Lotus, O'Connor team for Realtime

by Dan Ruby

New York NeXT stepped up its assault on Wall Street with help from Lotus Development and O'Connor & Associates at the Securities Industry Association (SIA) meeting here last month.

The three companies combined forces to announce Lotus Realtime for NeXTSTEP, the most flexible version of a Lotus system for capturing live market information into trading applications. While Lotus is promoting its technology as a standard for all UNIX workstations, only the NeXTSTEP version can be easily integrated into custom applications.

O'Connor, a Chicago-based options trading firm that is one of NeXT's biggest customers, announced that it had formed a software development spinoff, Black Diamond Technologies, to market tradingsoftware for NeXTSTEP. It has the exclusive license to market Lotus Realtime for NeXT for two years.

"This announcement represents the marriage of two great technologies. We want to ensure that Realtime and NeXTSTEP are accepted as standards and benefit the industry as a whole," said Craig Heimark, director of technology and general partner of O'Connor & Associates.

NeXT's progress on Wall Street was reflected in its broad presence at SIA. A year ago, only one NeXT system was exhibited at the show. This year, NeXT computers populated at least a dozen booths besides NeXT's own. Steve Jobs also delivered the conference keynote.

While previous trading systems have been based on proprietary technology for receiving real-time data, which locked users into a single vendor's trading solution, Lotus technology provides a standard means for accessing live market data.

"We're bringing the concept of open systems to this market for the first time," said Frank Ingari, Lotus's vice-president of marketing.

At the heart of the system is the Realtime Engine, which accepts live data from feed servers, translates the data from native formats to the Realtime format, and delivers it through an application program interface (API) to a front-end application.

On other platforms, the front end is Lotus 1-2-3. On NeXT, Realtime is tightly integrated with Lotus Improv, but the API can interface with any NeXTSTEP application. Black Diamond is developing a link to Informix's Wingz, and Lotus said it will develop a set of Realtime objects that work with NeXT's AppKit.

Lotus Realtime for NeXTSTEP will be available from Black Diamond in the third quarter for $1150 per user, or bundled with Improv for $1660. A developer tool kit can be licensed for an annual site licence of $5000.

Black Diamond can be reached at 312/554-5455.