Trading Up to Open Source

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One of the signs that the open source ecosystem is thriving is the appearance of solution serving vertical markets. Here's another one:

Marketcetera Inc provides open source software for automated trading systems. With 10,000 software downloads and more than 20 production deployments, Marketcetera provides maximum flexibility and technology choice to financial services institutions of all sizes. Marketcetera's platform lets brokers and traders build effective automated trading systems, develop proprietary algorithms, create order management solutions and manage risk faster, easier and at much lower cost than with closed platforms.

Now, admittedly the high-stake professional gamblers aka traders may not be the most popular people at the moment, but it's certainly an environment that brings out the best in free software. It's fiercely competitive, where even marginal advantages can mean big gains; it's evolving quickly, as new ideas (not always good ones, alas) appear and old ones are phased out; and it's under tremendous pressure to cut costs to the bone. The power, customisability and low TCO of open source means that it meets all these requirements.

The Marketcetera solution is built on a very large number of open source projects, as the licence makes evident. The ability to construct vertical solutions by bolting together many pre-existing free elements is another – unique - advantage of open source.

The new code that has been added to these established projects is released under the GNU GPL v2. That's welcome, but there's a slightly misleading statement on the home page regarding downloads, which says that: “To download you must be registered.” Of course, you can't enforce restrictions of that kind under the GNU GPL: anyone can download the code and simply repost it without those conditions. In fact, it turns out that you actually get something else by registering:

You will receive an email with a unique identifier that you can use for connecting to our exchange simulator and login to our wiki to view documentation.

It would be better if Marketcetera reworded their site to reflect this, since it otherwise gives the impression that the company doesn't really understand open source, whose virtues it rightly promotes as a key advantage of its offering That would be a pity, since free software lends itself to this market sector, and anything that helps to propagate it and its ideas there is to be welcomed.