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Meeting the market’s evolving needs

Matt Eddy
Matt Eddy
Head of Real-Time Delivery & Integration at Refinitiv

The TREP enterprise platform supports countless financial organizations with market data feed infrastructure for human and machine consumption. How is TREP evolving to meet changing customer needs, including through Refinitiv’s Real-Time in the Cloud?

  1. The TREP enterprise platform powers applications and desktops with a range of market data sources, news and insight for trading and risk decisions.
  2. Refinitiv’s Real-Time in the Cloud service is attracting a wide range of customers, including blue-chips where time to market for new products is critical.
  3. Customer Advisory Forums will reveal the next steps in TREP’s move towards seamless, unified real-time service across deployed, private and public cloud services.

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On a trading floor in an investment bank or at a hedge fund, stability is good. Predictability means profits. Repeatable practises with known outcomes are sought. So why change a good thing?

Much of the same can be said about the technology and applications driving business workflows.

One platform that’s the beating heart of many financial institutions, and at the forefront of those workflows in one shape or other over the past 30 years, has been the TREP enterprise platform.

TREP powers applications and desktops with a range of market data sources, news and insight that informs trading and risk decisions millions of times a day at thousands of customer sites.

Capabilities within TREP allow the same piece of data to be delayed, transformed, blended and sent simultaneously to multiple regions, using different traffic management algorithms.

All these capabilities help customers manage their compute and network costs, their application performance and their exchange spend.

They also ensure each link in pre-, at- and post-trade workflows is using the best quality, consistent data points — whether from a vendor or internally generated — to achieve the best results and for seamless accounting.

TREP doesn’t work alone

Market data is an expensive, complex beast to manage. Cost control and audit compliance are a mandatory requirement for everyone in the financial services business.

Our data access control system (DACS) has sat alongside TREP as the entitlements management system for decades, and the vast majority of customers that use TREP also rely on DACS. They work so seamlessly together and offer such great options and control that it just makes sense.

How do you easily get access to all this enriched, managed, curated, and compliant content?

Through a broad range of APIs and SDKs, designed to suit the characteristics of whichever workflow or activity you are coding against.

That ecosystem of capabilities is all most customers need, particularly when coupled with the 84 million instruments in Elektron Real Time’s universe, offering standardized symbology, well-defined data models, and global support coverage.

Enterprise platform experience

Prior to coming back to Refinitiv, I was a customer looking after these products and solutions on behalf of a range of investment banks for 13 years.

I’ve worked on Triarch to RMDS, TIB to RMDS, RMDS to TREP upgrades, I fondly remember the Unix based DACS 4 GUI, attempting (and failing!) to write simple RFA applications. I’m sure there is an AMS Appreciation Society out there somewhere, reminiscing over the good old days of the Krakatoa server – and I’m not the only one.

Brian Sandri, Director of Elektron Capabilities, who leads the real-time development team at Oak Brook, says: “The key leaders on the team each have nearly 20 years of experience across the full spectrum of Enterprise Platform components, and our collective abilities allow us to pilot the teams into the future.”

But change is good, so we’re changing a good thing. Or, more accurately, evolving a good thing into a great thing.

Changing customer needs

We need to evolve because our customers’ needs are changing.

There are industry themes and disruptive technologies that mean a shift in how customers will operate their existing businesses, as well as looking at how they can profit from new business ventures.

Examples of those themes we’re seeing are some of the obvious ones such as the rise of cloud, and a renewed focus on total cost of ownership and vendor rationalisation, but also some newer topics.

These include zero-trust/zero-access architecture and the blurring of lines between developers that trade and traders that code.

We want to make sure that TREP and our real-time distribution capabilities are there to address all those needs and enabling that is central to our real-time delivery strategy.

Of course, implementing those changes will not be at the expense of our core business.

Reduced operating costs

For many customers, it will not be a case of one day you’re running a massive deployed platform and then flip entirely to an outsourced or managed model over a weekend.

