The theme of this year's Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association's Technology Management Conference is--not surprisingly--the critical role of technology in challenging economic times. That is an understatement. The current financial crisis is permanently reshaping the global financial system, even as the information and technology needed to run today's financial services firms continues to grow by orders of magnitude, along with the need to comply with ever-more complex regulations. Grappling with these realities while planning for future growth requires a variety of IT solutions. In this annual conference preview, we tackle the key issues and technologies that will be front and center when the Sifma conference opens on June 23, and talk with the industry's foremost experts about the state of securities technology in difficult economic times. Our aim is to provide value-added insights and advice to complement and enhance the conference's overall industry perspective. As Katherine Heires reports in her conference preview on page 9, "co-lo," or aggregated collocation services, is set to be a hot topic at the confab. Collapsing expensive infrastructure is a cost reduction that will be in demand, she reports, as CIOs become ever more aggressive in seeking out technologies that reduce operating costs. "Cutting Costs with Technology on the Buy Side," by Alexa Jaworski on page 10, offers five ways Wall Street CIOs can cut costs while focusing on core competencies. Virtualization, or the decoupling of a computer from the software system that tells it how to operate, is another cost-driven trend that is prompting a sea change in how data centers are configured. However, as Tom Steinert-Threlkeld reports on page 14, to achieve successful deployment, CIOs need to understand the distinct phases of virtualization. In "Cloud Management Providers Tackle Lock-In" on page 16, Maria Korolov reports that the lure of cloud computing is that a company can easily scale applications up or down, or move them from internal to external locations, to match demand, optimize performance, or lower costs. But users may find themselves trapped in a relationship with a particular cloud vendor. Our story looks at ways cloud management providers are dealing with the issue. In the drive to pare down IT costs, risk management is one of the notable exceptions. With a renewed focus on all kinds of risk exposure, IT executives list risk management as a top priority. As we report on page 17, "fear-based buying" is prompting growth in areas like managing options risk and buy-side risk analytics, as securities firms seek ways to reduce their firm's risk profile and achieve greater awareness of embedded risk. Finally, in "How to Speed Trades, Lower Cost" on page 18, Chris Kentouris says firms are turning to IT providers to achieve the best trade price at the fastest speed and the lowest cost possible. They are seeking smart order routing systems, algorithmic trading platforms and complex event processing tools to meet their goals, and are embracing the idea of outsourcing their infrastructure, attracted by the promise of no upfront costs to build or costs to maintain and upgrade hardware and software applications. A challenging environment? Of course--but also one filled with opportunities. We'll be reporting daily from the Sifma technology conference during the show, from June 23 to 25. And you'll be able to get the latest news at securitiesindustry.com. This article can also be found at SecuritiesIndustry.com.

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