Corvil Review

Quickly identifies areas of concern from a performance perspective

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use it for latency monitoring and benchmarking. We look at the geographical location of our servers and European exchanges, using this product to measure the amount of time:

  1. It takes for us to receive an order from a client.
  2. Routing the client's order to the exchange in the exchange data center.
  3. Executing on the order book.
  4. The hops all the way back to the client's execution. 

That latency allows us to establish whether or not there might be any problems with the connection, or understand if we're meeting expectations around latency benchmarks from the clients' perspective.

How has it helped my organization?

The benefits are two-fold:

  1. Corvil is industry recognized. If we provide a client with latency metrics, from Corvil, that it has taken X amount of milliseconds or microseconds for us to execute their order, or reach the exchange. Since it is an industry standard product, the clients recognize and trust in it. Therefore, it's easier for us to demonstrate the performance benefits of our applications, because our clients recognize Corvil as an industry-standard product and trust in it.
  2. We don't have anything internally which would holistically provide the type of granular breakdown of each hop through each of the different systems using different messaging protocols in different applications or in different languages. We wouldn't be able to do it easily with a product that wasn't off-the-shelf, like Corvil.

What is most valuable?

The scope of the solution is quite broad. There are a number of other aspects to it, so it is quite multifunctional, as well as delivering a solution for latency monitoring of the trading flow. It also allows us to see at a very granular level the amount of time taken through each of our components, both internally and externally. Therefore, we can use this solution to establish whether or not we have any suboptimal applications, network configurations, switches, or client providers.

In addition, it allows us to trace the flow. The logic is built sufficiently for us to be able to break down clients' orders, underlying child orders, and execution. Thus, it's a good way for us to trace client flow through a myriad of different internal systems.

What needs improvement?

The iHub add-on comes with a lot of analytical functionality, which would be nice to have built into the original application rather than as an additional component. Corvil is more focused around high volumes of data and network peak-ups, rather than being able to cut the data in a lot of different ways to use as an analytical tool. While I understand why they have developed the iHub, it would be nice to include it in the Corvil package rather than have it as a separate application.

The configuration could be simpler. It takes a long time to set up. 

Some of the exchange protocol decoders could be published in a more timely fashion. 

They need a bit more consideration around the complexity of their product. This would help in estimating the amount of effort required to get their product deployed and supporting it on an ongoing basis.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good. We have not had any major outages.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

With scalability:

  1. The network bandwidth needs to be a consideration, because the traffic is quite heavy. For example, if we were scaling the platform out, we would need to be quite careful, spending some money around our network bandwidth to ensure it didn't impact on our trading.
  2. There are obviously predefined limitations around how many sessions you can have on a CME.

While the product is scalable, it's not easy to scale. It needs investment hardware and network bandwidth consideration. It's not something you can just do overnight.

The primary users run the bank in products and support. There are some users on the service desk, sitting on the trading desk, providing a service function. There are a couple of users on the product desk, more on the execution side of the business. However, there are probably not more than 10 to 12 total users in London.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have had some interactions with their technical support. We have a strong relationship with the people there. Generally, the response has been very good. They give us their time when we need them. My opinion is favorable.

How was the initial setup?

While I wasn't part of the initial installation, I did go through the Tera upgrade, which was a fairly significant build-out. It took a long time, approximately nine months front to back.

What about the implementation team?

The upgrade was very complicated. We had a high dependency on the vendor to assist us with the configuration. It was not easy to configure.

The configuration has a dependency on different message protocols, from an exchange perspective. Also, internally, it needs a lot of bespoke configuration around different languages that we use internally for our systems to communicate. You can't just get the product out-of-the-box and plug it in. There's a lot of configuration work, which had to be done exchange by exchange and client by client. That process took a very long time.

For our upgrade implementation strategy, we prioritized venues and clients. We relied on the vendor a lot to give us time to assist us with the upgrade. I think Corvil probably spent a significant number of man-days (probably a 100 man-days) on this. That amount of time was not necessarily factored into the contract, so they did a lot of pro-bono work for us.

Our experience with them was good. The people are very strong technically and technically aware. They have a strong understanding of their product. We have a good relationship with them. We would like not to depend on them so much. However, part of the reason that we have to depend on them so much is due to the complexity of the product.

For deployment and maintenance, there are probably two to three people from our side, and one to two people from the Corvil side. On our side, there are probably one or two people from a production management perspective, who are actually undertaking the configuration. In addition, there will probably be someone from specialized infrastructure, like a network engineer involved, who would help facilitate things like firewall changes and open up the right ports.

What was our ROI?

This solution help us determine where to focus our performance improvement efforts. It quickly identifies areas of concern from a performance perspective. It allows us to see the outliers and any increases in the median latency, which tell us whether or not there is a specific area that we need to focus on in terms of performance improvement.

Broadly speaking, this solution has reduced incident diagnosis times because it is a tool that we don't have elsewhere. Sometimes, we use it to breakdown issues.

We seen increased productivity from using this solution. It provides us with a holistic overview of the client order flow through client connectivity to our internal components and risk checks in an exchange. This is not something that we can easily provide ourselves. By definition, it increases our productivity because it allows us to have visibility of that flow in a more granular way.

Corvil has also reduced the time it takes us to isolate root causes.

What other advice do I have?

You should try to build an accurate picture of how much effort will be involved in the deployment, then ensure that you have adequate support from the vendor.

This solution helps to correlate individual client or trade desk transactions to infrastructure and venue latency. It allows us to break down the latency performance at both the venue level and client level. So, we can cut the data different ways to look at it, either from an individual client perspective, trading across multiple venues, or we can target the analysis on a specific venue.

By definition, we are measuring the performance of the venue. Though, it's not something that we specifically focus on. As a firm, our focus is more on the things that we can change.

I don't personally have much experience with the analytics features. We have had some discussions with Corvil around an additional product, which is called iHub, which is bolted onto Corvil. It comes with many more analytical tools out-of-the-box. However, with the exception of allowing us to understand and analyze the latency, there is not much else from an analytical perspective that we use the solution for.

The business have their own dashboard, which they configure themselves. We have not really been too heavily involved in giving them dashboards.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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