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Open Source - what can Reuters do ?

The EU are pushing Reuters on opening access to their RIC codes, with open access one option, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. It raises a much bigger question though; will Reuters try to use open source as a way to shore up its diminishing trading room status?

There are thee interesting precedents to consider – the rival, the game changer & the incumbant:

1. Bloomberg: Reuters arch rival and keen devourer of trading room IT budget. Bloomberg has two major open source initiatives, the very significant open symbology which makes the entire Bloomberg symbology available for use by all. Bloomberg has also open sourced its V3 API, but without any actual source being opened, it is not clear how much use this will be, since 3rd parties can not add support for other data platforms. (There is one exception where it is useful; open source projects, such as OpenGama can now release open source Bloomberg drivers ).

2. Nyse and OpenMama: A game changer. Nyse has open sourced its API and the source implementation required for loading the platform specific drivers. The availability of a standard API, that allows 3rd parties to load their own drivers and that can be used on multiple platforms is a game changer. We think OpenMama can appeal to a large number of smaller data providers and product companies who can commit to an API with reasonable take up in banks and hedge funds. 

3. Fix: The incumbent for open source protocols, but I don’t think there is much of interest here for Reuters. There are so many things wrong with FIX as a Market Data API, yet its success shows how useful any widely adopted open source standards are to our industry.  

Will Reuters accept the challenges and opportunities that Open Source presents in our industries? Will it open source RIC codes like Bloomberg has? Will it open source RFA or even the old SSL API, (SFC would just be embarassing) and unleash a range of 3rd party development (RFA access to Bloomberg desktop data)?

I am sad to say that the answer is almost certainly no. Reuters has become more bureaucratic after its purchase by Thomson, and let’s face it, it hasn’t been a nimble operation since the early 90s. 


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