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Aiming for SEC's big data project, Sungard and Google bet on the cloud

Joab Jackson | June 16, 2015
To bid for a massive U.S. government contract, Sungard has teamed up with Google to build a prototype cloud system that could store six years' worth of U.S. stock and financial trading data and let regulators and stock traders scrutinize this mountain of information.

The prototype uses Google Cloud Storage to hold the data, and Google BigTable to structure the information. A Google Dataflow service can validate the data. Google's Big Query can be used to publish the data and provide a way for users to analyze it, either directly or through third-part software such as Microsoft Excel or various business intelligence (BI) packages.

In the first round of tests, the prototype was able to process 10 billion events an hour, or about three gigabytes of data process a second.

Best of all, the prototype was built in six weeks.

"There is no way we could have done that, even with similar technologies, if we had to stand up our own infrastructure," Palmer said.

The team still has work to do, Palmer said. The system must be able to ingest data at four times the speed of the current prototype.

If Sungard wins the contract, or if another team with a cloud-based approach wins, it will represent a significant step towards the acceptance of the cloud computing model in the U.S. financial industry, which to date has been reluctant to embrace the approach.

Sungard's testimony was thematically in tune with the overall theme of the keynote, which was how cloud computing can give companies resources to forge into new markets that they otherwise wouldn't have had access to.

Carl Schachter, Google vice president of the cloud platform, said that companies like Uber and AirBnB have used cloud computing to disrupt traditional markets. "Markets that have been previously thought established are now re-inventable," he said.

The other finalists for the CAT contract are Epam systems; Thesys; the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA); a team comprised of AxiomSL and Computer Sciences Corporation; and a consortium of companies including Hewlett Packard and Booz Allen.

The SEC has not offered a date when it expects to award the contract.


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