Thursday, February 05, 2009

Streambase Again!!!! Arghhhhh !

It seems that my posting on Streambase's recent customer win has gotten some people pretty ticked off. I have received some private messages from a few of the CEP vendors who are crying foul. Nobody wants to appear that they have sour grapes against the Streambase win, but of course by contacting me, they know that I will pursue the issue in the interest of fairness and transparency.

The issue revolves around the joint claims by Mark Palmer and Penny Crossman that Phase Capital had evaluated all of the major CEP vendors. Penny had written the following:

PhaseCapital evaluated a number of CEP vendors in the trading space, including Progress Apama, Coral8, Aleri and StreamBase.

What some of the CEP vendors are claiming is that Phase Capital had never downloaded copies of their products for evaluation, nor contacted the CEP vendor with any questions.

In my experience, before you can download a copy of a CEP product for evaluation, you need to fill out a registration form. Some of the CEP vendors won't even let you download a copy from their website ... they want to pre-certify you by paying you a personal visit.

So, if Phase Capital did not download the evaluation copies, how did they evaluate some of the products. Did they do part of their evaluation from going over a publically available list of features? Did they get information from blogs such as this one? Did they download the product under another name? Did they have a third-party consultant do the evaluations?

Update: They could have gotten the copies from a reseller. Sybase resells a number of CEP products.

In the interest of transparency, I would ask Greg McSweeny from Wall Street and Technology to ask his writer, Penny Crossman, to substantiate what she wrote in her article concerning the competitive evaluation that Phase Capital did between the various CEP products. Penny is the designated beat reporter for the CEP industry, so I would like to see a bit of investigative journalism from her on this matter. Otherwise, serious doubts would still remain as to Phase Capital's evaluation process.

This is why organizations like Stac Research are so important to our industry.

©2009 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.


mpalmer said...

Hi Marc -

What was printed and said quoted the Phase Capital team. In fact I think I only attended one of many press interviews and said practically nothing. Perhaps they might speak for themselves to the questions that are raised here.

I can comment on what we saw, though. We were involved and supported Phase Capital, but largely from afar. They came by a trade show booth, they downloaded our free, publicly available trial version, and asked a bunch of questions. We had a few meetings with them to answer questions, etc. We know they really worked with the product based on those questions.

That said, I find it disingenuous to scream foul that someone didn't try the product when, in the case of Apama, they don't LET you try the product without hand holding - there's no download, and they only let prospects see the product if they had a consultant attached to it. The reasons for this you can imagine.

Hopefully Phase Capital will chime in and defend the integrity of their process.

- Mark

Penny said...

Hi Marc,

I just came across this blog today — I guess I should check your blog more often! Thank you for reading my article, here's the self-serving link to it: Quant Fund Uses CEP for Smart Order Routing, Data Feeds

I've placed calls to set up a follow-up interview with Phase Capital and StreamBase to clarify this, but my article was based on an interview with Phase Capital's CEO Eric Pritchett and director of technology Jeff Goedel.

Goedel said, "We did a comprehensive evaluation of different OMS/EMS solution providers in the CEP space. Our goal was first to discern if a CEP solution was appropriate for our firm, then also determine which of these CEP solution providers were most well suited to our development paradigm and the kinds of analysis we’d need to be able to do to execute our strategies in the market. We looked at a number of providers, including Progress Apama, Coral8, Aleri and StreamBase, and we drilled down on these and tried to figure out what aspects of these different solutions were interesting to us. We’re a very heavily technology focused firm, not just for performance reasons but also because the algorithm, the process is our strategy, this is a fully automated process at its core, the code we developed to build our process is the product itself, and as such we need tools that enable us to build our product that will allow us to focus on the business problems without having to worry so much about the implementation details of the internals of databases. At the same time, we’re concerned to make sure we have tools we need.
Some of these CEP solutions seem like completely packaged solutions that strive to deliver complete trading algos against the market that will achieve low market impact etc., we’re not looking for that sort of thing because we are in the business of designing algorithms that get the best execution. So those are right out of the box. Streambase’s support paradigm we considered appropriate because Streambase is suited to working with developers, people who are actually able to build systems and algos that will achieve the kinds of detailed and specific execution properties we want. They have the infrastructure in place to work with us to make sure that what we’re trying to achieve is feasible given the internals of their database. This is one of the important characteristics that made Streambase win for us. The extractions were clean, it didn’t seem like they built their system around satisfying the needs of a small number of clients, the Streambase system is a platform for developing solutions, it’s not a solution itself. The idea of using a platform was extremely appropriate for our needs, because our goal is not to buy a packaged solution, our goal is to develop something using well-designed, modular tools and Streambase’s well designed, modular tools were appropriate."

Eric Pritchett said, "The process we went through was we selected a universe of potentials, we collected information about them the best we could with phone calls, researching websites, we went to conferences in New York, we did a little narrowing at that stage, we had detailed demos and interaction with the teams from the companies Jeff mentioned, we then narrowed that down to our final two: Streambase and Aleri. We had extensive, onsite working sessions with both of those teams and we did a thorough evaluation of the support paradigm and got under the covers with developers from both companies, that took about two months."

I have no reason to believe Eric or Jeff were lying, nor do I have a way of checking whether they downloaded other CEP vendors' software. They didn't actually claim that they downloaded every CEP solution in their evaluation. The CEP vendors who are attacking this story would be better served by getting Wall Street customer wins and getting those customers to speak on the record so that I can write case studies about them.

—Penny Crosman