Rabobank of the Netherlands is upgrading the data management infrastructure used to support the risk operations of its Rabobank International unit, Netherlands. The big Dutch bank – long a user of U.K. data management system supplier Xenomorph’s Data Analysis & Integration System (XDAIS) – is implementing the vendor’s new TimeScape platform, which offers substantial functional improvements over its predecessor.
Officials at Rabobank weren’t available for comment on the new deal, which was announced earlier this month. Brian Sentance, managing director of Xenomorph, declines to give specific details of the implementation, but says the shift to the TimeScape platform represents a “natural progression for Rabobank and a strategic step forward for Xenomorph.” The TimeScape platform will replace the XDAIS system Rabobank has been using for some time. That system was used by the central risk management and modeling (CRMM) department of Rabobank International to handle integration and collection of historical data sourced from Reuters and Bloomberg, as well as for data validation analysis. Instruments of interest to Rabobank International staff are foreign exchange, equities, bonds, options and commodities – including volatilities and futures – within the American, European and Asian markets. Rabobank International’s CRMM used the data for its proprietary value at risk (VaR) model, for risk management and risk reporting via a connection to Algorithmics’ risk management software. The group is responsible for monitoring Rabobank International’s risk exposures, performing stress tests and scenario analysis for portfolios on both an individual and consolidated basis. In essence, it appears that the Rabobank project has led the development of the TimeScape product suite, which has now been launched for general market sales. Procure accreditation One important aspect of the TimeScape development project, according to Sentance, was Xenomorph’s decision to procure accreditation for Microsoft’s .Net architecture, and Microsoft’s concomitant support for the development. TimeScape – as with other Xenomorph products – runs on Windows 2000 on the server side. With broader acceptance of Windows as a server architecture, and a big push for .Net within the financial services area, Xenomorph considers the relationship with Microsoft a strategic advantage. The new TimeScape platform features a considerable number of improvements over the XDAIS system. These include an enhanced front-end display – with a Microsoft Outlook feel to it – for visualization and sharing of analytics. The idea, according to Sentance, is to make deployment of the system easier – even less daunting – for the platform’s ultimate nontechnical end-users. TimeScape also adds a query language – TimeScape QL Plus – an SQL-like inquiry capability that is designed, again, to be used by both technical and nontechnical users like traders and portfolio managers. One key aspect of this query language is its ability to operate in the context of user-defined and potentially complex data rules for handling missing data, something that is vital for successful and productive use of financial data. TimeScape features a centralized analytics engine that ensures that all custom analytical functionality developed by end-users of the system is stored in a single, scalable, central repository. This repository enjoys the benefits of the TimeScape data-cleansing component, ensuring that all applications are driven by the same normalized data sets. TimeScape platform enhanced The TimeScape platform’s data-handling capabilities have also been enhanced. First, it is capable of handling higher-volume tick data than its predecessor. It has been modified to handle cache management and work-flow processes. Finally, the range of data sources it can handle is being extended beyond Reuters and Bloomberg to include – among others – suppliers of credit data, including specialist brokers and ratings agencies. Consumption of credit data is being driven by the Basel II initiative and the expanding credit derivatives market, which are boosting interest in operations across all asset types. To cope with this, Xenomorph has enhanced TimeScape’s ability to handle derivatives, within the credit, equities, fixed-income and other specialist fields, such as inflation derivatives. Sentance says market interest has been characterized by a sharp upturn in the past six months, and expects to make further client relationship announcements soon.