News

Cloud-Delivered Market Data for Institutional Users – A Reality Check

klangstaff@xignite.com

Read the article on A-Team Insight Blog

By Mike O’Hara, Special Correspondent

Cloud-delivered market data was once ‘over my dead body’ territory for institutional market data managers, who understandably fretted aloud about performance, security and licence compliance issues. But Covid-19 has forced those same data managers to confront the fact that many of their professional market data users are able to work from home (WFH), in turn driving financial firms to question whether the pandemic could be the catalyst for a rethink of their expensive-to-maintain market data infrastructures, with cloud part of the data delivery solution.

For many financial firms, today’s cloud delivery and hosting capabilities offer a viable solution for supporting trading and investment teams and their support staff, accelerating demand for cloud-based market data delivery infrastructures. The thinking is that cloud may help firms with their broader aim of reducing their on-premises technology and equipment footprint, a trend that was emerging even before the Coronavirus struck.

But embracing cloud delivery introduces new challenges for market data and trading technology professionals. While WFH will doubtless continue in some form, it’s far from clear that all market data delivery can be migrated to the cloud. Essential market data functions will remain on-premise. High-performance trading applications and low-latency market data connectivity, for example, will continue to rely on state-of-the-art colocation and proximity hosting data centres.

For many financial institutions, the challenge will be how to manage these several tiers of market data delivery and consumption. Going forward, practitioners will face a three-way hybrid of on-premises, cloud-based (private/public) and collocated market data services in order to support a range of users: from work-from-home traders and support staff to trading-room-based traders, analysts and quants, to collocated electronic applications like algorithms, smart order routers and FIX engines.

Indeed, A-Team will be discussing the infrastructure, connectivity and market data delivery challenges associated with cloud adoption in a webinar panel session on November 3. The webinar will offer a ‘reality check’ that discusses best practices for embracing cloud, colo and on-prem to support this new mix of user types, with emphasis on capacity, orchestration, licensing, entitlements and system / usage monitoring.

With firms’ appetite for exploring the potential of the cloud piqued, data managers are now looking at whether they can hope to take advantage of some of the more widely recognised benefits of the cloud – flexibility, agility, speed-to-market, scalability, elasticity, interoperability and so on – as they grapple with the future market data delivery landscape.

“Market data infrastructure, in terms of data vendor contracts, servers, and data centre space, typically represents a large, lumpy, cap ex expenditure”, says independent consultant Nick Morrison. “And so having the ability to transition that to something with costs that are more elastic, is highly attractive”.

Of course, every firm has its own unique requirements and nuances in this regard. Proprietary trading firms, asset managers, hedge funds, brokers and investment banks are all heavy consumers of market data. But the volume, breadth, depth and speed of the data they need in order to operate is highly diverse. Which means that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to sourcing and distribution mechanisms (including the cloud).

Market data and the cloud – what’s applicable?

As they consider their options for including cloud in their overall data delivery plans, data managers need to assess whether and how specific data types could be migrated to a hybrid environment: Level 1 (best bid/offer), level 2 (order book with aggregated depth at each price level) or level 3 (full order book)? Historic, end of day, delayed or real-time? Streaming or on-demand? This all has a bearing on the feasibility of cloud as a delivery mechanism.

Firms also need to consider their mix of public and private cloud, or what mix or hybrid cloud solution best fits their needs. What about virtualisation? Or internal use of cloud architecture, such as building a market data infrastructure around microservices and containers?

The marketplace already has identified at least one workable use-case: the use of historical, tick or time-series market data, usually to drive some form of analytics. A growing number of trading venues (such as ICE and CME) and service providers (Refinitiv, BMLL and others) now offer full level 3 tick data on a T+1 basis, delivered via the cloud. Plenty more providers can offer historic level 1 & 2 data.

This kind of capability can be used for critical use-cases, such as back-testing trading models for signal generation and alpha capture, performing transaction cost analysis (TCA), developing and testing smart order routers (SORs), or fine-tuning trading algos to better source liquidity. In all of these cases, cloud-hosted historical tick databases can reduce on-premises footprint and cost, while offering flexible access to vast computing resource on demand, and many are finding this compelling. “When churning through such vast quantities of data, having access to a cloud environment enables you to scale up horizontally to process that data”, says Elliot Banks, Chief Product Officer at BMLL.

