Eddie, you have been with my-Channels since the firm was founded in 1999. Why has it taken so long for the FX market to really embrace streaming technology?
Well, in reality, the FX market has long embraced streaming technology. I would say most of the leading platforms have been using streaming for over ten years, and newer entrants to the market now employ streaming as standard.
While streaming technology has been visibly present for all this time, it was previously used by organisations on a rather piecemeal basis. The earliest entrants tended to implement their own streaming technology, which was usually tied in to their specific application. As a result, these organisations regularly found themselves writing maintenance code to keep up with technology changes rather than focusing purely on business logic.
Nowadays, the use of dedicated streaming infrastructure is more widely accepted as a key architectural component for trading platforms, and this goes some way to explaining what appears to be its recent rise in profile. Added to this is the fact that today there are many more banks building trading platforms than there were ten years ago.
Why should FX trading firms be taking more interest in middleware technology? Isn’t it just a black box that is best left to the back-room boys and platform developers?
Many of the advances in FX dealing platforms have been technology led, and so to treat a key component such as middleware as a black box would be foolish. If anything, we are seeing the opposite: financial institutions are far more aware of the business opportunities presented by direct methods of communication with their clients, and are therefore keen to understand how different middleware technologies can help them take advantage of these opportunities.
Leading middleware products are an enabling technology allowing you to do more with existing data, and leverage it in new ways. New delivery channels are emerging all the time, and present a fantastic opportunity for those who are first to market. Those organisations that achieve this often develop a considerable and lasting competitive advantage.
FX trading firms have realised that their choice of middleware technology will actually play an important role in determining how they can react to new opportunities: how they deliver their data, how and even whether they can reach new clients, and ultimately how they can maximise revenue streams.
We are now starting to hear the terms Unified Messaging and Last Mile Messaging, but what do these really mean in practice?
Unified Messaging brings together multiple delivery channels, and recognises that one ubiquitous piece of infrastructure, end to end, can underpin all of your data distribution. It needn’t be an ad hoc process, involving often complex integration of disparate components, and all the inefficiencies this entails.
Last Mile Messaging is the delivery of your data and rich content to a client, across the channel of their choice - whether that be enterprise, web or mobile, using both established and new standards such HTML5 WebSocket.
What are the main challenges of bridging the gap between a trading firm’s internal data and their external customers?
The first major challenge is that of control. Beyond the boundaries of their own business, trading firms really have no control over the standards used, services expected, or infrastructure between their boundary and the client. A trading firm’s best solution is to use a messaging layer that abstracts the delivery of data from the infrastructural complexities that exist in the marketplace.
Change is a constant, both in the market and in the external delivery channels available to participants. A messaging product, which allows you to easily leverage new technologies while insulating you from the underlying implementation, reduces cost and time to market significantly thus offering tremendous value.
Nirvana is the my-Channels middleware platform. What are the key benefits of deploying it in the development and construction of FX trading architectures?
There are many benefits to deploying my-Channels Nirvana: rapid delivery to a multitude of devices and platforms without additional changes to middle or back end systems, a proven track record of performance across the full range of market conditions, and considerably less developer work required to handle continued changes in technology. Many of our single dealer platform customers have quickly capitalised on new delivery channel opportunities without modifying their overall architecture.
Can we expect to see Nirvana increasingly being used by developers who are working on bidirectional communication applications for mobile devices used for example, by FX traders?
Yes, this is happening today. We have many customers who are already deploying mobile applications that use my-Channels Nirvana for streaming. Amongst them, we have to date seen a mixed approach, with some developing native applications, while others have chosen to adopt HTML5. It will be interesting to see how this evolves moving forward. We will of course be focused on providing a best of breed solution for both approaches.
What does my-Channels hope to achieve during the coming year with respect to further developing your products and overall business?
The global economic situation seems, to an almost surprising degree, to have further spurred many businesses into seeking and developing competitive technical advantages. For the fourth year running, my-Channels have seen a consistent growth in new clients, including additional tier 1 banks. Their feedback is exceptionally valuable and has helped us further refine my-Channels Nirvana.
Since we are, first and foremost, a unified messaging company, we strive to give our clients ultra low latency performance across a range of deployment scenarios. Historically we have always improved upon my-Channels Nirvana’s performance with each release, and will continue to do so with our next major release. In particular we have some very interesting announcements coming up regarding features for ultra low latency messaging.
We will also continue to support new and evolving delivery channels to help our customers remain a step ahead of the market. We view standards as being a hugely important area of innovation and we invest considerable effort in evaluating them for applicability. my-Channels is often first to market in delivering such standards within a commercial product. We will continue to focus on leading in this area by adopting open industry-recognised standards as they emerge.