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Integrating Disparate Databases

Prebon Yamane manages data globally with a little help from BEA and Sonic Software.

Rather than a single entity, Prebon Yamane is more accurately an associated group of 25 globally dispersed offices that provide brokerage services for other financial and commercial institutions. From that vantage point, it's not hard to appreciate why the company needed to standardize and rationalize the data flowing from dozens of disparate front-end systems into its databases for back-office processing and reporting.

"We had a variety of front-end systems that we needed to integrate," says Jim Hilton, global head of product management at Prebon. "The variety of those front-end systems covered a really huge span - from sophisticated trading systems to Excel spreadsheets to written tickets. The integration work we are doing is to get all of that into a single format," he explains.

To facilitate a fundamental change in the way Prebon captured and processed its data, the company embarked on its Global Brokering System (GBS) project. Executives at Prebon understood that the company needed to deliver a variety of outputs to its clients all over the world; with GBS, Prebon was trying to standardize the inputs that came from its diverse front-end systems.

Prebon had employed a number of back-office systems running IBM Informix (a fourth-generation language) on Sun servers. Those servers were located in offices around the globe - Europe, Asia and America. "We were looking to rationalize all of that technology into a single global platform using an updated and modern technology," says Patrick McGrath, head of technology strategy at Prebon Yamane.

The company has chosen to use a combination of Oracle databases and BEA Systems' (San Jose, Calif.) WebLogic application server to run its systems. To send integrated data, Prebon selected Sonic Software's (Bedford, Mass.) SonicMQ as the messaging or transport layer.

"When a deal is entered, that information is communicated back to the central system using SonicMQ," McGrath says. Currently, the firm's technology infrastructure is arranged in a hub-and-spoke model. Sonic is installed in New York, which is the hub for America; Singapore, which is the hub for Asia; and London, which is the hub for Europe.

This setup allows Prebon to manage and integrate data on a global basis, reports McGrath. The company now maintains a central repository of data and uses Sonic to move information to where it is needed. In the future, McGrath says, Prebon will move from SonicMQ to the vendor's enterprise service bus (ESB).

"We are looking at that as a method to allow us to take the integration of the data and move it from integration to transformation and make it available for STP [straight-through processing] to our external customers," for the paper-free communication of confirmations and notifications, says McGrath.

What this all means to Prebon, he says, is the ability to get away from managing databases locally, allowing the firm to realize the efficiencies of global data management. The firm can then manage data once, says McGrath, reducing errors. Additionally, it allows for automatic front-end deal capture, again, reducing errors and eliminating keying discrepancies.

"The Sonic product also helps us in the movement of data from the mid to back office," says McGrath. "So, once a trade has been entered, Sonic will move the message from the mid to back office and then transform the data, making it ready for delivery to our customers."

Though he declines to discuss specific costs, McGrath says, "Think of the cost of processing locally versus processing at a regional level. You can work it out pretty quickly that it's better to do it once regionally rather than doing it in every single office in terms of management of data and delivery."

McGrath notes that while it costs money and takes time to properly vet a potential vendor, especially in the data-transport space, spending a little extra is far better than making a bad choice. "It's worthwhile investing time up front to make sure of what you're purchasing," he says, "because, as with everything in software, messaging is something that gets blurred at the edges, and you need to be very clear about what you are purchasing and why you are purchasing it."

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