Day 1

JAX Finance Roundup: “Out-innovating the finance disruptors”

Natali Vlatko
Henk Kolk from ING speaking at the JAX Finance

Couldn’t make it to JAX Finance? Get a dose of what you’re missing out on with this healthy roundup of sessions, topics and ideas.

The first day of JAX Finance has concluded and Day 1 was jam-packed with innovative and inspirational talks that united developers and representatives from the finance IT world.

Starting with the big guns, Chief Architect at ING Henk Kolk was our opening keynote speaker and explained how ING have been putting IT at the heart of their operations and redefining their business model and platform via their Continuous Delivery Pipeline.

Describing an extremely exciting development for the finance IT industry, Kolk underlined the fact that financial services used to think they were “kind of safe”. And yet thousands of startups are now challenging the financial service industry’s means of existence. The way to combat such a charge became clear for ING from 2009:

There is no alternative than to make sure we ‘out-innovate’ the disruptors… IT is the bank and the bank is IT.

For Kolk and the new IT management team that was brought in, this meant becoming future-proof, remaining fast and being agile. The belief system in the company is also an important factor – if IT is just the enabler, rather than driving it, or if it’s just a cost centre, rather than creating value for your customers, then the message was that companies need to overcome these pervasive legacy beliefs in order to move forward.

SEE ALSO: Investment up for FinTech, but where’s the innovation in banking?

The emphasis on in-house talent was also a big talking point, with Kolk saying that “if we want the talent that drives our competitive advantage, then nothing beats in-house”. By having and nurturing good talent, and adopting the principles of Continuous Delivery, ING inevitably saw an increase in the reliability of their software engineering.

Getting technical and fast

After a very popular opening keynote, attendees were treated to talks by Peter Lawrey and Maurice Naftalin, who covered determinism in finance and Java 8 stream performance respectively. Lots of questions followed both sessions with speakers barely able to grab a coffee before the next parts of the program.

Markus Voelter flew in to speak about Language Workbenches and how they provide support for advanced functioning. The veteran software architect was quick to point out that “if you just come up with a language without an IDE, nobody will care”. Language workbenches make languages easier, according to Voelter, and they blur the distinction between programming and modelling.

He also sung the praises of Projectional Editing, citing the ability to allow use of all different kinds of notations, as well as allowing you to combine everything, with the syntactical ability to always compose.

SEE ALSO: Banks “pay 33% to 50% more” in developer salaries

At the same time, Dr Jim Webber was on hand to talk about graphs in finance, using live examples of use-cases with Neo4j’s Cypher query language to showcase how rapidly graph queries can be built and how performant they are.

“Java bloats your data”

Our second keynote of the day came from John Davies, CTO of C24 and binary fan No. 1. With Java being so verbose, and its design used to specifically abstract hardware, Davies believes that classic Java means that we’re not supposed to worry about implementation; we’re not supposed to worry what’s going on under the hood.

This leads to the following in the financial IT space:

In financial services, banks have been persuaded to use Big Data without actually thinking about it. Overdoing it without really thinking about the problem.

After a fun round of demos, Davies’ main point to put across was that using binary Java instead of Java Objects shrinks your data and uses ordinary Java to process it. With binary, we still have full query ability and can still build indices on top.

“Plain old Java” was definitely a theme during Sam Adams’ talk, who outlined the LMAX Exchange Architecture using just that. Adams was able to demonstrate how LMAX have built a high throughput, low latency, scalable, resilient and reliable system in plain ol’ Java, where “speed and reliable speed is absolutely critical to the business”.

SEE ALSO: “If it’s new, then it must be risky” – innovation in banking

Container orchestration with Docker was the hot topic in Peter Rossbach’s parallel session, who’s aim was to convince us of the practical benefits in the latest Docker projects like “machine”, “swarm”, “network”, and “compose”. Comparisons to CoreOS and Kubernetes were also covered.

Lots to take in there, time for another coffee.

Final sessions and ideas

After the break, Ben Stopford covered elements of scale, with attendees gaining a sense of the applicability of different technologies, as well as how they can be sewn together. Alexander Von Zitzewitz brought the spotlight onto agile teams, looking at the technical and social causes of the lack of improved technical quality and encouragement of software craftsmanship.

To bring about the end of JAX Finance Day 1, a free event was organised consisting of two sessions and a plethora of networking opportunities, all fuelled by good beer. Peter Lawrey was back talking low latency, with Dr Jamie Allsop presenting on algorithmic architecture and the evolving regulatory architecture.

Want more? Stay tuned for the Day 2 roundup, or follow us on Twitter for live pictures, reflections and quotes (@jaxfinance).

Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

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