Single Dealer Platforms: Buy vs Build, Who Cares?

Recently with numerous comments on my blog from certain parties coupled I thought it worth blogging some thoughts on where we are in Single Dealer Platform (SDP) land:

  • Firstly, I don’t really care if a SDP is build or buy. Even a buy consists of a build. You can’t buy an SDP off the shelf today without doing some work. “Caplin is the leader in rich applications in capital markets” – should I stop laughing now? Caplin is an integration layer as far as I can tell.
  • Since when was Microsoft, Adobe and Caplin the “three primary competitors” in SDP land? Maybe in some naive SDP builders mind, but in reality this is just not the case. Microsoft has never tried to be sell the full SDP stack, Adobe can’t compete in this space until LCDS 3 is release, and Caplin doesn’t sell a RIA that is ready to go – last I heard they provided a reference Ajax application that they advised clients not to use, as its a reference RIA.
  • Microsoft sells a proprietary toolkit for building multimedia online applications called Silverlight – whoever wrote this article just doesn’t understand technology.
  • If certain companies had products that delivered serious SDP value, then they’d be used by the majority of the sell-side. As far as I know this isn’t the case today for a number of good reason which I’m not going to go into at the moment.
  • “don’t waste time solving all the problems that someone else has already solved” – I agree, but also disagree. Technology moves onward at neck breaking speed. What was cool and fast two years ago, is often found to be old and slow today. Whatever product(s) you buy need to be appropriately integrated into an application (SDP or whatever) so that if required that product can be replaced with minimum fuss if it’s deemed that product is not providing (business) value for money.
  • “ultimate proprietary software” – Unfortunately if Martin’s argument is that the Caplin product will solve all your problems, then he’s wrong. A few large US sell-side banks have take the lead in certain application areas primarily because they built some infrastructure, and purchased a few products to deliver a business solution. As I said earlier I believe that to deliver a business solution requires a mixture of build and buy. I want the best streaming technology for an SDP, I want the best backbone and pricing infrastructure, I want the best User Interface (UI) technology and best User Experience (UX). No product offers all of these today.

~ by mdavey on March 5, 2010.

10 Responses to “Single Dealer Platforms: Buy vs Build, Who Cares?”

  1. Hi Matt,

    We obviously have differing opinions on a lot of this, but just to clear up some things.

    I am not suggesting that Caplin solves all the problems, you are right that ALL SDP’s are a ‘build’, maybe I didn’t make that clear. What I am saying is Caplin lets you concentrate on building the interesting parts (from a Business perspective).

    Your list at the end.. streaming technology, pricing infrastructure and UI/UX – I agree, you do want the best of these, but plugging these together is a big job, and we believe what we offer helps you with that a lot more than generic technology. We don’t provide a pricing backbone, so you can pick the best for that, we don’t force you to use our UI framework, you can write your own, and we believe we do have the best streaming technology. The main point is that our technology allows you to integrate all this with domain specific abstractions rather than figuring out how best to create the necessary layers on top of generic solutions.

  2. Matt,

    Wow. Perhaps you might enlighten us as to:

    1.) What vendor IS the leader in RIA applications in this space, based on the number of sell-side users? And:

    2.) Who the three top competitors are among vendors offering RIA applications/services? Someone from your own shop told this reporter the main tech players in RIA SDPs are: Adobe Flex, Caplin/Ajax and Microsoft’s Silverlight. So what gives?

    3.) And how about full disclosure from you: Does your employment mean you favor Adobe Flex, or is that incorrect?

    Would you mind answering those questions? I’d appreciate it.

    Reason I ask: You panned pretty hard the reporting in the piece you cited but offered nothing to refute its sources’ claims, beyond what seems to be a general displeasure and mild disdain for said claims of said sources. However, if you could kindly seek to enlighten those you’ve described as needing it, including full disclosure about whether you, due to the shop at which you work, favor one of the three technologies described — Adobe, Microsoft or Caplin — perhaps said person could be made to understand your views better, and as a result, add to the overall discourse in an improved, as you would have it, manner, if such improvement is actually needed.

    Ah, and, full disclosure: I wrote the piece.