The reality is that, for many customers, there will always be a need for a deployed platform, running inside their physical data centers.

Those reasons may be as prosaic as misplacing the source code needed to re-platform, management bias to keep their cards close to their chest or because the regulators in that region tell them to.

But for many, they have read the stories about massive cost saves and increased agility associated with the cloud and so are looking at the cloud to help find new ways of beating the market or significantly reducing operating costs for mission critical workloads.

Real-Time in the Cloud

For those working in the banking technology industry, the cloud has been the most disruptive event in the past 20 years, probably since the internet became ubiquitous in homes and businesses and opened up so many new opportunities.

The cloud creates many possibilities but also many risks to those institutions that have thrived on stability, uniformity, and process. Managing the new breed of end-user, in addition to the existing community of more traditional users, is a new challenge.

With the software developments we’ve been focussing on, we want to ensure our Refinitiv real-time services can cater for both ends of the spectrum, and critically, allow those different profiles to easily co-exist and move workloads between the different environments.

Our Real-Time in the Cloud service offering has been winning a wide range of customers, not only at the smaller start-ups but in blue-chips where cloud’s fail fast mentality has also taken hold and time to market for new products is critical.

Solving the needs of customers

Whether that session is very light touch websockets connectivity or the familiar and performant Refinitiv real-time SDK, the experience, the data model and entitlements control is familiar and consistent.

The aim is to be flexible in our feature additions to solve the needs of our wide array of customers. This includes full support for virtualized and containerized environments, AWS cloud use, and standards based API users with websockets, JSON, and REST.

But don’t think we’re leaving our roots behind.

Dave Mazeska, Director of TREP Architecture, points out: “In addition to its hosted capabilities, TREP continues to focus on its deployed customer base. This includes enhancements to its core functionality as well as ensuring it runs easily within all three major cloud providers.”.

But the focus has not just been on how we can offer new capabilities to the end user.

TREP system administration

For the system administrators that manage TREP for their internal application owners, they need to be able to offer a competitive, efficient platform, whether on premise or off premise.

The work we’ve been doing to support TREP in a virtualized or containerized environment over the past 18 months is to enable those customers in their effort to drive costs down.

Exposing more system metrics and allowing for remote, interactive TREP troubleshooting via the new REST API allows those system administrators to make intelligent decisions about how to manage their environment.

It will also allow administrators to programmatically decide how best to route data between between the lowest latency end points, prioritizing instrument caches that contain the most up to date images and ensuring inter-regional systems are fully synchronized before the start of the trading day.

Customers help us shape the future

These are just a few of the enhancements we’ve made through 2019 and into 2020.

Looking longer term, one thing that our customers have been asking for is a better understanding of how they can align themselves with our real-time strategy, and for more details on how Refinitiv is building out that future.

This is where our Customer Advisory Forums (CAFs) have played a leading role.

CAFs are invitation-only forums that allow a wide spectrum of our TREP customers to meet the developers, architects and product owners that are focused on TREP and the greater ecosystem of real-time software.

It’s not just the Refinitiv subject matter experts doing the talking in the CAFs though.

We get so much valuable feedback from the CAF attendees on the work we’re doing at these events that help us shape the future of the platform.

Brian adds: “As others try to hitch their wagon to our train, they are building much of their tech on top of ours. But we embrace and encourage this through our open source APIs, protocols, and message model flows, because the competition in the market only ensures that we continue our focus and dedication to keep the product at the forefront.”

New and exciting use cases

With more CAF events planned throughout 2020, once the current pandemic is under control, this is where we will be showcasing our real-time reference architecture as well as laying out the next steps in moving towards our seamless, unified real-time service across deployed, private and public cloud services.

Given all of this, I’m excited for the future — both short term and long term — of the platform.

There is no better time to be working in this industry than when these disruptive events are making us re-think how we can better serve our customers, no matter where they are located and no matter what their new and exciting use cases demand.

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