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How Our Customers Excelled

Breakwater Trading

BreakwaterConnecting multiple Excel users in Chicago and New York

The Problem Definition

Breakwater Trading has trading operations in New York and Chicago, with more than 100 traders and managers working at all locations. The use of real-time market data and analytics is crucial to maximize profitability from these traders, so when it became time to upgrade their current infrastructure, Breakwater looked for a solution that would increase performance, while at the same time be quick and easy to implement.

“All of our traders need to see real-time analytical data derived from proprietary models running at our Chicago office,” said Darek Potchebout, Director of Technology and Operations at Breakwater. “Each user needs to be free to use the data in their own Excel applications, so we needed a solution based on the distribution of real-time data, rather than on the sharing of the spreadsheets themselves.”

The Solution

After searching the web for available solutions, they contacted Skkynet. Skkynet offered VINE™ as a peer-to-peer networking solution and the Breakwater team embarked on a small pilot project to evaluate the software and see how it would be received by the traders themselves. The new system was built around a primary VINE instance running on an office server in Chicago, which collected real-time data from a number of sources. The data was mirrored to a number of other VINE instances, including a relay in New York that acted as the central server for data distribution on that local area network. Each Trader ran VINE on their workstations, which allowed them to simply drag and drop the live data into their spreadsheets.

Breakwater saw the potential of VINE software almost immediately. “We set up a small system with one of our traders in New York and in 15 minutes we got an email back saying he thought it was amazing,” said Alex Forkosh, manager of the pilot project team. “The update cycle between New York, Chicago and back to New York was reduced from around a minute with our old Linux system, to less than a second using VINE.”

The team ran the DataHub with a few more traders for a full month, and found the performance and stability of the software surpassed their expectations. Darek then decided to go ahead and expand the system to include more traders in both New York and Chicago. “So far, we’ve seen no reduction in performance as we bring on more users, and the conversion to VINE is going very smoothly,” he said. “We’ll probably add the rest of our traders over the next month or two.”

“We are pleased that Breakwater was able to see such a dramatic boost in performance,” said Paul Benford, COO at Skkynet. “This is just one example of how VINE makes it easy to share real-time data between remote Excel users on a network or Internet connection.”

Skkynet develops middleware products for the financial and industrial process control markets. Skkynet VINE is being used to share real-time data for trading and financial companies around the world.

abFutures, Ltd. - Auckland, New Zealand

Collaborative Decision Making using Excel

Allan Barrow, Managing Director of abFutures, Ltd. was looking for a way to build a more effective work environment for his team of money market traders when setting up a new office in Auckland, New Zealand. The goal was to provide a team of five traders with real-time analysis results being generated on an Excel server. The Excel applications on the server were receiving live market data from an outside information feed over the Internet. Real-time performance was another requirement, which necessitated the purchase of high-end 64 bit Windows servers and Windows XP based workstations.

An Internet Search Turns up the Answer

After studying the problem of how to get live data out of his Excel server applications and into the workstations spreadsheets, Allan decided to hire a programmer and they attempted to use DCOM as the transport layer between his networked applications. Unfortunately, this approach just kept running into a series of frustrating technology problems and that’s when Allan turned to Google in the hope of finding an answer.

Skkynet VINE shares Excel Data, Quickly and Easily

Allan’s search results pointed him at Skkynet’s web site. A short time later, he downloaded the demo version of Skkynet VINE. Not long after that we got a phone call from Allan who had a couple of questions, which were easily answered and he was soon testing the software with money market data from the European and US exchanges.

The Solution Was Simple

In the end Allan installed Skkynet VINE on his Excel Server and configured his spreadsheet to send data to VINE whenever analysis results were calculated. On each of the workstations, VINE was installed and configured to connect to the VINE instance on the Excel Server. Whenever new data arrived at the Excel Server, it was immediately sent to all VINE instances using the standard TCP/IP network protocol.

On the workstation side, getting the data out of VINE and into Excel was as simple as dragging and dropping the point name into the appropriate location in the spreadsheet.

abFutures, Ltd. are now running a collaborative network where real-time Excel analysis results are shared between multiple traders. The software solution is fast, robust and was easy to install and operate.

Skkynet develops middleware products for the financial and industrial process control markets. Skkynet VINE is being used to share real-time data for trading and financial companies around the world.

Aspire Technology - Sydney, Australia

Collaborative decision making over the Internet

Aspire Technology were asked by one of their brokerage firm clients to come up with a way for their traders to see current bid/offer pricing information for a number of different energy products. The brokerage firm operates from three locations, two in Sydney and one in Melbourne, Australia. The project required the traders at these locations to all see the same data, in real-time, with no propagation delays or impact on performance.

Commodity prices are collected by an Excel application running on an office server computer, which also performs real-time analysis on the incoming data.

Using the Internet to Share Excel Data, Quickly and Easily

After searching the Internet for possible solutions, Aspire downloaded and installed the demo version of Skkynet VINE™. Soon after that, they had a working demo up and running and moved ahead with implementation of the final system. This involved installing VINE on the Excel server in the office and also on each of the trader’s workstations.

Skkynet provided assistance with some custom Excel programming so the traders could easily spot important changes in the data and react accordingly. Aspire extended the spreadsheet to allow text notes to be entered for each client so that the brokers have a communications log and an understanding of each client’s requirements, even if they don’t talk with that client directly.

