During that time they have honed their infrastructure provision and software development approach in direct response to their customers’ needs and requirements. Beeks’ mission is to deliver ultra-low latency compute power, ensure maximum security and optimise performance in the exceedingly fast-moving capital markets sector.
To coincide with their End of Year results 2021, CEO Gordon McArthur and his team at Beeks are launching their latest product evolution, Proximity Cloud.
Proximity Cloud is a pre-configured IAAS trading environment platform dedicated to the demands of capital trading markets and financial institutions.
While managed cloud service providers offer generic cloud computing solutions, Proximity Cloud has grown out of the knowledge, expertise and experience of exclusively supporting financial trading companies.
“We’ve got a long and unique history of delivering on-demand compute in financial services,” says McArthur.
“We know the pain points our customers encounter, and Proximity Cloud is our most comprehensive offering to date. We aim to eliminate some of the risks and a lot of the costs that come with in-house infrastructure solutions and to make it a lot easier to get value to the business.”
Proximity Cloud is a low latency private cloud product pre-built into a physical cabinet and delivered to site in a stand-alone rack.
It comprises the whole range of functionality to be expected from Beeks Cloud, including resource management automation, full stack and trading analytics, packet capture, latency monitoring, high precision time services and support for MultiCast and UniCast datasets
The problems that Proximity Cloud helps to solve are far-reaching, and include everything from security risk to opportunity blocks, measuring performance analytics and reducing local supply chain issues.
“Up until now Beeks has provided a private cloud product with a level of shared network infrastructure hosted in the Beeks’ domain,” explains McArthur.
“Although we were having great meetings with banks and the bigger financial institutions who love our message and our agility, we kept bumping our head against the issue of internal controls using shared networks.
“The shared infrastructure platform was causing problems with security, data access and data sovereignty,” says McArthur. “These may not be so significant in the generic cloud, but they are show-stoppers in the financial sector.”
“Replacing shared infrastructure through a dedicated, client-owned environment was key.”
Not only do financial organisations wish to deploy quickly in new trading regions globally, they also have their own data centres where they wish to have control of their infrastructure.
Commenting on the flexibility of Proximity Cloud Head of Sales for Beeks Group Alan Samuel says: “Our other products to date have been prescriptive in terms of location. Our customers have had to engage with Beeks Cloud within our own footprint in our global locations.
“Proximity Cloud enables us to deliver the product in any location. Our customers don’t have to locate it in LD4 or NY4. They can have it in their own building in London, New York, Singapore or literally anywhere in the world they require it to be.”
“Things can change in the financial sector very quickly,” says McArthur. “Our customers need optimised systems that flex under load and market demand.
“Proximity Cloud allows our customers to adapt and scale up or down without having to fork out a substantial amount in CAPEX.”
Financial businesses who have attempted their own infrastructure builds know only too well the pain of integrating low latency, virtual compute with analytics and execution engines.
“So many banks and brokers have invested a great deal of time and money on platforms that never got off the ground,” McArthur comments.
“Not only that, it’s likely that successful implementations would be compromised on some area of security or performance monitoring.
“The value of Proximity Cloud over alternative cloud providers lies in its integration of security, connectivity, low latency and analytics. This means that trading organisations can focus on what they do best instead of spending lots of man hours piecing things together before they can give any value to the business.”
Furthermore, Proximity Cloud integrates quickly with public cloud for a hybrid solution, enabling financial teams to select where workloads are processed.
“One of the biggest logistical nightmares for our customers is having to buy component parts remotely for the 10 or 20 locations around the world where they need to have computing infrastructure,” says McArthur.
“Beeks solves this problem by taking responsibility for the sourcing, support and component replacement through our regional supply chain hubs and Service Level Agreements.
“Customers leave all the logistics to us and take delivery of a fully pre-configured, pre-cabled Proximity Cloud cabinet.”
“Security protocols and performance analytics are the most important thing for IT to think about,” says McArthur.
“There are so many layers involved, including processes, procedures, certifications, specific software and hardware as well as manpower. Organisations need a dedicated security team monitoring 24/7 against cyber-attacks, Denial of Service and any incidents and events on the periphery of the network.”
Also of utmost importance are best-in-class performance monitoring tools and expertise, which can be difficult to achieve in-house.
Having the ability to monitor connectivity, third party networks, bandwidth utilisation and micro-bursts of network activity ensure that trades are made at the expected calibre and any third party liabilities can be swiftly pin-pointed.
Trouble-shooting and issue resolution can be extremely time consuming and costly without collating accurate recordings and evidence. This needs expert resourcing and focus to enhance trading confidence in the platform.
“Otherwise engineers have to carry out a deep-dive into the servers and still don’t necessarily identify the right information. There are often mistakes and risks to security with holes left open,” comments McArthur.
However, with comprehensive real-time monitoring and alerting of latency and trade flow, as well as the ability to query historical trades with full packet capture, Proximity Cloud resolves this engineering issue.
“The analytics piece alone is what big organisations have spent millions trying to get right,” says McArthur.
Beeks’s monthly subscription model means that organisations can get up and running with a comparatively low OPEX spend, rather than the huge CAPEX investment associated with traditional solution development and implementation contracts.
“We’ve always known how to get the technology off the ground cost effectively,” comments McArthur. “Proximity Cloud is the latest addition offering immediate value for money.”
Converting CAPEX spend to OPEX is a significant enabler in financial institutions’ technical expansion and transforms both Total Cost of Ownership and Return on Investment.
“Engineering costs can be enormous in a traditional environment. But these are mitigated by the built-in analytics included in Proximity Cloud,” says McArthur.
In terms of alternative suppliers AWS Outpost is the only real competitor in the space but does not include all the sector-specific functionality of Proximity Cloud.
Alan Samuel comments: “In a nutshell, competitor solutions aren’t designed for the specific requirements of capital markets and finance and cost significantly more than the price of Proximity Cloud.
“The overall costs of Proximity Cloud is significantly cheaper than using existing cloud service providers when you consider things like ingress and egress charges – and night and day compared to the cost of developing it in-house.”
Emphasising the maturity of the product’s core functionality, McArthur says: “All the components within Proximity Cloud are tried and tested over the last decade. We are one of the only firms in the world with dedicated expertise in building, networking and automating private virtual machines and analytics for the financial markets.
“In that sense Proximity Cloud is not a new product. It’s an iteration of all the components we’ve spent the last ten years building and automating, all brought together in a plug-and-play package.
“What is new is the software layer that brings all the components together and enables point and click management through a brand-new user interface.
“Software development now forms 25% of our engineering base and is growing year on year as the automation and orchestration layer becomes more sophisticated.
“We’re already planning the next 2 phases of Proximity Cloud.”
“It’s very encouraging – and quite unusual – that we already have a couple of pre-launch expressions of interest in Proximity Cloud from a range of financial organisations, including a small technology firm and one of the largest stock exchanges in the world,” says McArthur.
“Almost everyone we’ve spoken to has given us very positive feedback – so there’s definitely something in this product and we are excited to see how it is received.”
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