    To that point: I see nothing factually wrong with the statements with which you find fault. But perhaps a “teaching moment” is at hand. You doing so may mean I may not frustrate your sensibilities so much in the future, as has seems to have been the case this time around.

    Postscript: The funny thing about a statement like “whoever wrote this article just doesn’t understand technology,” if we’re to take that unsubstantiated claim for truth, is that such misunderstanding as you’ve described it usually results from the following commonality: That those that DO understand technology are often horrible at explaining it. That’s doubly and triply complicated when getting to some amalgam of truth involves doing so in plain English, and discounting the bias of alleged, or available, experts toward whatever technology they may or may not hawk, and those experts penchants for using techno-babble as a weapon to wage a PR war. Let me be clear: I don’t see the end result, this piece, suffering from any such challenges, though they sure can make reporting a pain in the….

    Thanks in advance for your response. Cheers,

    • Sure

      1. Battle is between Microsoft, Adobe and Google
      2. People are mixing up RIA and SDP’s. A SDP can have a Java RIA, however Java is not in my view a RIA since it doesn’t provide a sensible separation of concern from the viewpoint of the view.
      3. I don’t favour Adobe whatsoever. I favour the appropriate technology that provides the business with a solution that satisfies the requirements.

  3. I take you at your word, and appreciate your feedback. And, not to belabor my utter refutation and disagreement with your characterization of my piece. But I’d like to point out that you didn’t answer directly my aporetic questions. Also, you contradict your own argument that Adobe and Microsoft don’t compete in this space, by responding that in fact the “Battle is between Microsoft, Adobe and [surprise] Google.” By the way, can GWT claim any sell-side users who use it somehow for SDP(s) with streaming bond prices? Let me know if so.

    Also, my advice would be to take a more holistic, contextual approach to viewing, and explaining, the space, which is what my piece represents. SDP is the big concentric circle of which RIAs and streaming/comet servers are part, they are two subset components that make up the whole: SDP. RIA frameworks provide build capabilities of RIA, do they not, be they with Ajax, Flex or Silverlight? Those can be stream-fed as well, right, or usually are? That’s the goal anyway. Who is confused on this? I agree there may be “people” who are mixing up RIA and SDPs somehow, but I assert it’s those who may be too involved in the trees to see the stand of birch around them.

    • So the wording in the article says “The rich applications for single-dealer portals, which also feature charts and news feeds, are generally constructed by the banks on technology sold by three primary competitors: Caplin Systems, Adobe Systems and Microsoft.” Caplin isn’t an RIA. It’s an integration platform, and I’m pretty sure Caplin doesn’t care if you use Flex, Java, WPF, Silverlight, HTML. Hence this statement is incorrect in my view.

  4. Correct Matt, Caplin isn’t an RIA. To be clear: We have 2 frameworks in the SDP space: Caplin Xaqua, which is an SDP framework (what you describe as an ‘integration platform’), and Caplin Trader, which is an Ajax RIA framework for Caplin Xaqua. You can build your front-end(s) on Caplin Xaqua in any RIA or desktop GUI technology. Banks like Nomura have chosen Silverlight, while banks like Barclays have leveraged the Caplin Trader Ajax framework. Shane, GWT (write Java, run as Ajax) could equally be used, though I don’t know of any banks that are currently doing so for SDP GUIs.

  5. […] Who Cares? (and comments) Posted on March 9, 2010 by singledealerplatforms This thread is getting […]

  6. Matt – Is this blog being hijacked to advertise Caplin products?

    Perhaps we should give some airtime to the “real players” in the provision of SDP technology?

    Microsoft Silverlight. The only sensible and cost effective choice for a new SDP.

    SmartTrade –

    My-channels Nirvana –
    .. Behind UBS, DB, Credit Suisse and some “newer” SDPs. Consistently outperforms Lightstreamer, Liberator, A.N Other Rich Comet provider in terms of performance, scalability, functionality. In fact this should be your first choice when designing any SDP or distribution stack.

