Data Channel: Here They Come to Save the Data!

Vicki Chan, Deputy Editor, Inside Market Data

Faster than the speed of light! More powerful than a thousand servers! Able to leap the competition in a single bound! Look! In your infrastructure! It's a ticker plant! It's an analytics engine! No, it's... it's... well, there are really a combination of systems, all working together. After all, even superheroes find themselves working in teams -- or with a sidekick -- to battle the forces of evil, whether it's latency, erroneous data, an algorithm gone awry or a complete technical meltdown.

Let's consider the Fantastic Four of data provider QuantHouse, datacenter provider Interxion, consultancy GreySpark Partners and network provider TMX Atrium, which have banded together to launch a new initiative, dubbed Leading in a Time of Change. Together, this team of vendors will provide consulting services to banks to help them solve their technology and market data challenges.

In other alliances announced last week, interdealer broker Icap joined forces with Rapid Ratings to create a credit derivatives rating service, while NYSE Technologies is collaborating with Bolsa Mexicana de Valores and Americas Trading Group to boost access to the Mexican markets, with services including the delivery of BMV market data over NYSE Technologies' SFTI (Secure Financial Transaction Infrastructure) network.

Meanwhile, Thomson Reuters has partnered with energy data provider Genscape -- which employs thermal imaging and other patented technology to capture data such as heating and cooling events at oil refineries -- to strengthen the commodities data on its Eikon desktop, adding alerts that track the operational status of oil refineries, which can impact prices.

And who wouldn't like a tool that gives them a glimpse into the future? Options analytics provider Option Research and Technology Services is looking to deliver just that, with the launch of its PreCA (Predicted Cost Analysis) service that estimates on a pre-trade basis the cost of options trades and the fills traders can expect to get. Layered on top of their back-testing service, which helps clients fine-tune their trading strategies and find the best trades, then in highest volatility, in lowest liquidity, no opportunities shall escape ORATS's sight.

Whether looking at the future, present or past, having precise time is crucial when it comes to algorithmic trading. FSMLabs has developed the TimeKeeper GrandMaster Clock appliance to provide users not only with precision time, but also resilience through its automatic monitoring and cross-checking of time sources, as well as the ability to switch automatically between time sources as one fails.

Over at Markit, a new suite of factors have been launched to help portfolio managers and analysts track short interest for stocks, using data from its Markit Securities Finance group -- formed following the vendor's acquisition of securities lending data provider Data Explorers in April. Not only do these factors support short-selling decisions, but they can also provide a warning sign for long-only investors that a stock's price is about to implode. Furthermore, the vendor's Data Analytics and Research group is also developing algos to strip out the impact of arbitrage strategies so that its factors can be a pure representation of short interest. So who knows what short interest lurks in the hearts of investors? Markit knows.

Gnodal may have gotten its start in high-performance computing, with its earliest clients in scientific research labs, so maybe it was the exposure to nuclear research that gave its switches the ability to process small frames in 150 nanoseconds, proving that with great power comes great response times. With this speed, Gnodal has piqued the interest of the most latency-sensitive traders, and is beefing up its sales force in its home base in the UK as well as in New York and Chicago to target financial services firms and exchanges.

Regardless of what technology firms deploy in their trading infrastructure, ultimately, the aim is to make it the best there is at what it does. Now, if only putting together a trading infrastructure could be as simple as shouting, "Infrastructure assemble!"

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