Archipelago CTO talks about IM, NYSE merger

Archipelago CTO talks about IM, NYSE merger

As Archipelago Holdings Inc.'s merger with the New York Stock Exchange nears, officials from the two companies are discussing technology plans for the combined entity. In an interview with Computerworld last week, Archipelago Chief Technology Officer Steve Rubinow talked about the upcoming merger and about how he controls his firm's liberal use of instant messaging.

What is the state of the planned merger with the NYSE? It's going fine. There are a lot of planning activities. We're talking about how we're going to merge technology, who's going to do what, what are the synergies, and how do we identify them so we can take advantage of them as quickly as possible. Until the companies are merged, we can't start executing. We have a whole list of things to do.

What do you see as the most difficult part of the merger? The most difficult part is going to be the people part. It's the classic small, entrepreneurial company -- that's us -- vs. the long-standing nonentrepreneurial company -- them. They've got many more times [the] people than we do. A lot of people [will] have to change.

What is your policy on employees' use of instant messaging? It's similar to our Web philosophy. I've worked at other companies where they issue a Web policy where they say there are certain Web sites you can't go to, so don't even try it. But here we take the approach that everybody here knows what corporate equipment is supposed to be used for. Of course, business to any site is logged, and if we see people [abusing the system], they will be at the top of somebody's list to explain the corporate use policy.

What led you to support IM, which isn't a favorite technology of your peers in some other companies? Many companies still simply say no to IM. We have this philosophy that everyone here is a mature adult, and within reason, they know what kinds of tools they'd like [to use] to do their jobs. We'd like to offer those tools to make their jobs as convenient as possible, and just make sure they work within the [regulatory] constraints.

How important is IM at Archipelago? I can't say it's extremely important. However, it is a mode of communication that our people use with people outside the company. So even if they use it once a month, we have to track every single byte that goes across our wires, and it has to be archived. If we turned it off completely and said no one can ever use it, I don't think it would put a substantial dent in our business.

What is Archipelago's corporate IM policy? It falls under the heading of our e-mail policy. Any corporate communication, whether between two people inside or outside, has to be archived or stored for regulatory reasons. So we just made it a subset of our e-mail policy, so if [you] use this, everything is being trapped and stored. That's just the rules of the game.

Who uses IM the most at Archipelago? The people who sit on our trade desks, because there's so much going on. There are so many positions and streams of data. When they have to chat with somebody, that's the easiest way to construct a chat. So they're the heaviest users. If you went around the rest of the company, I don't think you'd see a lot of IM users.

How long have you been archiving instant messages? We've been doing e-mail archiving for years, but IM archiving for six months [using software from IMlogic].

Is there a corporate IM standard at the company? You can use any IM tool you want, as long as it complies with our ability to archive it. For instance, I don't think Google Talk works with IMlogic, so Google Talk is not an approved piece of software here for IM.

Do you track which IM applications people download? Yes. I think we know what's sitting on people's desktops.

Are you using EMC storage as the back end for IM archiving? Yes, Centera.

Do you expect your IM policy to transfer to the combined firm? We've made no decisions on a lot of our mutual software -- where they do something one way and we do something another way.

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