Linux makes news with Reuters

The Linux operating system is not only making news but serving it up as well.

Reuters Group PLC Thursday announced that it has teamed with Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Red Hat Inc. to port its system for aggregating market news and data, called Reuters Market Data System (RMDS), to Intel-based servers running Linux.

Companies in the financial sector, including one customer that was part of Thursday’s announcement, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., use Reuters’ system to get access to financial news, statistics and market data.

In a combined development effort, the system is being retooled to run on Red Hat’s distribution of Linux and HP’s ProLiant servers running on Intel’s Xeon and Itanium processors, the companies said.

Currently, RMDS is most widely used on hardware from Sun Microsystems Inc. running the Solaris operating system, Mike Sayers, chief technology officer for London-based Reuters, said in an interview. However, versions of the application are available for Unix operating systems including HP-UX and IBM Corp.’s AIX. RMDS previously had been released to run on the Windows NT operating system but is no longer available for it, Sayers said.

“We’ve always had an open platform approach,” he said. “(But) Solaris has always had a stronghold in the financial services industry.”

RMDS can be used as a client/server application to distribute data to a workstation. It is also designed to run on a server delivering information to a third party application, such as a Web portal that displays the information for end users. Customers can host the system inside their own firewalls or on Reuters’ servers, the company said.

HP noted that bringing RMDS to the Linux platform will go hand in hand with its push to introduce the open source operating system into the financial services sector.

HP estimated sales of hardware and services through the alliance could exceed $200 million over the next three to five years, according to a statement Thursday from HP, Intel, Red Hat and Reuters.

Similar Linux-related announcements in the financial services industry also have come out of IBM, which signed E-Trade Group Inc. as a Linux customer in February at the LinuxWorld conference in New York. That same month, investment banking company Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. announced an investment in Linux servers through a start-up vendor called Egenera Inc.

The four companies leading the announcement Thursday expect to have the Reuters system ready for testing some time in the third quarter, according to the joint statement.

“Moving to Linux in software terms isn’t that difficult. The hard part is testing it to work with other applications,” Sayers said. “Most of our work will be in the test environment, which is where HP, Intel and Red Hat will help out.”

Once the system is available for use by Reuters’ customers, HP and the news organization will jointly offer support services. Services will encompass migrating the application to Linux servers as well as delivering ongoing support, the companies said.