Where things start to get more complicated, though, is with real-time market data, where two of the biggest hurdles from a cloud delivery perspective are speed and complexity.

Deterministic speed

From a trading standpoint, speed is always going to be a significant factor. Nobody, regardless of whether they’re an ultra-low latency high-frequency trading firm or a human trader dealing from a vendor or broker screen, wants to trade on stale prices. The tolerances may be different but the principle applies across the board.

It’s a safe bet that any firm currently receiving market data directly from a trading venue into a trading server (collocated at the venue’s data centre or hosted at a specialized proximity hosting centre operated by the likes of Interxion) relies on deterministic low latency, and is therefore unlikely to consider cloud as an alternative delivery mechanism.

Clearly, HFT firms with trading platforms that require microsecond-level data delivery won’t be replacing their direct exchange feeds and often hardware-accelerated infrastructure with the cloud, as the performance just isn’t there, for now at least. This, of course, could change if and when the trading venues themselves migrate to cloud platforms, creating a new kind of colocation environment, but that’s likely some way off. “But these guys only have a few applications that really need ultra-low latency data”, says Bill Fenick, VP Enterprise at Interxion. “Most of their applications, be they middle office, settlements or risk, they’re perfectly happy to take low-millisecond latency”.

And what about other market participants? Particularly those that currently make use of consolidated feeds from market data vendors, where speed is perhaps a secondary consideration? This is where cloud delivery may have some real potential. But it’s also where the issue of complexity rears its head.

Navigating the complexity

To deal with the myriad of sources, delivery frequencies, formats and vendor connections used to feed real-time market data into their trading, risk, pricing and analytics systems, many financial firms have built up a complex mesh of infrastructure that ensures the right data gets delivered to the right place at the right time. The integration layer required to handle these data inputs may be delivered as part of the data service or may stand alone as a discrete entity. In either case, it’s unrealistic to expect that all of this infrastructure can just be stripped out and replicated in a cloud environment.

To address this challenge, some service providers are starting to offer solutions where the source of the data is decoupled from the distribution mechanism, aiming for the holy grail where either, or both, can be cloud-based.

By building individual cloud-hosted microservices for sourcing market data, processing that data in a variety of ways, and delivering it into end-user applications, such solutions can help firms migrate their market data infrastructure incrementally from legacy to cloud-based platforms. Refinitiv is starting to shift much of its infrastructure onto AWS, and other specialist cloud-centric vendors such as Xignite and BCC Group also enable internal systems to be decoupled from data sources, thus facilitating a shift towards cloud-based infrastructure. “We believe the customer should be able to easily move from source to source and get as many sources as they want. The cloud enables this kind of flexibility”, says Bill Bierds, President & Chief Business Development Officer at BCC Group.

Firms have long wanted to become more vendor-agnostic by decoupling their data integration capability from the primary data source. One investment bank in London, for example, was able to decouple Refinitiv’s TREP platform from its Elektron data feed and switch to Bloomberg’s B-Pipe for its data, delivered via the TREP framework. From a market data perspective, this has given the bank more negotiating power and less vendor lock-in, opening up greater opportunities to utilise cloud-based market data sources in the future.

Permissioning and entitlements

Perhaps one of the toughest challenges that firms face around real-time market data on the cloud is that of entitlements and usage authorisation. Firms sourcing data from the two main data vendors, Refinitiv and Bloomberg, will generally be tied into their respective DACS and EMRS entitlements systems, often augmented by data inventory and contract management platforms like MDSL’s MDM or TRG Screen’s FITS and InfoMatch.

Entitlements can be a thorny subject when it comes to cloud-based distribution of market data. Firms are wary of falling foul of their licence agreements with their various data vendors, all of whom have different commercial considerations and penalties for non-compliance. This is why accurate tracking and reporting of market data access and usage is crucial.

The cloud can be a double-edged sword in this regard. One the one hand, transitioning from a dedicated infrastructure to the cloud might trigger extra licensing costs for what is effectively an additional data centre, so they may need to go through a period of paying twice for the same data. Indeed, firms may already be facing this situation as they entitle staff to operate from home while holding enterprise licences covering only their headquarters and regional offices.

