As it comes to terms with its new ownership under Blackstone Group, Refinitiv is continuing apace with its long-stated aim of incorporating cloud into its delivery options for the trading environment. Acknowledging that not all trading-related data and activities are appropriate for cloud, the company is deep into its programme to offer cloud delivery where it provides value to the client.
According to Marion Leslie, managing director of the Enterprise business at Refinitiv, home to the company’s Elektron delivery platform, real-time data feed services, tick data and analytics services, and the former Thomson Reuters Enterprise Platform (TREP): “Our goal is that clients should be able to access all the data and services they need in whichever cloud they prefer. Cloud allows us to provide a menu of data and services that is not bound by products. We can present pieces of capability and content that clients can choose from, rather than giving them everything.”
Within the enterprise group, market data is a core deliverable, and the company has made great strides in making its market data services available in the cloud. Leslie says this development – and the appetite for cloud delivery on the client side – represents a change in mindset from just a couple of years ago, when security, control and cost concerns precluded discussion of making market data available through the cloud.
But while the mindset has changed, she says not all market data is appropriate for cloud delivery. “You won’t find algo trading in the cloud,” she comments, adding that she sees ongoing need for on-premise solutions for low latency data delivery in support of electronic trading.
That said, firms are increasingly exploring the use of cloud to handle processing of large data sets in support of their trading activities. An example of this approach might involve analysing a large cloud-hosted database to identify trading opportunities, then transmitting trigger signals to the appropriate trading model located on premises, in a third-party optimised data centre or at a colocation facility.
To match the agility presented by private/public/hybrid cloud delivery, Leslie says Refinitiv is taking a more flexible approach to commercial arrangements, particularly where a specific solution calls for a mix of data types and delivery models. A good example could be Refinitiv’s solution for the Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB), where the client solution may involve a mix of historical tick data, pricing and valuations data, real-time market data and reference data services. This kind of solution may draw upon various Refinitiv components that could be hosted in private and public cloud environments as well as on the client premises.
As well as working with established clients on how to assuage their appetite for cloud-based services, Refinitiv is helping smaller firms switch to the cloud and is gaining interest from a new set of clients including innovative start-ups looking for data discovery and content use in the cloud, and small companies that want to experiment with trading ideas.
Meanwhile, Leslie says the company’s popular TREP platform will continue to handle local market data feed distribution on premise, but will be offered as a managed service with some components being replicated in the cloud. The Elektron delivery network will continue to host Refinitiv real-time and pricing data services, and solution-specific managed services as a kind of private cloud that can inter-operate with services based in the public cloud.
Leslie notes that firms’ initial business cases for cloud are usually based on cost, but are typically followed by questions about what cloud can allow them to do that they couldn’t do before. She says: “A real benefit of cloud is to unlock process resources in the back office around reference, pricing and valuations data. Putting just data in the cloud, or just systems in the cloud and pulling data up and down is expensive. The need is to compute in the cloud, to put your master reference database and analytics in the cloud and compute there.”
She agrees that changing people and processes is difficult, and that cloud is not necessarily a cheaper option than on premise computing, but over time suggests cloud can unlock the costs of platforms, people and processes, and improve synchronicity and efficiency. It can also be a catalyst for digital transformation as firms look to lower costs by cutting capital expenditure and reduce risk.
Looking at this year’s roadmap, Leslie concludes: “We will continue to drive new content and services into off-premise environments, and invest in content we already have, perhaps extending into new geographic regions or asset classes. We will also target a wider range of users that are interested in the ease of access to data that we can provide, and invest in the unseen, essentially added value that will make a difference for our clients.”