Financial Technology Laboratories, Inc (FTLabs) is a technology vendor for the fixed income securities markets – providing software and service solutions for the common problems facing sell-side fixed income broker-dealers such as liquidity management, quote distribution, RFQ distribution and aggregation, order management, execution management, market data feed integration, electronic trading integration, regulatory compliance, and trade reporting integration.
Fixed Income Trading Technology
FTLabs has taken steps to address several of the pain points associated with building and using a highly integrated and functional software system. An integration platform-as-a-server (IPaaS) called BondHub was built to manage and host all the necessary vendor data messaging integrations. A local application server, BondPub-WS, was built to provide secure and lightning-fast data delivery over the public or private internet to the trader workstations running the BondPub fixed income trading application. And, a highly functional and responsive Windows application was developed to provide traders with the best experience possible for their day-to-day workflow.
For the central integration hub – BondHub – new client onboarding doesn’t require the installation of any new hardware and only rarely required any software development. The client chooses from the existing ATS, clearing, and other vendors integrations, and the FTLabs team will configure the system and coordinate any client-specific integration tasks with the 3rd party vendor. For electronic trading integration with an ATS, for instance, this usually just involves agreeing with the ATS on the configuration, client identifiers, and schedule for starting trading. The data messaging connections are already in place between BondHub and the most popular ATSs and clearing vendors.
Next, the FTLabs local application server component – BondPub_WS (Web Services) – is installed on the client’s network or on the client’s cloud services at AWS, Azure, etc. This component handles all of the data persistence and the data communication between BondHub and the users that are running the BondPub application on their workstations. BondPub_WS persists all of the data generated in an instance of Microsoft SQL Server database to ensure sensitive client information never leaves the firm’s control or premises as can happen with some web-hosted systems. Real-time, bi-directional, data connectivity is established between BondPub_WS and each instance of the BondPub application using a robust communication technology called SignalR. The FTLabs onboarding team is always available to help with BondPub installation of the server or client in any way needed.
Microsoft Windows Integration
Finally, the BondPub user interface is installed as a Microsoft Windows application on the personal workstation of each trader or other user using Microsoft ClickOnce technology.
In the past, some of the management issues that came along with Microsoft Windows applications and with the Microsoft Windows Installer caused developers to decide to create Web applications instead of Windows-based applications – sacrificing a rich and responsive user interface for ease of installation.
FTLabs built the BondPub fixed-income trading platform application to use a Microsoft deployment technology called ‘ClickOnce’ to create a self-updating Window application that can be installed and run with minimal user interaction. By using ClickOnce, the BondPub application can provide the best of both technologies – responsiveness and rich interface of a Windows application with the ease of deployment of a Web app.
ClickOnce overcomes three major deployment issues with traditional Windows Installer deployment and installed Windows applications:
- Solves Difficulties in Updating the application – With ClickOnce deployment, we can provide BondPub updates to the trader’s workstations automatically and securely over the internet (using HTTPS) from your firm’s BondPub_WS server or the FTLabs servers. Only the parts of the application that have changed are downloaded and then the complete updated application is reinstalled from a new side-by-side folder. This allows BondPub to be quickly and easily downloaded, deployed, and updated on a remote workstation.
- Lower Impact to the User’s Computer – ClickOnce makes deployments of BondPub self-contained so that they don’t interfere with other applications or rely on installing or updating shared components.
- Minimizes Security Permissions – Administrative permissions are not required. ClickOnce deployment enabled non-administrative users to install and grants only those Code Access Security permissions necessary for the application.
Especially in the time of work-from-home, making deployment and application updates for traders working remotely is extremely important. ClickOnce is just one of the tools that FTLabs has adopted to ease this burden on traders and on the IT staff.