On the other hand, cloud-based services such as those offered by Xignite and others can make it easier for firms to manage entitlements across multiple data vendors from a central source via a UI. “Our entitlements microservice is integrated with our real time microservice, to make sure that any distribution and any consumption of data is authenticated and entitled properly, so that only the right users have access to the data,” says Stephane Dubois, CEO of Xignite, whose microservices suite is supporting NICE Actimize’s cloud-based market data delivery infrastructure.

Where next?

With new products, services and technologies emerging all the time, firms can be optimistic about the growing opportunities that the cloud can offer for managing market data. One particularly interesting development worth watching is the rise of Low Code Application Platforms (LCAPs), such as that offered by Genesis, which provides a cloud-based microservices framework that can be used for rapidly developing and delivering applications around real-time market data. One example is on-demand margining. “A prime broker can link to all of its customers and know exactly what their risk positions are based on real-time market data, so within minutes, they can be sending out margin calls”, says Felipe Oliviera, Head of Sales and Marketing at Genesis.

Industry behemoths such as Refinitiv, SIX and FactSet are also embracing the cloud. Refinitiv has now launched delivery of market data via AWS, is making its tick history data available on Google Cloud and has also recently announced a partnership with Microsoft Azure. FactSet has launched a cloud-based ticker plant on Amazon EC2. And SIX is partnering with Xignite for real-time market data delivery via the cloud. Bloomberg is also partnering with AWS to make its B-Pipe data feed available through the cloud. And the main cloud vendors themselves – Amazon, Google and Microsoft – have established dedicated teams to develop these markets

In conclusion, it’s clear that there are a number of challenges that firms still face when transitioning any part of their market data infrastructure to the cloud. (To register for A-Team’s free webinar on the topic, click here.) And in many cases, particularly where ultra-low latency is required, cloud is not the answer. But equally, by migrating certain elements of their market data infrastructure to the cloud, cost savings can be achieved, efficiencies can be gained and firms can potentially do more with less.

RECENT NEWS

Xignite, Inc., a cloud-based market data distribution and management solutions provider for financial services and technology companies, announced a new Vendor of Record service for clients subscribing to real-time and delayed market data. The new service vastly simplifies the administration and reporting required by exchanges and often eliminates the need to pay redistribution fees, potentially saving clients thousands of dollars a month.

As an approved Vendor of Record, also called a Service Facilitator, Xignite can redistribute real-time and delayed equities and options pricing data from Nasdaq, New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Options Price Reporting Authority (OPRA), OTC Markets (OTCM), and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). 

Adhering to the complex compliance guidelines required by exchanges is extremely difficult for investment advisers, financial advisers, or order management software providers that need to display real-time or delayed data. Each exchange has its own unique set of regulations and compliance requirements, and clients need to prove that they have control over who receives the data, in what format, and for what use case. Xignite’s Vendor of Record service eliminates the administrative burden of tracking these complex compliance requirements.

The new service utilizes Xignite’s cloud-native Entitlements and Usage Microservices to give firms complete control and transparency of their data consumption and usage. Xignite provides data entitlements, usage tracking, and exchange reporting across various data sets, users, and applications to ensure exchange compliance. Xignite’s new service sometimes eliminates the need to pay expensive redistribution fees. Exchange fees for display data, regardless of the number of users, can cost upwards of $10,000 per month. These high fees are especially difficult for smaller financial firms with just a few real-time data users.  

“Maneuvering through the maze of required compliance policies, entitlements, usage tracking, and reporting requirements, and being subjected to frequent audits is no easy feat,” said Vijay Choudhary, Head of Product for Xignite. “Xignite’s mission is to “Make Market Data Easy.” Today’s announcement is another step towards this. We are taking away the administrative burdens and complexity of licensing market data and allowing our clients the freedom to focus on their investment and trading strategies and building innovative products.”

Xignite’s Vendor of Record service is available for professional users with internal and display-only use cases. The service is available now as an add-on service for subscribers of our real-time and delayed equities and options pricing data APIs. These include:

XigniteGlobalOptions

XigniteGlobalQuotes

XigniteGlobalRealTime

XigniteGlobalRealTimeOptions

XigniteNASDAQLastSale

About Xignite

Xignite has been disrupting the financial and market data industry from its Silicon Valley headquarters since 2003 when it introduced the first commercial REST API. Since then, Xignite has continually refined its technology to help Fintech and financial institutions get the most value from their data. Today, more than 700 clients access over 500 cloud-native APIs to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

09/21/2021

Xignite, Inc., a provider of cloud-based market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today introduced XigniteGlobalETFs, a new Cloud API providing advanced analytical and full holdings data for exchange-traded funds (ETFs) globally. The popularity of ETF investing has been going through the roof and, in 2021, has broken all previous records. ETF data is critical to Xignite's digital investment manager (robo-advisor) clients, such as Betterment and SoFi, and our trading and brokerage clients, such as Robinhood and eToro, who offer their users collections made primarily of specially chosen, low-fee ETFs.

