Microservices - The New Building Blocks of Financial Technology

May 6, 2016

In these days of ever-increasing regulation, managing risk is a difficult task at the best of times. Over the years, I have seen the pain firms experience when attempting to integrate disparate systems and streamline front-to-back processes.  There is evidence that, managed properly, a holistic approach to risk management pays off. In contrast, maintaining multiple systems is complex and consequently can be costly and often inadequate.  

By Marc Adler, Chief Architect, Quantifi

 

The increasing impact of emerging regulations, market unease and internal pressures have heightened the attention on risk technology and operations. With the traditional segmented approach to risk management no longer suitable, the application of integrated risk management is fast becoming best practice. Risk technology is undergoing its next wave of innovation with a new breed of single integrated solutions. With a focus on reducing costs and a desire to consolidate positions in as few systems as possible, firms are moving towards a more balanced, business aligned, and risk based strategy. In an ideal setting, end-users are favouring trading, portfolio management, risk, and analytics contained within a single platform, maintained by a single vendor, with one point-of-contact for support.

Quantifi’s single solution for risk, analytics and trading provides rich functionality spanning multiple asset classes. Built on the latest version of Microsoft .NET and C#, Quantifi is an extensible platform that provides full front office to back office functionality.

microservices - A winning paradigm

A key question we are often asked when engaging with our clients is “How can we leverage Quantifi and realise our value add without significant infrastructure change?” and the implied onerous costs that would go with that route.

At Quantifi our philosophy is to look for ways to best leverage new technologies. A key focus for the past 12 months has been to make Quantifi more open and flexible by separating out our architecture into microservices - essentially small, API-accessible, single-purpose components. A microservices architecture promotes developing, testing, deploying and managing of applications composed of autonomous self-contained components built around system functionality, with each running its own process. This latest initiative is fundamentally different from the way traditional applications are designed, developed and deployed. A Microservices Architecture (MSA) allows Quantifi functionality to be consumed in different ways that are most applicable to our client’s unique business requirements.

 


 

In the mid- to long-term, we expect that the smart evolution, utilization and deployment towards MSA will be one of the bedrocks for the future evolution of front office, risk, and compliance systems innovation.

Cubillas Ding, Research Director, Quantifi


 

Cloud Enabled

Cloud is a key enabler to reduce the complexity of building, implementing and operating microservices. Quantifi’s cloud-service fabric helps connect and reliably serve various services to our clients, making applications more manageable, reliable and scalable.

Responsive to Change

The move to a MSA allows Quantifi to push new functionality out to clients more rapidly. Some of the key benefits to our clients include reduced disruption on their side, a faster time to market and ultimately an overall lower total cost of ownership. Improvements to individual services can also be deployed independently of the rest of the system and therefore not require a complete system upgrade. If a problem was to occur, it can be isolated to an individual component and be swapped out without impacting other services. This reduces the operational impact and lowers the level of support required. Components within a MSA are loosely coupled, making them more flexible and responsive to change.

Integration

Integration is one of the most important aspects of technology associated with microservices. Since microservices operate at a granular level, Quantifi can offer services on an a-la-carte basis so clients can select different services. These chosen services can be seamlessly integrated to coexist with a client’s existing framework to form a holistic system. This is important for a number of our larger clients who only want to replace specific functionality without the need to ‘rip and replace’ their entire system.

Scalability

With a MSA we have gained significant benefits around reliability, ease of modification and scalability. Quantifi currently supports horizontal scalability (by the use of the Microsoft HPC compute grid) and vertical scalability (by support of multi-core processing). Unlike a layered architecture where you have to scale everything together, with a MSA each individual component can be scaled separately.

Messaging

Another interesting feature of a MSA is messaging. JMS-based messaging and REST are two ways that applications can communicate with the Quantifi services. These are open standards supported by different programming languages. A customer can write an application in C#, C++, Java, or Python. There is no requirement for a customer to know C# and Microsoft .NET in order to interface with a Quantifi service thus avoiding the need to add additional resources or skill sets.

Advantages of a MSA

  • Flexible and responsive to change as each loosely coupled service is independent
  • Easier deployment as each service is autonomous
  • High scalability – can be scaled to enhance performance if demand for a particular service increases
  • Easy and flexible integration with minimal disruption to business processes and systems
  • Improves system resilience - failure of a component can be identified and fixed without impacting other services

 

Quantifi is very excited to roll out its MSA as it will radically change how we build and deliver our technology. Separating our architecture into microservices has reshapd how we serve our clients, but more so, it underlines how we are going-to-market to help clients navigate the most pressing issues ahead and realizing ROI from their technology.

 

Read full article here: The New Building Blocks of Financial Technology by Marc Adler, Chief Architect, Quantifi


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