Can you measure and validate flexibility?

By Chris Anderson, Senior Product Manager
September 3, 2015

Conventional wisdom holds that if you want a truly flexible and open trading platform you should build your own. If time to market and cost are your top priorities, buy from a vendor. Today, however, some vendors claim to offer the flexibility of an in-house system combined with the convenience of one off-the-shelf. Is there a way to scrutinize the truth in this argument?

If you’re considering investing in a vendor platform and openness is a top priority, it is important to identify and evaluate the truly “open” platforms up front. Otherwise, you risk getting halfway through an implementation process only to discover that the functionality you wanted to customize is locked. But are there ways to measure and validate a vendor’s claim to openness?

One generic measure is lines of code (LOC), comparing how much of the system code is locked down vs. open and changeable. For example, Tbricks by Itiviti’s clean separation of system core and apps makes it easy to count the LOC and compare the two – by this measure, more than one quarter of the system is implemented as open and changeable code (apps). But what does this actually tell us? Is 25% a ‘good’ number?

Tbricks by Itiviti is actually designed to allow extension with as few lines of code as possible, sometimes with no code at all. The API is architected to remove ‘typical’ overheads from the development process, such as concurrency, memory management and excessive boilerplate code. There is also a massive amount of built-in functionality specifically for writing trading applications.

So, LOC is not the whole truth – how else can one evaluate a vendor’s claim to flexibility? Future articles will discuss this and other ways to determine system suitability (in-house or off-the-shelf) in depth.

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