Buy-Side Technology Awards 2014: Best Buy-Side Low-Latency Trading Network—CFN Services

Topics such as underground fiber and microwaves connecting market centers have caught the public’s imagination of late, although the average person is still oblivious to how much trading information is being zapped across nations in milliseconds. For CFN Services, though, the topic is old hat. The vendor’s work on interlaced circuits between New York and Chicago earned it a place at the top table of low-latency network providers, and with its Alpha Platform, it has cemented that reputation by winning the first ever award for the best buy-side low-latency trading network or environment.

To put it simply, speed still matters. Many are content to cite the speed-of-light issue, arguing that incremental speed gains cannot be justified commercially, especially the closer one gets to the speed of light, rendering the latency arms race dead, although there is still a definite appetite for shaving microseconds off round trips between datacenters and matching engines. Alpha Platform provides buy-side firms with ultra-low-latency market data, while allowing hyper-fast execution across liquidity venues and geographies. Its clientele includes a large percentage of the industry’s top high-frequency and proprietary trading firms, notorious for being the most technically adept and demanding capital markets clients.

Alpha Platform connects to over 70 datacenters throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia, while clients are given a high degree of customizability regarding routes, bandwidth and latency for data trips. Its co-location service gives latency-sensitive operations the option of being close to major exchange and liquidity pool matching engines, and allows for both primary and diverse routing strategies in a hub-and-spoke design, created to enhance network resiliency.

But many firms offer cabling and fast speeds. Where Alpha continues to lead the market is with its adaptation to new trends. Wireless connectivity is currently being incorporated within the platform in order to circumvent some of the traditional barriers to faster speeds using physical fiber for the entire route. It’s not just for trading, either. Alpha’s network also provides access through datacenters to application and cloud providers, creating a central hub that stretches across an organization’s infrastructure, if required.

As talk of a speed plateau permeates the industry, CFN continues to fine-tune and develop its own offering, making it an essential part of any high-speed operation, globally. The fact that it has been able to stand toe-to-toe with some of the industry’s biggest names, and seize the award in the inaugural year of this category, reinforces the impressive nature of the Alpha Platform.

Where Alpha continues to lead the market is with its adaptation to new trends. Wireless connectivity is currently being incorporated within the platform in order to circumvent some of the traditional barriers to faster speeds using physical fiber for the entire route.
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