The 2013 Tech 50: Simon Garland

The chief strategist of Kx Systems focuses on running kdb+ on the latest hardware at certifiably top speeds.



Simon Garland
Chief Strategist
Kx Systems

Securities-trading volumes are below the peaks of the past bull market, yet there has been no letup in demand for systems that process and analyze ever-mounting quantities of transaction data at unrelentingly accelerating speeds. “Increasing amounts of data are being crunched,” observes Simon Garland, chief strategist at Kx Systems, whose high-performance databases have been helping to satisfy Wall Street’s need for speed since its founding 20 years ago. If market activity alone isn’t fueling the spike in data, financial firms’ strategies and creativity are. “People are keeping more history” for strategy-building, notes Garland (No. 45 in 2011). Palo Alto, California–based Kx’s kdb+ system is being applied in new ways, such as in options, where “proper databases” are replacing the traditional practice of  loading information as needed. The 58-year-old Garland, who worked in the database search business and at Credit Suisse before joining Kx in 2002, focuses on running kdb+ on the latest hardware at certifiably top speeds, as validated by recent Securities Technology Analysis Center benchmark tests. Enabling the continual “speed-ups,” he says, is Kx’s own “elegant, concise and powerful ‘q’ [programming] language.” The language and architecture build upon development approaches championed by chairman and co-founder Arthur Whitney in earlier stints at UBS and Morgan Stanley.

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