Opening Cross: On Valentine’s Day, Was Your Head (or Heart) in the Cloud?

Max Bowie, editor, Inside Market Data

And so another Valentine’s Day comes and goes. A time for hooking up, making up, and in some cases—with the mega-deals of recent years (think countries marrying their royal families to one another to ensure peace in medieval times) apparently becoming harder to pull off—breaking up. Thus, collaborations and partnerships are becoming more important, and at the center of this is the epitome of collaboration—“the cloud.”

Not so long ago, NYSE Euronext was all the way to “… speak now or forever hold their peace,” in its proposed union with Deutsche Börse, when European regulators did speak up and left the bride (or groom) standing at the altar. Undeterred, the exchange’s NYSE Technologies division wasted no time in getting hitched to a stake in low-latency data, trading infrastructure and risk technologies vendor Fixnetix.

Not exactly a rebound—after all, the two had been courting since last year, when the UK-based vendor realized it would need to enlist a buyer or partner if it wanted to accelerate its (already fast) rate of growth—the deal will unite each other’s families of proprietary and third-party services available via their infrastructures, to provide clients with access to a much broader array of tools and destinations. It’s also more of an open marriage, since Fixnetix continues business as usual, and since NYSE doesn’t rule out similar deals with other players that could allow it to sow its oats even wider in the future.

Fixnetix chief executive Hugh Hughes says the vendor talked to more than 20 potential partners, but NYSE Technologies was the only company that shared its vision. “Expanding into new regions like the Middle East is a big commitment,” Hughes says. “But in a couple of weeks’ time, we’ll be able to offer our clients access to Asia, Canada, South America and the Middle East, as well as do more in North America. It’s all the things we would have done anyway, but we can now do them much quicker as a result of this.”

The same sentiment of expanded connectivity to liquidity venues and broader access to third-party services is also evident in an arranged marriage between network and hosted connectivity platform provider CFN and Tier 3, which specializes in enterprise cloud deployments for some of the world’s largest technology companies.

Tier 3 CEO Adam Wray says the partnership was “brokered” by existing partner Equinix to help Tier 3 take advantage of growing demand for cloud services among financial services clients. “They recognized that the tipping point for financial services had arrived, and the industry needed someone who can drive down costs yet offer complete control and transparency,” Wray says.

Not that the cloud is exclusively driving partnerships—after all, this week’s deal between OTC energy and commodities broker OTC Global Holdings’ EOX data arm and technical analysis provider Updata is designed to provide EOX clients with analytics to run on the broker’s data, while giving qualified Updata clients a valuable source of data. Metrixx linking to data from Trading Technologies’ trading platform, and Interactive Data incorporating ESG data from RepRisk also serve similar purposes: providing interesting and useful content more efficiently to consumers.

However, when talking efficiency, cloud has some compelling arguments. And with cloud set to become a part of everyone’s toolkit for its cost, connectivity, coverage and provisioning advantages, Wray says data professionals not already committed to this space should start cloud-gazing now and “look at what application sets they are comfortable handing off… and start prioritizing—stick their toes into the cloud waters,” lest management—wanting to reap the benefits—tries to move too far, too fast, instead of letting things blossom naturally. Because that’s a sure way to end Valentine’s Day badly.

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