One of the prime reasons for the dramatic increase is that ETFs have become virtually free to buy and sell thanks to innovative Fintech solutions powered by Xignite market data. Robo-advisors such as Personal Capital, SoFi, Wealthfront, and WealthSimple have helped make ETFs extremely popular as an easy, low-cost way to diversify their members' portfolios.

Zero-cost trading stock brokers like Robinhood have attracted investors that use ETFs as trading vehicles. As the ETF landscape evolves, it continues to democratize hard-to-access trading strategies for retail investors. This dramatic expansion, and the complexity of the ETF landscape, make it critical for our clients to have institutional quality data to integrate into their ETF-focused financial software and mobile applications. 

The new API offers daily and historical coverage of all listed ETFs in North America, Europe, and the largest Asian markets. Sourced from CFRA Research, one of the world's largest independent investment research firms, users can analyze underlying constituents across ETFs to quantify and compare sector, factor, and other risk exposures. The Xignite's Data Quality team cross-validates the ETF data across sources and proactively detects and fixes any missing information. 

"Inflows to ETFs have already set an annual record in 2021," says Vijay Choudhary, Vice President of Product Management for Xignite. "It is critical for our wealth management, trading, risk analysis, hedge fund, and other Fintech clients to have access to in-depth research on the ETF industry to make informed decisions on behalf of their clients," added Choudhary.

Xignite APIs are cloud-native and offer a robust selection of use case-based endpoints. These endpoints are ready-to-use pieces of code that developers can easily integrate into their product or app, regardless of type, amount, or frequency of data, without the need for any complex integration logic. The available XigniteGlobalETF endpoints are:

GetHoldings - Returns all holdings sorted by percentage portfolio weight for the specified date.

GetETFCharacteristics - Returns characteristics for one or many ETFs for the specified date.

GetVolatilityStatistics - Returns average volume and volatility at the specified date.

GetFundFlows - Returns fund flows for selected ETFs.

GetFundFlowsRange - Returns fund flows for a selected ETF across the specified time range.

GetHistoricalNAVs - Returns the historical NAVs for an ETF based on a start date and end date.

GetNAVs - Returns the closing NAV for one or more ETFs for the specified AsOfDate.

GetTrailingReturns - Returns trailing returns for one or many ETFs for the specified date.

SearchETFs - Returns a list of ETFs that match the search parameters.

 

About Xignite

Xignite has been disrupting the financial and market data industry from its Silicon Valley headquarters since 2003 when it introduced the first commercial REST API. Since then, Xignite has been continually refining its technology to help Fintech and financial institutions get the most value from their data. Today, more than 700 clients access over 500 cloud-native APIs and leverage a suite of specialized microservices to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

08/03/2021

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today revealed the results of its collaboration with Neeva, the world’s first ad-free, private subscription search engine. Neeva has built features to deliver information in a more user-friendly manner to a general audience. One new feature is a stock tracker, enabling users to look at stock prices based on different time intervals and other key data points. The stock tracker is powered by Xignite financial data. Click HERE to download the case study containing the full results.

Neeva’s stock tracker requires significant quantities of high-quality market data to function. The company initially enlisted a legacy data provider but quickly ran into issues with data and API quality. Neeva needed to integrate quickly and required fast and reliable financial data. After a trial and receiving a recommendation from another client, Neeva identified Xignite as a provider capable of delivering large quantities of market data in a comprehensive and developer-friendly manner. 

“We were impressed by Xignite and committed to them following a successful trial,” said Stephanie Chang, Head of Marketing at Neeva. “The main factors that drew us to Xignite were the consistency of their stock ticker coverage and the granularity of their time-series ticker data, as well as the speed and reliability as well as the speed and reliability of their API,” added Chang.

