CME Group's CIO Tackles Merger Integrations, Big Data

Kevin Kometer started at futures exchange CME group as a lead programmer, but by accepting myriad positions over the past 20 years, he accumulated the knowledge to lead a global company that electronically processes 3 million futures contracts a year.

As senior managing director and CIO at CME Group for the past five years, Kevin Kometer oversaw IT operations during the futures exchange's merger with the Chicago Board of Trade and its acquisition of The New York Mercantile Exchange. He is responsible for advancing the global growth of the company's IT infrastructure, including technology distribution for 15 strategic partnerships and 10 telecommunication hubs around the world. Last year, CME processed almost 3 million futures contracts. The company is currently rolling out the next version of its 20-year-old Globex electronic trading system.

Kevin Kometer

The iPadIs there something that most people don't know about you? I was turned down for my first job in technology -- they didn't think I would stay in the [IT field].Have you read any good books recently?Zero Day, by David BaldacciWhat do you do during off-hours? I have four kids, so that consumes a great deal of time. They all love the water, just like me, so we enjoy boating and Jet Skiing. I also love golf and tennis.What do you like most about your job? It's never boring -- ever.

You've led several mergers since becoming CIO.What key lessons have you learned about integrating disparate platforms? I would say it's all about setting expectations early on as it relates to the direction of these platforms and the scope. So we created a nice framework going from high-level planning with significant leaders down into detailed planning thereafter. You do need to lock in the scope and expectations so you can get the teams on both sides -- the company you're acquiring and your company -- working toward the same goal.

What about project scope creep?How do you handle that? It often happens, and it's [not uncommon] when you're dealing with two different companies and you've got bias toward one system versus the other. You've got to keep your eye toward what the goals are, whether its synergy or functionality, and make sure the business is aligning with its decision-making toward those goals.

Has the CME Groupconsumerization of IT challenged CME?And how have you addressed the issue of employees using their personal mobile devices on the job? We've been largely a BlackBerry shop. We decided the biggest factor is security. So we came up with [a policy] we felt comfortable with from a security perspective. [We have] some basic security requirements, such as wiping, and a list of phones we're comfortable providing. We've allowed our staff to choose from that list. We definitely see an appetite for the iPhone. So we've rolled out iPhones quite a bit over the last year.

Where do you stand with mobile device management and controlling access to corporate data? We're actually in a proof of concept right now with mobile device management. The information that goes onto mobile devices from a corporate perspective is mostly email, messaging and things of that nature. We're preparing to do more in the future. But we want to make sure we have the ability to control that before we provide access to more data right now.

What keeps you up at night? I wouldn't say anything keeps me up at night. We certainly spend a significant amount of time dealing with capacity, and performance and scalability. That's an ongoing activity in this industry. I wouldn't say there are limitations there as much as trying to stay in front of the customer demand and the volume.

What current or upcoming technology do you see as a game-changer in the data center, and why? I think we're certainly tackling many of the same problems other companies are. We're looking at interesting solutions for the big-data problems. Things are increasingly real-time, and that's driving the need for more real-time data ... and it drives an awful lot of risk management as well.

So we're looking to bring in a number of solutions outside of your traditional relational databases. We're implementing Hadoop, Exadata from Oracle -- things of that nature.

How far along are you toward rolling out Hadoop? We've got a basic implementation right now. We're working on fine-tuning that and working through a few configuration and performance challenges.

What are you going to be using Hadoop for? Initially, mostly historical market data. Think of it as a market data repository that can be leveraged throughout the company for a variety of things, and ultimately passing that out to the customer.

What does the Globex upgrade involve? We're moving to some new switches. We're running mostly on Cisco switches at this point. We're moving into some new hardware. We've rewritten the gateways with some different coding techniques. We're mostly a Java shop, so we're minimizing garbage collection and doing a better job with threading and things of that nature.

We were in the proof-of-concept and planning phase late last year. That quickly went from proof of concept to execution at the tail end of last year. We will see 50% to 75% improvement in variability and processing time of Globex orders and market data.

If you could offer one piece of advice to young IT professionals aspiring to become CIOs, what would that be? I would try to coach them into exploring a number of different responsibilities within IT. Too often you see an IT professional start out on the infrastructure side and stay there, or start off in the application development side and stay there.

To become an effective CIO, you need to explore opportunities in a number of different IT functions that will give you exposure to many businesses you may be supporting. That collective experience will prepare you best for becoming a CIO.

- Interview by Lucas Mearian

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This story, "CME Group's CIO Tackles Merger Integrations, Big Data" was originally published by Computerworld.

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