Skkynet develops middleware products for the financial and industrial process control markets. Skkynet VINE is being used to share real-time data for trading and financial companies around the world.

WallScott Solutions - Chicago, USA

Wireless Excel Data Distribution

The Problem Definition

A Chicago based financial company trading on the Chicago Board of Trade needed a way to present traders on the exchange floor with the results of real-time Excel analysis being generated back at the corporate office.

WallScott were asked to find a solution that would allow the traders to see the results of the analysis while they worked in the trading pit on the exchange.

Simple, Fast Installation, Drag and Drop Configuration

WallScott Solutions installed Skkynet VINE™ on the back-office server to collect the real-time analysis results from the Excel application. VINE was installed on each of the tablet computers and configured to access data from VINE on the back-office server over the Internet.

WallScott helped the customer drag and drop live data from VINE into the spreadsheets on the tablet computers. With these spreadsheets now displaying live Excel analysis results, the traders are able to make faster, more effective trade decisions.

The customer is now looking to expand the system to provide traders with the ability to sit at home and trade commodities on other world markets, right from their home or tablet computers.

Skkynet develops middleware products for the financial and industrial process control markets. Skkynet VINE is being used to share real-time data for trading and financial companies around the world.

Leading Energy Trader - London, UK

Sharing real-time brokerage data between networked Excel users

The Problem Definition

Analysts at a London-based energy brokerage use Excel to perform real-time modeling on market data from various sources. Recently they were faced with the challenge of collecting the results of this market analysis and making it available to more people in the company, so that they could fully utilize the information it contained.

“We had a lot of information flying around the office which needed to be assimilated and made readily available for the benefit of everyone,” said the company’s IT Manager, who was assigned the task of finding a solution. He realized that what they needed to do was link all the Excel spreadsheets through a real-time database, so that each user had access to the results being generated by everyone else, in addition to the market data they were currently reading.

The ideal solution would mean:

  • No disruptive changes in software for the users, they continue to work with Excel as before
  • Instantaneous delivery of live market data and Excel results to everyone on the network
  • Minimal hardware requirements

The Solution

With these requirements in mind, the IT Manager searched the Internet and found Skkynet VINE™. “VINE is a simple concept which leads to a simple implementation,” he said. “We are using it to move a large amount of data around with no impact on the end users, but with a massive benefit for people needing this data readily available.”

The manager first installed Skkynet VINE on the server computer and connected it to the Excel application that was reading market data from the various sources. Then he installed the DataHub on each of the end users’ computers and configured them to connect back to the DataHub running on the central server. Connecting these DataHubs meant that the data on the central server was now mirrored across the network to each of the end users’ computers. It was then a simple task to configure the end users’ Excel applications to read and write data to the local DataHub. The end result is that any data change generated by the spreadsheets is mirrored across the network to the central DataHub, where it is instantly mirrored back out to all the other Excel applications.

“In our initial testing we have been running the system with multiple users all making regular changes to live price analysis and algorithms,” said a company spokesman. “We have set up numerical arrays which in turn pass this data to VINE for assimilation and distribution throughout the office.”

“The next step is to extend the reach of the data to more positions, and provide more data content,” he continued. “Then we are looking at storing the historical data for retrospective analysis.”

Skkynet VINE is well suited to this forward-looking vision. It scales well—the number of simultaneous connections, data volume, and throughput speed are limited only by available system resources. For connectivity, VINE functions equally well across a LAN, WAN, or the Internet. And for archiving data, VINE offers connectivity to any ODBC-compliant database, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, DB2, Sybase, Foxpro, and many more.

Skkynet develops middleware products for the financial and industrial process control markets. Skkynet VINE is being used to share real-time data for trading and financial companies around the world.

Global Trading Company - Europe

Sharing real-time trade data between networked Excel users

The Problem Definition

For many years, a European based global trading company has been using proprietary Excel models to make trading decisions based on real-time market data.

Recently, this company decided it wanted to distribute the execution orders produced by their Excel models to more of the traders on their corporate network. They looked for a solution that would allow them to share the results of the real-time Excel analysis, rather than running the actual proprietary models on each of the trader’s workstations.

The advantages of this approach are:

  • Transmitting just the actual trade signals, rather than sharing a view of the Excel models is much faster and consumes far less network bandwidth
  • By centralizing the analysis on secure office servers and sharing just the results, the company is able to protect their proprietary information and at the same time, implement easier revision control and system maintenance
  • Locating the real-time analysis on a central server also frees system resources on the trader’s workstations allowing their local Excel applications to run more smoothly

The Solution

The company’s search lead them to Skkynet’s web site where they downloaded the demo version of VINE™. “The demo software was easy to install and allowed us to put together a prototype system up in just a few days,” said the IT Manager in charge of the project.

Using Skkynet VINE, the company was able to quickly set up a system that distributed real-time trade signals to the trader’s worksheets, where they were used to direct trading operations.

Initially, the company ran VINE in demo mode for an hour at a time, during the busiest trading times, to fully test the speed and reliability of the system. “Running in demo mode we were able to prove the performance of the system using live market data. The results were very good and the support we got from Skkynet was excellent,” said the IT Manager. “Once we had everything set up, we just installed the licenses to unlock the demo. We’re very pleased with the results and we’ll be looking to use VINE to expand our network of traders in the future.”

Skkynet develops middleware products for the financial and industrial process control markets. Skkynet VINE is being used to share real-time data for trading and financial companies around the world.