Reflecting a cost-conscious environment where Web-deployments are preferable over traditional data distribution systems, Prudential Securities signed a global- licensing agreement with PFS TraderTools LLC (PFS) to distribute real-time streaming data to customers of its over-the- counter foreign-exchange business, worldwide. Prudential is licensing two PFS products: DS2000 Publish-Subscribe messaging technology as well as Trillian, a patent-pending data tunneling technology, that delivers real-time streaming data over the standard http Internet protocol, without requiring firms to download Java applets or open ports on their corporate firewall.
"Because of the nature of our business, we end up going across a lot of corporate firewalls. The (tunneling) technology that Trillian has, enables us to stream prices in real-time without having to go through the engineering hassles that I've experienced before," says Scott Mehlman, first vice president and manager of technology at Prudential Securities, Inc.
Prudential, currently is in a proof-of-concept-stage building screens but expects to go into live production in the fourth quarter.
"We decided to go with this application because it really compressed the time to do it for us," says Mehlman. "We didn't have to go and develop software to take in these various sources of data and create screens and pump out HTML," he adds.
Prudential is using the products to redistribute multiple sources of proprietary data to its clients. Prudential is delivering streaming real-time market prices, calculated FX and money market rates as well as the ability to publish research notes and commentaries. "We have market commentary, for instance, or market pricing that we gather from a variety of sources and we pump them into this engine, this middleware, if you will, and redistribute it out to a browser," he explains. Calling it "the flavor of the month," Mark Mayerfeld, PFS's executive vice president of sales, says that most of its customers want to publish their own data. "That's very popular," he says, adding that writing a new-data source to the DS2000 is very easy, taking a few days as long as they have an API application-programming interface to the source." DS2000 currently handles about 25 different data sources, and PFS writes to new-data sources all the time. The way it works, is that DS2000, the publish and subscribe technology, manages the different data sources and publishes them to a Trillian page, says Mayerfeld.
In addition, PFS, which has a background in trader tools, is unique, in that it handles varied sources of data and can apply algorthims to them for pricing and for creating spread prices, calculate forwards and ladders. "But outside of a trading context, those are valuable tools as well just to disseminate information to our clients," says Mehlman, who previously worked with PFS's trader tools--Limit Sentry, an FX order management system and DS2000 (formerly Data Server), as the real-time pricing engine behind it. Mehlman also praised PFS for providing "top-notch support."
Still, it was the ability to deliver real-time streaming-market data through any browser using the http protocol was an important factor in the decision to select PFS, says Mehlman. After looking at other technologies" that kind of fit the bill," Mehlman, who declined to mention other products he considered, says, "PFS really delivered the best solution at the best price." According to Mayerfeld, "People are looking now to provide Web deployments of market data in order to cut down on infrastructure costs." Both products, DS 2000 and Trillian, which work hand in glove together, can be an alternative to installing third-party data distribution systems like TIBCO and TRIARCH which are far more costly, harder to develop with and require longer lead times, Mayerfeld notes. "If a firm has branches all over, instead of putting in a full TIB or TRIARCH infrastructure, I can provide a Web deployment," says Mayerfeld. A firm still has to pay data costs to the vendors, but wouldn't have the full cost of supporting a hardware infrastructure in a branch and obviously maintaining it from a central, Web-based location is lot easier, he says. Another issue is that most people who are trying to stream real-time data through the Web are using Java applets, notes Mayerfeld. "First of all banks, don't want to put them in because they're maintenance nightmares," he says, adding that financial institutions are trying to stay away from downloads, and asking their corporate customers to open ports behind their firewall involves the IT department and is a security risk. This avoids that.
"It makes it a lot smoother for our customers, where you don't have to get the network engineering people involved," adds Mehlman. Generally, this would not require anything other than an Internet browser regardless of what kind of firewall you're behind," he says. Prudential will use the middleware in its primary locations, New York, Chicago and London, but it can use it anywhere where it has branches, says Mehlman. The product will be fully-deployed across its internal network of financial advisers as well as externally to any client that has a browser. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio