Lehman Brothers: Will IT innovation go down with the bank?

Lehman Brothers , which went spectacularly bankrupt yesterday, was a technology powerhouse that pioneered grid computing and was able to sell the technology it developed in house to traditional software vendors.

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Lehman Brothers , which went spectacularly bankrupt yesterday, was a technology powerhouse that pioneered grid computing and was able to sell the technology it developed in house to traditional software vendors.

The bank spent $1.14 billion last year on IT and employed 25,000 staff in total, including more than 5,000 in the UK. The future of those staff and the projects they were involved in is now in doubt as administrators study the books.

Lehmam’s chief technology office Hari Gopalkrishnan was regarded as one of the most creative IT leaders in the US.

He linked Lehman’s grid computing drive to a distributed caching framework. This effort included development of high-performance messaging, service orientation (by swapping out the mainframe with standard interfaces) and rich dashboards.

"This allows us to get real visibility around our metrics and our data, to look at our trade lifecycle and where we can improve our productivity," Gopalkrishnan told ComputerworldUK’s sister title InfoWorld, earlier this year.

Gopalkrishnan’s team also put in a governance framework. "We started some really interesting stuff that we need to make progress and put some focus around."

The IT team Lehman Brothers has a reputation for innovation. Not long ago Gopalkrishnan led a project to build a portal for both external and internal audiences at Lehman.

"Along the way, we built some single-sign-on VPN technology because it didn't exist in those days and subsequently commercialised it by selling it to Citrix," he said.

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