue to expand our presence in both the EU and North America.  We will continue to deliver compelling analytics solutions for IT operations, offering new levels of insight to inform this new IT operations era, heralded by the convergence of changing user expectations and new technologies like virtualisation, cloud, mobile access and social networking style interfaces.  We have several exciting new clients on the horizon, as well as new partnerships that will allow us to deliver even greater value to our customers.

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