The Gateway to Algorithmic and Automated Trading

Low Latency Network Expertise

Published in Automated Trader Magazine Issue 17 Q2 2010

Just how much does the firm pitching your connectivity requirements really know about the nuts and bolts of running a superfast and robust network? And what investment are they making in researching the next generation of network technology? Joe Hilt, VP of Sales North America, and Fergus Innes, VP of Sales Europe, at Hibernia Atlantic, outline some of the areas where if your provider lacks expertise - you will be paying the price.
The ever-increasing emphasis in financial markets on reducing latency while expanding capacity means that ground-level expertise is at a premium. Sales personnel may claim fantastic performance from carefully, cherry-picked segments of the network they lease (of which they have zero technical understanding) but how does that really play out when your trades hit “their” fibre?

Automated Trader sat down with Fergus Innes and Joe Hilt of Hibernia Atlantic, the company that powers the Global Financial Network (GFN), to learn more.

Traders want the fastest routes-Period. Does that mean the straightest line from Point A to Point B?

Joe Hilt: There are many factors that affect fibre quality, but yes, the route taken is obviously a major factor in the speed of light between two points. In a perfect world, the obvious route is a straight line between the two points to be connected. However, in the real world, things are very different, with a whole host of factors potentially combining to determine the ultimate route and its performance. These include:

  • Geology: the cost of cutting through a large mass of hard rock might completely undermine the business case for a particular route
  • Local government: availability (or otherwise) of opening permits
  • Environmental considerations: the need to circumvent particularly ecologically-sensitive sites
  • Existing ducting/conduit: whether or not sufficient capacity already exists

Fergus Innes: And the direct path might not always be the best path. Financial firms come to us for our lowest latency routes, such as our ability to get from Toronto to Chicago at 10 ms RTD or London to Frankfurt in 9.89 ms RTD. But we also offer choice through secure, diverse routes. If your primary route was to unexpectedly go offline, your critical data must have a secondary, safe route and Hibernia offers the most secure routing across the Atlantic Ocean. Notably, our network follows a more northern path than traditional cable crossings, directly connecting Canada and Ireland. This network footprint avoids traditionally congested areas, such as around the New York, New Jersey and UK waterways.

The Global Financial Network

The Global Financial Network

This is a boon for customers who want physical network diversity as a secondary routing option. For instance, if a fishing boat were to set its anchor on a highly congested fibre area undersea, Hibernia Atlantic would still ensure that your traffic is re-routed via a viable, secure secondary route, thereby ensuring your critical communications.

What do you consider a high performance network?

Joe Hilt: A high performance network is one that is monitored day in and day out by a team of expert professionals. Experienced professionals will not only know the various possible sources of fibre for a particular route, but also the quality of that fibre and the technology deployed at its start/end points. This information allows them to swiftly blend the best combination of fibre and start/end point technology to deliver the lowest latency and highest resilience for mission critical financial applications.

Fergus Innes: In the case of Hibernia Atlantic, that level of expertise means that clients can access optimal Layer 2 connectivity that gives them exceptional flexibility for their trading activities. However, this alone is not enough; in today's financial markets where opportunities are fleeting, time to market is increasingly vital.

As a result, delivering great connectivity in an industry-typical "30-90 days" is missing the mark - which is why Hibernia Atlantic guarantees an install of 5 days from signature to service. In today's trading climate, both the speed in fibre connectivity and the necessary speed to market delivery are hallmarks of great, high performance, financial network providers.

How does industry expertise play a role in low latency networking?

Joe Hilt: A provider with the right technical and engineering teams will have a huge advantage when it comes to implementing the most optimal

route in the fastest time. Companies like Hibernia Atlantic employ experienced industry veterans who will, as a matter of course, know how to deal with these issues and will be well aware in advance of potential problems. This type of expertise can make a substantial difference to implementation and performance times; if your organisation needs fast connectivity quickly, inexperience is an expensive luxury. For example, a provider that isn't au fait with the intricacies of local government permit applications can easily add weeks or months to your implementation by forgetting to check a box on an application form.

Fergus Innes: A similar need for expertise applies when it comes to the technology deployed at fibre endpoints. Simply deploying commodity hardware with default settings is a completely inadequate approach for mission- and latency-critical routes. A mixture of vendor technology may be used, particularly on longer routes where a provider has to lease capacity from other sources for part of the distance. Inexperienced providers or those simply reselling capacity might just accept the default settings for this equipment, which can introduce considerable latency. By contrast, a provider with an established pedigree will have personnel capable of fine-tuning operating system settings on equipment such as network switches and optical layer transport equipment to minimize latency.

What's the most unique aspect of Hibernia's Network Operational Centres (NOCs)?

Joe Hilt: Our NOC engineers answer the phone and offer you immediate, knowledgeable network support. They understand the real depths of the service you are receiving-not like some of the smaller players who are outsourcing their NOCs or the large players who force you to speak to three different representatives before getting answers. Hibernia engineers are our first line of defence - coming in right from the first moment of contact with the customer. Hibernia only provides private line transport services; this core focus allows our company to focus solely on the service, and the most optimal ways to deploy and maintain this service. Our NOCs are dedicated to this service on a 24x7x365 basis, and to ensuring our customers receive the highest quality network care 24x7x365.


How do you remain on the cutting edge of technology with your network?

Fergus Innes: Our unwillingness to accept the status quo also applies to the evaluation of new technology. Network technology continues to evolve at a fearsome pace, so simply accepting the technology of today and taking no interest in that of tomorrow is a passport to sub-optimal performance. To avoid this trap, Hibernia Atlantic is continuously evaluating new vendor technology at its Dublin tech laboratory. At any one time, technology from a dozen or more vendors will be undergoing trials and testing under real-life conditions.

Joe Hilt: Additionally, we help our clients become market makers by working with our partner organizations to further enhance the GFN network. We are always looking for the best routes available. Currently we are looking to acquire the fastest, most sought-after routes, to places like Stockholm, Madrid, Zurich, Milan and Geneva. Our goal at Hibernia Atlantic is to always push beyond our borders: test the latest equipment technology available; seek out the fastest available routes; consider all possible security and route protections; manage the entire route with experienced dedicated technical teams; and optimise all network performance factors.

We are a network dedicated to the needs of the financial community, uniting hundreds of global banks and financial exchanges with a single connection. These financial institutions, firms and exchanges that define our global economy, count on us each day to provide the most cutting-edge performance and reliability available. We are honoured to win this trust, and we work diligently 24x7x365 to ensure their network success.

For more information on ultra-low latency connectivity, email