TRADERS Q&A: Nikolai Larbalestier, Nasdaq

Traders Magazine’s sister publication Markets Media recently caught up with Nikolai Larbalestier, SVP, Enterprise Architecture and Performance Engineering at Nasdaq, to discuss the architecture of markets and how it is evolving.

Talk a little about your recent career history, i.e. your work and accomplishments over the past six+ years with Nasdaq?

Since joining Nasdaq in 2013, I’ve worked on a range of strategic projects aimed at advancing our technology and solutions, working with our global teams to provide the best-in-class software solutions for ourselves and our clients. Over my career, I worked in several of the world’s financial centers including London, New York, Sydney and Chicago, where I architected and developed systems for trading and settlement for market operators and participants, as well as systems for order routing and market making. So when I joined Nasdaq, I was able to hit the ground running, and dove into evolving our trading system offerings, as well as defined and created key capabilities for our data services. Most recently, I’ve been part of a core team who are instrumental in defining and driving our Nasdaq Financial Framework transformational initiative.

What is your remit currently?

In my role as SVP, Enterprise Architecture and Performance Engineering, I am focused on driving the adoption of new technologies and strategic initiatives across business lines and technology, including our cloud strategy, architecture and platform for enabling cloud development and deployment across our range of systems, while maintaining the highest standards for security, resiliency and performance. As part of this role, it is my responsibility to keep Nasdaq on the forefront of technology adoption, including the application of cloud computing for our full suite of solutions and services. It’s a very exciting, challenging role and as the industry becomes even more cloud-forward, I think Nasdaq is well-positioned to deliver value to the industry with our NFF platform.

How is the architecture of markets evolving?

From my side, I’ve seen the evolution start with services that support market operations, including data access, storage, reporting and other services, as well as customer provisioning. The cloud is a superior platform for dealing with the volumes of data produced by the US and global markets and for enabling the provisioning of new services and offerings in a more agile fashion. Nasdaq is fully engaged with cloud across a variety of initiatives and finding opportunities to leverage the technology to further innovate our market systems – and in doing so, this is enabling our clients to be more innovative themselves.

How will this evolution unfold in the future?

The evolution of market architecture will only continue to accelerate. And with the increasing penetration and acceptance of cloud computing in the financial services space, markets run in the cloud will not be unheard of. Creating the next generation of markets architected natively for the cloud, which includes working closely with our clients and regulators, will be the next big change that will unlock scale and elasticity for future growth.

Where is Nasdaq deploying cloud currently?

For us, we have been cloud adopters for nearly 10 years. We have it deployed across a range of offerings, encompassing all major business units – this will only increase going forward.

For example, in our Market Technology business, we have client solutions deployed and operating in the cloud (we are cloud vendor agnostic). Most recently, we announced a new client called the Football Index out of the UK. This is an important announcement for our New Markets initiative, which is providing market technology to non-traditional, non-financial markets. A big growth area for us. Football Index will be operating on a cloud-optimized, SaaS deployed matching engine.

We see client adoption of cloud increasing steadily and anticipate continued ramp up of adoption from both our SaaS offerings and our traditional products in the cloud.

In our Transaction Services business, we are a long term cloud user, and early adopter. Our biggest deployment here is our Nasdaq Data Warehouse which services a variety of internal and external data analytics and reporting needs, capturing more than 30 billion records / day from our US markets systems.

Our Information Services business has several cloud-based offerings, including our eVestment buy-side offering and Quandl alternative data. On the Corporate side, Nasdaq has tapped SaaS vendors for a variety of corporate systems as well.

How is Nasdaq an industry leader in the area of cloud and market architecture?

As an early adopter of cloud, we have experienced first-hand the benefits of cloud computing for some time, and have been making the case internally and externally for cloud adoption over the years. Given our unique dual role as a major market operator and technology provider to the world’s markets, we play an integral part in connecting buyers and sellers in the financial ecosystem, and beyond, to drive the global economy forward.

By embracing the cloud, we can more easily integrate disparate systems and create a foundation for separate entities to communicate, creating a larger ecosystem impact. This cloud linkage will ultimately increase efficiency and generate additional value for clients and ourselves. We see this as a pioneering approach for constructing a marketplace, and ultimately lays the foundation for a holistic financial ecosystem servicing our clients, partners and ourselves.