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Volume 20, No.1

Kx Systems Celebrates 10 Years and Introduces 64-bit Kdb+ at SIA Conference

by Steph Johnson

The single largest annual event for IT executives in the securities industry, the SIA Technology Management Conference & Exhibit takes place in New York City each June and draws an international audience. Kx is traditionally a sponsor of and exhibitor at the event. This year the conference coincided with the announcement of the company’s new 64-bit kdb+ database, which Kx demonstrated on two networked Itanium 2 servers running Linux on the show floor.

Kdb+ has been in beta test at several leading firms including Lehman Brothers. The new database is more than simply a version of kdb for 64-bit architectures, although the need for trading, risk management and other real-time business applications to capture and analyze more transactions and events in memory was the impetus behind its development.

Arthur Whitney, developer of A+, K and all Kx Systems software, designed kdb+ to handle more data types than kdb and to provide data types that map to Java and .net. In addition, kdb+ is several orders of magnitude faster than kdb on operations such as inserts and updates, and it offers greatly reduced latency to speed up transaction processing. Kdb+ also merges the K language with ksql to provide a single language for programming and analytics.

Kdb+ is not a replacement for kdb, which continues to receive growing acceptance in financial and other industries. Kx will continue to develop and sell both platforms. According to Whitney, “After 10 years of experience with customers using K and kdb, we learned a lot, and it was time to incorporate that learning into a next-generation product.”

Initially, kdb+ is expected to appeal to firms whose intraday data requirements exceed the capacity of 32-bit architectures. “Many of our customers want to deal with 50 million or more transactions per day.” says Whitney. “64-bit makes this easy.”

Kx customers are seeing trade data volumes that nearly double each year, and Whitney expects that the financial industry will be one of the first movers to 64-bit technology.

10-year celebration

Founded in 1993, Kx celebrated its first 10 years with a party at mid-town Manhattan’s stylish restaurant Noche (“night” in Spanish). The restaurant’s Latin theme was complemented by the live music of a 4-piece Brazilian band, and nearly 150 customers, partners, prospects and friends of Kx attended.

Toward the end of the evening, the party took a surprise twist, as employees of Kx and its strategic partner First Derivatives presented Whitney and CEO Janet Lustgarten with a commemorative Steuben glass sculpture. The plaque read:

Kx Systems – 10 years of success – 2003. Several long-time customers and friends, including Joel Kaplan, who first hired Whitney at Morgan Stanley, were on hand to express their congratulations.

Presentation of plaque to Aarthur Whitney
Michael O’Neill of First Derivatives (centre) acknowledges Arthur Whitney
and Janet Lustgarten at a Kx Systems party in New York in June.

For Whitney, the party and SIA show helped him officially mark the completion of kdb+, which has been in development for several years. “Usually I am too busy programming or thinking about how to program something to pay much attention to product announcements. But this time, being surrounded by so many people who were celebrating the announcement and the company, I had to stop and appreciate what Kx has become over the years.”

July 8, 2003


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