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Monday, June 16, 2008

SIFMA Retrospective

Posted by John Bates

Img00040As a follow-up to my colleague Louis' report on last week's SIFMA show, I thought I'd add some thoughts of my own. My conclusion is that it was the most exciting SIFMA show I have experienced.  While I think attendance was down from previous years, I also think the quality of attendees was up. And for me personally, the excitement of being involved in some industry-moving announcements as well as meeting up with many of my colleagues from capital markets firms, vendors, press and analysts was highly invigorating.

So what were the highlights and take-aways for me?

1. CEP is clearly a theme that is getting a lot of mindshare. So many people said that CEP was a key theme of the show – which is great to hear after many years of working to help define the market. It’s also great to see this add to the momentum so soon after the Event Processing Technical Society was launched. The use cases of CEP are many and varied – and there was a lot of interest and questions around this at SIFMA. We demonstrated on our SIFMA booth 5 different CEP use cases on 5 different pods - algorithmic trading, smart order routing, managing FX market fragmentation, market surveillance and real-time bond pricing. Also the demands of CEP applications continue to make demands on the technology, and we were thrilled to demonstrate Apama 4.0 – which extends performance and user experience of CEP to new levels. Another supporting factor in the maturing of CEP is that there are starting to be very senior people in Capital Markets firms focusing on CEP as an enabling technology. Marc Adler from Citigroup   is a key example. He’s active in the community and on the STAC CEP committee, helping to define benchmarks. It was great to meet Marc at SIFMA and also to catch up with many  other esteemed colleagues from the CEP space.

2. The liquidity wars are hotting up. It was our pleasure to be involved in a press release with NYSE-Euronext which was certainly one of the big releases of the conference. Progress Apama will be hosted in the NYSE Euronext as part of the exchange's Advanced Trading Solutions offering. Traders will be able to download custom logic for algorithmic trading, risk management and smart order routing into the NYSE itself - with low latency connectivity to other trading venues via Wombat and Transact Tools. This arrangement turns NYSE into a technology provider as well as a one-stop-shop liquidity provider. This announcement was picked up by major press, including the Financial Times - in Europe, America and Asia -- see the article here.

3. Hardware is important – and so is “green”. The increase of capital markets data volumes require completely new software architectures – like CEP. But software is not always enough to support the low latency transport , processing and storage requirements. Many firms are turning to specialized hardware, combined with software – to create high performance solutions. Vhayu, for example, launched Squeezer – which combines hardware and software to supercharge their tick data offering. Also, Progress Apama were pleased to put out a joint announcement with Sun on a collaboration for end-to-end CEP solutions – combining Sun hardware and operating systems with Apama’s CEP platform and solutions. We demonstrated an end-to-end bond pricing application using the whole stack. Sun was one of the vendors who have a “green” aspect to their hardware – for example on a major CEP deployment, the hardware can be scoped for peak throughput – but can selectively shut down capacity to save power when event throughput is reduced. In this era of high energy costs and global warming there seems to be a lot of interest in this approach.

4. I love partying on the trading floor. Progress Apama were honored to be invited to a party at the NYSE to celebrate the latest developments at NYSE-Euronext (see picture at the top). It was a great pleasure to speak with our friends at NYSE-Euronext and to meet many of our old friends from the capital markets industry there – while sipping some delicious wine in that amazing place. In a way it is a shame that electronic trading is making the traditional trading floor a thing of the past – but there is something amazing about that place and I hope it stays just the way it is – even if it becomes a cool venue for other purposes. Thanks to NYSE-Euronext for inviting us – we had a great time.

I’m sure I’ve neglected a load of other trends and themes – but there’s my brain dump for the day. I’m interested to hear if you all agree.

John

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