Microwave and Big Data Pack One-Two Punch

Terry Flanagan

Massive increases in transmission and processing capacity, have resulted in innovations such as microwave and Big Data becoming household words within the financial community.

“Firms are spending money to get to markets faster,” said Andrew Kusminsky, chief operating officer and chief strategy officer at Perseus Telecom, at the Telx Marketplace Live event in New York. “Prop trading firms are starting to look at global markets, so their telecom spend is no longer limited to New York and New Jersey, which is ideal for us because of our global footprint.”

Perseus Telecom, a provider of ultra-low latency trading networks, has been providing microwave services to banks, proprietary trading firms and market makers since 2010 on a mainly proprietary basis.

Perseus was a first mover on the London-to-Frankfurt route, which launched in October 2012. Perseus Telecom’s next initiative is to launch intra-London market-to-market microwave connectivity between major London trading centers including NYSE Liffe and NYSE Euronext, London Stock Exchange and Turquoise, as well as Bats’ Chi-X Europe, ICAP, and several other alternative venues’ trading engines.

“As a result of our building this network, firms can acquire bandwidth incrementally as opposed to building their own networks,” said Kusminsky.

A form of Moore’s Law seems to be at work as it relates to Big Data in capital markets. “Every 18 months, we are seeing a 50% increase in bandwidth requirements,” said Vipul Nagrath, chief information officer, enterprise solutions at Bloomberg, at the Telx event. “For the 400 exchanges to which we’re connected, our update rate is five million ticks per second. The per-second message rate is even greater, because for every tick that Bloomberg receives, it generates multiple messages on its consolidated market feeds.”

A relative rise in options volumes and the introduction of new instruments, such as mini options, is encouraging prop trading firms to ramp up their options trading activity.

“These opportunities are being created by a proliferation of data volumes and options trading venues,” said Fintan Quill, senior engineer at Kx Systems, a provider of high-performance database and time-series analysis. “Prop traders are employing more complex trading strategies which (in essence) arbitrage between the wider variety of products, data and venues.”

Prague-based RSJ, the largest trader of financial derivatives in the Czech Republic, uses Kx’s kdb+ to support its algorithmic trading. The company collects data on numerous instruments, with over 10 million records per day on Eurodollar futures alone.

It collects complex price data from multiple exchanges, notably Eurex, NYSE Liffe and CME, using kdb+ for complex and sophisticated mathematical and statistical models.

“As well as very significant reductions in processing times, where previously a query on a day’s data would take a couple of hours – which is far too slow – with kdb+ we can write a query in a couple of minutes and see the results in second,” said Martin Ducháček, head of algorithmic system development at RSJ. “This allows us to react to market situations almost immediately.”

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