In the wake of October’s Big Bang, City of London-based Stratus Computer Ltd, the UK subsidiary of Marlboro, Massachusetts-based Status Computer Inc, has been elaborating on its presence in the dealer rooms around the Square Mile. On the day itself Stratus claimed to have 25 of its front office, fault-tolerant 32-bit systems which run its own virtual operating system and Unix System V side by side, up and running, with its nearest rival, Tandem Computer, installed at three sites. An alliance with Thorn EMI’s Software Sciences unit resulted in several market makers, including Barclays de Zoete Wedd, using the COLT Continuous On-Line Trading system for off-floor trading support; the Logica-developed Fast Trade for equity trading, and Max, which brings together the Stock Market’s Topic information service and the London Financial Futures’ equivalent. Stratus says that between 15% and 30% of its worldwide turnover comes from its OEM agreement with IBM, which sells the Stratus machines as System 88, and says that the deregulation of the London financial exchanges generated UKP10m of business, with about 6% of the hardware value in service and maintenance contracts. Managing director David Taylor says that the front office market for fault-tolerant systems, where the dealing is done, has not been saturated and also expects huge demand in the back office arena where the settlement of transactions takes place. The next stop could be Canada, where a little bang is planned for financial markets.
Taylor says that Stratus’ UK business is equally split between brokerage and communications contracts, highlighting IBM’s recent UKP40m System 88 Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale pilot scheme running on Stratus kit. Outside the City of London, Stratus has machines installed to support Automatic Teller Machines at the Abbey National and National Provincial Building Societies, using its Base 24 system. Taylor says that although he thinks the availability of a fully functioned Unix operating system played no part in the market makers’ decision to take Stratus kit, Unix will become more important as the applications software begins to flow through Unix. Taylor sees the financial institutions increasingly adopting networking solutions in a wide area and a local area environment, suggesting that network compatibility will make up a substantial part of Stratus’ second generation of fault-tolerant machines. Suggesting that neither DEC nor IBM yet has a serious rival to the Stratus/32 system, Taylor is quite happy to see IBM competing with a Stratus-based offering; it’s a win or win situation – when we lose a pitch to IBM we still win.