Trading Software Chat: Rafael Paiva, CoralBlocks
The following Q&A first appeared in GlobalTrading Journal.
Rafael Paiva is Managing Director at CoralBlocks.
What’s the story of how CoralBlocks came into existence? What market gap did you identify that needed to be filled?
CoralBlocks was born to help firms that want to build their own low-latency trading platforms have control and flexibility, without having to write and maintain every single element of it. We stripped down the common components from a typical trading platform and built the leanest and meanest manifestations of them, with a very clean architecture and APIs. They all have top performance and zero garbage collection across the board.
We started the company with the idea of building CoralSequencer, our messaging middleware, but we quickly saw that we needed a less ambitious approach at first in order to get market adoption.
That’s when the Blocks concept came to life – several smaller components that could be more easily understood and could be added to any infrastructure in smaller steps. CoralFIX came as a natural block for us and was very well accepted from the get-go.
You are a relatively new player in a very competitive landscape. How did you get traction?
Obviously, risk is seriously managed in this industry. We were very fortunate in that we engaged with several large, technologically sophisticated firms that identified our potential and were able to verify our quality through evaluations and become clients. As a result, we now have several very successful implementations and in 2019 we closed a record number of deals. We are enormously thankful to our early adopters.
Who are CoralBlocks’ key clients, and what are their main technological pain points?
Our current clients are banks, exchanges and prop trading firms. We have two specific entry points: greenfield platform development for the first time on a new venture, or for a major technology revamp our clients usually go for the full CoralBlocks suite. Since we have a wide array of components, some of our clients might want to optimize and upgrade one particular point of their stack using only a few blocks initially.
The two main drivers to adoption are time to market, and focus. With the infrastructure taken care of, we can enable clients to move quickly and have production ready platforms in 3-6 months instead of looking at a multiyear project. Additionally, this allows them to focus on what differentiates them from the competition as they know that they have a robust, top-performing foundation that can and will keep evolving over time.
What is CoralSequencer and why is it important?
CoralSequencer is our Multicast UDP messaging bus. Basically it is the heart of a trading system, built on an architecture that is being recognized by a large portion of leading firms in the industry as the best approach on which to build a trading platform.
Since all elements on the distributed system listen to the full stream of messages that are processed and transmitted in a deterministic way, that solves several problems typical to a trading platform in an elegant and streamlined way. It enables thorough testing and helps reporting and compliance, since every decision made by the aggregate platform can be reproduced and explained. The entire system has built-in resilience, accomplished in a simpler manner as each actor can fail and be replaced without affecting the other elements.
Finally, we have a focus on performance, which is essential, and we squeezed every last drop of latency out of it.
What’s the biggest challenge you face to increase CoralBlocks adoption?
I think the hardest obstacle we have to overcome is the “buy vs. build” debate within our clients. As mentioned, our target audience is very technologically savvy, and they want to have control over every single aspect of their platform software stack. But when they become confident in our technology and support, it becomes clear that using our battle-tested blocks decreases the risk of a project and allows them to focus their energy better without losing flexibility. And our singular focus on our Blocks allowed us to put a lot of thought and pack a lot of features that would demand a long time for clients to build from scratch and mature, which wouldn’t be practical for a team building all aspects of a platform.
What are users saying about CoralBlocks?
“Building and operating a national securities exchange requires robust, efficient, and reliable code. CoralBlocks offers just that with a unique CoralSequencer architecture. But that was expected. Where I was most pleasantly surprised was their high-touch customer service. In an environment where immediate action is needed at any moment’s notice, CoralBlocks is there for us every single time. We enjoy working with CoralBlocks and look forward to doing so in the future.” –Hyon Lee, Software Architect, LTSE
“We have been working with CoralBlocks for a while now, and two aspects stand out: the product’s top performance and clean architecture, and the level of engagement with our team. They embrace clients’ challenges and ideas and add to their roadmap with a very fast turnaround.” –Kathryn Zhao, Global Head of Electronic Trading, Cantor Fitzgerald
What does the future hold for CoralBlocks?
As we grow our clients’ ecosystem and our technology gets stressed in different directions, we are packing a lot of new useful features. Our testing layer is becoming more and more robust, and we will keep innovating so our clients will keep getting new benefits along the way.
We are also working on a CoralBlocks certification program to strengthen our developer community. A strong developer community is essential for our evolution and that has benefits for everyone.
We are really excited to push our roadmap forward and also develop new product ideas.