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Technology / AI and automation


A new London-based software house, Ceres Trading Systems Ltd has just been launched on the strength of a software package its founders had developed. The company has four full time directors who have backgrounds in financial management, and who decided that there was a need for integrated application systems in financial institutions. The Swedish Skandinaviska Enskilda Bank group and the Banque de Bruxelles Lambert became interested in the project and, between them put up UKP3m of orders in advance, giving Ceres the capital to research and develop the Ceres Toolkit. Bearing these backers in mind, the toolkit was designed by a staff of 40, using 32-bit technology, to run on VAX/VMS or Sun SunOs systems. The toolkit enables financial institutions to develop their own trading system applications, either by using Ceres technical knowledge, or by using their own in-house engineers. The package consists of the Ceres Kernel, a set of facilities to provide a distributed network system using Ethernet, incorporating dealer workstations linked to servers performing central data management and processing tasks, and offers tools, such as the information, decision, and transaction managers. Because the system integrates applications, it enables users to tackle risk management, rather than simply providing them with information delivery. For example, an end user could design a global composite page using factors in which he is interested using data drawn from services like Reuters and Telerate. The Ceres system is written in C and uses SQL for accessing and updating the Sybase relational database on which it is presently implemented. The toolkit is library-based, and clients are given access to all Ceres libraries, as well as the training and tools necessary to develop realtime programmes. Ceres will offer a maintenance contract for its Kernel but not for customised applications. At present the smallest project for which the company is prepared to bid would have to be worth UKP500,000, and it says it will be bidding for seven or eight contracts in 1989. Its first two customers were given the source code as security against their investment, but Ceres is hoping future clients will not demand the precious source.

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