Thursday, May 10, 2012

FIX^MOM untangled - exchange connectivity

The upshot -- some subsystem use FIX not MOM; some subsystem use MOM not FIX. Some sites send FIX over MOM (such as RV) but not common.

It's important to realize FIX is not a type of MOM system. Even though FIX uses messages, I believe they are typically sent over persistent TCP sockets, without any middle-ware.

Say we (sell-side or buy-side) have a direct connectivity to an exchange. Between exchange and our exterior gateway, it's all sockets and possibly java NIO -- no messaging. Data format could be FIX, or it could be the exchange's proprietary format -- here's why.

The exchange often has an internal client-server protocol -- the real protocol and a data flow "choke point" . All client-server request/response relies solely on this protocol. The exchange often builds a FIX translation over this protocol (for obvious reasons....) If we use their FIX protocol, our messages are internally translated from FIX to the exchange proprietary format. Therefore it's obviously faster to directly pass messages in the exchange proprietary format. The exchange offers this access to selected hedge funds.

As an espeed developer told me, they ship a C-level dll (less often *.so [1]) library (not c++), to be used by the hedge fund's exterior gateway. The hedge fund application uses the C functions therein to communicate with the exchange. This communication protocol is possibly proprietary. HotspotFX has a similar client-side library in the form of a jar. There's no MOM here. The hedge fund gateway engine makes synchronous function calls into the C library.

[1] most trader workstations are on win32.

Note the dll or jar is not running in its own process, but rather loaded into the client process just like any dll or jar.

Between this gateway machine and the trading desk interior hosts, the typical communication is dominated by MOM such as RV, 29West or Solace. In some places, the gateway translates/normalizes messages into an in-house standard format.

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