Integration of the Xignite financial data APIs into Neeva’s stock widget took less than two weeks, and Neeva noticed immediate results in terms of breadth, detail, and API quality. Powered by Xignite’s global quotes and global historical APIs. Neeva presents its users with rich and desirable views of key data points for a huge variety of stocks. Users can use a time-based filtration mechanism to drill into metrics like open price, daily highs, and lows, 52-week highs and lows, volume, and market cap. 

“Xignite’s vision is to Make Market Data Easy. With our industry leading technology combined with Neeva’s user friendly search engine we have done just that,” said Stephane Dubois, CEO and Founder of Xignite. “We look forward to continuing our work with Neeva as they disrupt the search engine marketplace.” 

About Xignite

Xignite has been disrupting the financial and market data industry from its Silicon Valley headquarters since 2006, when it introduced the first commercial REST API. Since then, Xignite has been continually refining its technology to help fintech and financial institutions get the most value from their data. Today, more than 700 clients access over 500 cloud-native APIs and leverage a suite of specialized microservices to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite

About Neeva

Neeva is the world’s first ad-free, private subscription search engine. Neeva focuses entirely on the consumer, delivering only real, high-quality, trustworthy results. Neeva blocks third-party website trackers and will never sell or share customer data with any third party, especially advertisers. Neeva also makes it easy to search within personal email accounts, calendars, and cloud storage platforms surfacing the most important information from the same familiar search box. Neeva was founded by former executives from Google and YouTube. Learn more and sign up at Neeva.com.

07/15/2021

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, announced today it has enhanced the data coverage for its’ interbanks and interest rates APIs in preparation for the required transition from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) benchmark interest rate at the end of 2021.

Used in financial products such as adjustable-rate mortgages, consumer loans, credit cards and derivatives, LIBOR has been the world's most widely used benchmark for short-term rates. But after the 2008 financial crisis the U.S. Federal Reserve recommended a new benchmark interest rate to replace the outdated and problematic LIBOR. In the U.S market the new benchmark is Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR), which is based on transactions in the U.S. Treasury repurchase, or repo, market, where banks and investors borrow or lend Treasuries overnight. Other countries are introducing their own local-currency-denominated alternative reference rates for short-term lending.

Xignite banking, and Fintech customers that build apps for capital markets, investment management, financing, and foreign currency exchange purposes, require interbank and interest rates data to manage exchange and interest rate risk. Xignite enhanced its Interbanks and Rates APIs with SOFR earlier this year and has now added four of the alternative overnight risk-free rates (RFRs) recommended to replace LIBOR for currencies in respective markets. The new rates include Euro Short-Term Rate (ESTR), Swiss Reference Rates (SARON), Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA), and Tokyo Overnight Average Rate (TONAR). These additional rates are available now at no additional cost to customers.

“Our rates and InterBanks APIs were the first REST APIs ever released to serve the needs of the lending and banking industries. They uniquely aggregate rates that are used by dozens of firms globally in critical business processes,” said Vijay Choudhary, Vice President of Product Management for Xignite “Given the major shift the industry is experiencing regarding reference rates, it was critical for us to support those new rates to give our clients the data they need to run their businesses,” added Choudhary.

Xignite’s Interbanks API offers real-time and historical interbank and deposit rates for currencies in 40 countries. Xignite’s Interest Rates API provides interest rate data for over 600 global treasury, money market and private capital market instruments and benchmarks. The new alternative T+1 (24hr+ delayed) rates include:

  •         Europe: Euro Short-Term Rate (ESTR) is an interest rate benchmark that reflects the overnight borrowing costs of banks within the eurozone. The rate is calculated and published by the European Central Bank.
  •         Switzerland: Swiss Reference Rates (SARON) represents the overnight interest rate of the secured money market for Swiss francs (CHF). The rate is calculated and published by SIX.
  •         United Kingdom: Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA) is the effective overnight interest rate paid by banks for unsecured transactions in the British sterling.
  •         Japan: Tokyo Overnight Average Rate (TONAR) is an unsecured interbank overnight interest rate and reference rate for the Japanese yen. The rate is calculated and published by the Bank of Japan.

About Xignite

Xignite has been disrupting the financial and market data industry from its Silicon Valley headquarters since 2006, when it introduced the first commercial REST API. Since then, Xignite has been continually refining its technology to help fintech and financial institutions get the most value from their data. Today, more than 700 clients access over 500 cloud-native APIs and leverage a suite of specialized microservices to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

06/09/2021