  7. Ah, welcome the peanut gallery from marketing wonderland.

    Finally, just to fully finish defending my work from your faulty claims: I would point out you’re not reading closely enough my words: I never wrote that any Caplin platform on its own was/is an RIA, by itself. In fact, I said banks constructed the RIAs themselves, using tech from the three vendors mentioned; Adobe, Caplin and Microsoft. I also mentioned in the piece most of the main players with comet servers in the space, including, besides Adobe and Caplin, Milan-based Lightstreamer and its server of the same name; Mountain View, Calif.-based Kaazing and its Gateway server; and London-based my-Channels with its Nirvana server. Just to calm the marketing VPs in this vendor-consultant echo chamber. But here is the sentence in question, the precise sentence you yourself cite, with words in CAPS to clear up your confusion:

    The rich applications for single-dealer portals, which also feature charts and news feeds, ARE GENERALLY CONSTRUCTED BY THE BANKS ON TECHNOLOGY SOLD BY three primary competitors: Caplin Systems, Adobe Systems and Microsoft.

    They use the technology offered by these vendors to build SDPs with RIA.

    It’s so easy to understand this. And, it’s accurate. So what’s your problem?

    Yet, you incredibly and blithely proclaim that this journalist “doesn’t understand technology?” Wow Matt. Total bunk, as well as wholly unthinking and inflammatory. Well, I would respond to that raspberry filled canard with this: You lack the ability to comprehend by reading: You certainly didn’t read this piece closely enough to understand the appropriate meaning and context of the subject in question. My job is to inform dealers, Matt, the banks about what’s out there that can help them build or deploy stuff: in this case SDPs, by giving them what’s available to do it, IN PLAIN ENGLISH. I did this, period. And I was inclusive of the major players, including Lab49 and its Matrix work. Perhaps I didn’t mention Lab49 enough for your taste. But in the end, Lab49 is a consulting firm Matt: And this piece was focused on SDP-RIA technology vendors.

    Matt: I would humbly suggest you be much less careless and reckless in blithely running down someone’s reputation, particularly when your accusations are false. While your job may involve (not saying it does, necessarily) playing up the perception that you are on the sizzling, leading edge of everything – I’ve never seen more acronyms tossed around in my life – so as to razzle-dazzle the bankers to score development/build jobs, my job is to teach people generally about capital markets technology in plain English, so they can better understand it.

    You flaming me on your blog for no reason, with claims that have no merit, was wrong. What seems to be your fired-up sense of competition, while assuredly admirable, has definitely overheated, here. Engaging someone just doing his job, and doing it well, in a PR war; or, in effect, clocking him one between the eyes, only ever signifies that the one doing the clocking is coming from a position of weakness. More to the point: Mischaracterizing by being untruthful and unethical about someone’s facts and work when they’re solid – my piece was thoroughly, heavily reported; the story is accurate – is wrong. It’s harmful to the overall discourse and those engaged in it.

  8. Well isn’t this hilarious. I haven’t laughed at a blog post like this for ages.

    How anyone can aim to compare these things without getting into the meat and potatoes of what Single Dealer Platform actually means and what the technology does, beyond looking at the marketing bumf is just beyond me.

    If you look to compare RIA applications you usually link the front end technology with some kind of streaming. So, Ajax, Flex, Java and Silverlight would be in the box labled shiny gui bit. Ultimately Caplin might provide tools but it’s not a front end technology, not one that most computers in the world speak.

    The next would be the streaming bit, LCDS for flex, Lightstreamer for flex, java and Ajax, Caplin, my-channels, or Microsoft’s own.

    Then there is a the back end, the interesting bit. The bit that gets you market data, that does pricing, the does trade lifecycle, that does booking, that does credit, that does any relevant risk processing. The streaming and front end parts are important but

    What a whole load of waffle about RIA platforms and stuff all about the thing that actually makes you any money. The processing of deals.

    dealer [ˈdiːlə]
    1. (Business / Commerce) a person or firm engaged in commercial purchase and sale; trader a car dealer
    2. (Group Games / Card Games) Cards the person who distributes the cards
    3. (Business / Commerce) Slang a person who sells illegal drugs

    Unless it provides something more than just infrastructure, it’s infrastructure and *not* a single dealer platform. It might be:

    snake oil

    any of various liquid concoctions of questionable medical value sold as an all-purpose curative, esp. by traveling hucksters.
    Slang. deceptive talk or actions; hooey; bunkum: The governor promised to lower taxes, but it was the same old snake oil.

    Hugs and Kisses, the customers

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