Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Review of the Gartner 2008 Conference on Event Processing

I spent an interesting two days in scenic Stamford, Connecticut on September 15 and 16, 2008. It was my second venture to a Gartner conference solely devoted to event processing, the first being in Orlando in 2007 when we were CEP neophytes. This time, I was not in learning mode .... the sessions that I attended were designed to give me an insight into what other financial companies are doing with CEP, and what the future direction of CEP might be.

The conference seemed a bit smaller than last year's conference, maybe because this year, it was not preceded directly by the Gartner conference on Business Intelligence. Some of the vendors were lamenting the lack of prospects. Indeed, the conference seemed much more heavily stacked with vendor participants than with potential customers. This speculation was confirmed when I saw a list of the attendees. I would estimate that, out of about 200 attendees, maybe 2o-25% were customers. I was one of 9 attendees from financial services firms, with most of the other attendees coming from fairly small companies. Does this mean that financial companies have already made their decisions concerning CEP, or are the financial companies being more prudent with their spending on conferences and travel? The next year should be a very interesting one for the vendors of CEP products, especially ones that are targeting financial firms.

Mary Knox started off with her usually overview of adopting CEP in financial services. A fairly good overview, with many valid points. I also notice that Mary has been reading certain blogs, as some of this information was included in her presentation. I questioned Mary's numbers on CEP spending, as it showed an extremely rosy outlook for the CEP marketplace, an outlook which may have been valid at last year's conference, but may no longer be valid in these times.

Mark Palmer of Streambase gave a great presentation on Smart Order Routing. I feared that it was going to be an informercial for Streambase, especially since, as I walked into the conference room, a Streambase rep thrust a USB flash drive at me which contained the latest incarnation of the Streambase platform. However, Mark presented a very good presentation without really harping on Streambase, and to tell you the truth, I like the direction where they are heading. It's pretty obvious that Mark is bringing a lot of the direction from Apama to Streambase in terms of developing financial verticals. I also hope that Mark will have a positive effect on the Streambase culture, and that their sales and marketing team will adopt a lower-key approach.

Mark's presentation was followed by Robert Almgren, who used to be with Bank of America before striking out on his own (???). Last year, Robert gave a fascinating intro to Algo trading. This year, he gave some in-depth looks at the architecture of an algo trading system, something that he was probably not allowed to do last year. Streambase is sponsoring some work that he and Bill Harts are doing in Smart Order Routing, and I am sure that the results will make their way back into the Streambase platform. Streambase's direction of totally embracing the financial services industry may or may not pay off in the future; from what a few of the vendors have told me, the interest in CEP in the hedge fund sector has cooled off somewhat.

Louis Morgan from HG Trading pretty much rehashed last year's presentation. HG Trading specializes in High Frequency Trading. Their average holding time for a stock is 7 minutes, and they never hold a position overnight. He mentioned that trading volume have gone up substantially, while the latency of his system has gone from 20ms to under 2ms. HG trading is a three person shop .... Lou, his developer, and a quant. They are extremely agile, and not afraid to spend money where it is needed. For instance, they spend money on co-location for their servers. They have 6 Apama correlators running. It was interesting that Lou gave his talk around the time the market opened on Monday (the morning of the Merrill and Lehman announcements), and he would have been totally forgiven if he has to cancel his presentation and attend to business.

Another good talk with given by Albert Doolittle of George Weiss, a small trading firm in Hartford, Connecticut. I saw many parallels between Albert's experience and my own .... he just jumped into CEP last year, did the trade show circuit, picked Aleri, did a POC, and now he has a CEP system up and running.

I think that my own talk went fairly well, and that I save the attendees some things to ponder.

It was nice to see some of the luminaries of the CEP world, including Opher, and to reconnect with many of the CEP vendors. Ron from Aleri introduced me to the Black Martini (Vodka, Blue Curacao, and Chamborde), and I know that he was moving a few steps slower the following morning.

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark
I am Elhabib of CAC Japan.
I want to let you know that your blog has loyal readers here in Japan.
Your recent presentation at Gartner has been rated by many as the best. I appreciate if you can share it with me.
I took part in the EPTS summit but could not make it to Gartner.
Hope to see you next time.
Best regards
email :

marc said...

Thanks very much for the compliment.

Unfortunately, I have not yet gotten permission yet from my company's Corporate Communications Department to redistribute the slides. If and when I do, I will post them somewhere and announce here where you can download them.