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3/28/2011
05:34 PM
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Tibco FTL Speeds Capital Market Messaging

'Faster Than Light' middleware breaks the microsecond barrier. But will the latency advantage last?

The spoils on Wall Street go to those who can access trade data and react to market movements faster than the competition.

Tibco Software claims its new FTL (Faster Than Light) messaging middleware, released on Monday, is more than 40% faster than any competing product currently on the market.

Just how fast is FTL? Average application latency is 384 nanoseconds for intra-host communication and 3.1 microseconds for inter-host communication.

Applications calling for these sorts of speeds include high-speed data handling for capital markets, data distribution to front-office and back-office operations, trade execution, algorithmic trading, and risk management and compliance.

How does the technology gain its speed advantage? One part of the story is taking advantage of the latest technologies, including Intel Westmere multi-core processors, in-memory architectures and networking options such as Infiniband and 10 Gigabit Ethernet. But any vendor can exploit these options; so how long could a dependent competitive advantage last when Tibco has competitors including, most significantly, IBM?

Tibco says the other part of FTL's speed advantage is tied to an all-new content-based addressing approach that will be hard to match, much less surpass. In contrast to subject-based addressing, which requires utility code at the front and back of each message in a stream, the content approach encodes destination information right into the data payload itself, reducing data volumes and, therefore, the latency of the platform.

"This is a major innovation for this product, it is patent pending, and it's a radical departure from existing approaches," says Rajeev Kozhikkattuthudi, Tibco's messaging product marketing manager.

There's more to Tibco's upgrade than raw speed. Centralized management capabilities and hot-pluggable transports are said to speed upgrade and maintenance activities and reduce costly system downtime. Out-of-band metadata management lets administrators centrally define message formats and data distribution paths without changing applications.

Despite new content-based approach, Tibco says FTL can be plugged into existing environments without rip-and-replace scenarios. For example, FTL offers native integration with Tibco Rendezvous and the Tibco Messaging Appliance P-7500.

Now generally available, FTL was originally announced in May 2010 and has been in development for 18 months.

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