Over the past two to three years financial services firms have gone from viewing hardware appliances as a curiosity to viewing them as a necessity. There are three key reasons that hardware has caught on:
- Performance — for high-volume, highly repetitive tasks, special-purpose chips such as FPGAs, network processors and GPU’s have consistently been shown to outperform software running on general purpose CPUs. For many use cases, especially relating to market data and trading, performance alone is enough of a justification to choose hardware.
- Simplicity — the turnkey nature of many appliances such as messaging middleware, ticker plants, monitoring tools and security enforcement is appealing to many firms. They are so much easier and less costly to procure, deploy and configure that firms can focus on what they do best instead of getting bogged down with implementation details.
- Low TCO — appliances can often do the work of many equivalent servers running software, which significantly reduces the overall cost of operating an application or infrastructure.
But let’s be honest: simplicity and low cost don’t grab headlines like performance. If you have the choice to read a story about “12% cost reduction” or one about “performance measured in nanoseconds“, which one are you going to read? This is the equivalent of a World Cup commentator trying to convince the casual fan that Ronaldo is a special soccer player because of his mid-field play, while all we want is to see him crush the ball into the top left corner. Performance is where the sex appeal is, and it’s where most appliances make their name.
With that background, I am pleased to welcome NovaSparks as a new Solace partner. NovaSparks makes a hardware ticker plant appliance that accelerates and simplifies the processing of data feeds, and a trade order book for distribution to a wide range of trading applications. Sure, like other kinds of appliances NovaSparks is easier than software ticket plants and features lower TCO, but it is their eye-popping performance that will get your attention.
Ticker plants usually plug into a messaging layer for distribution, so Solace and NovaSparks have defined an architecture for integrating our two products to help customers move one step closer to a uber-performant end-to-end solution. To extend my prior metaphor, connecting our two high-speed appliances is like England’s Defoe slicing the ball from the corner to a deftly redirected header from Rooney for a game winning gooooooooooaaaaaalllllll!!!