Corvil Review

We are able to perform real-time analysis; we can go granular, all the way down to looking at the network packets when troubleshooting

What is our primary use case?

We use it to monitor our client connectivity latencies, as perceived by the client. We have a number of clients connecting and we monitor their sessions.

The real-time analytics we use are for the electronic trading environment, the client coming into the electronic trading order flow, the buy side and the sell side. That's where we are primarily using it, but we are planning to expand it further in due course to other trading venues. Right now, most of our Corvil devices are monitoring the electronic trading environment.

How has it helped my organization?

Before Corvil, the business side of our company would talk to the client and would get first-hand information on what the client perceived as issues. They would convey that to the networking folks, and the networking folks would try to look into all the issues pertaining to that client. Troubleshooting was a long process. With Corvil, we are able to perform real-time analysis, monitor things in real-time, measure packet level and any packet-level details, and pull out specific scenarios as the case demands, all on a real-time basis. Corvil has enabled us to troubleshoot and analyze problems in real-time.

Previously, we had sniffers placed in the networking area and then we had to capture data and wait for an issue to recur. Then we could analyze the packets. Whereas now, Corvil has made it easy in terms of monitoring the entire network. It reduced the resolution time from days to hours or minutes.

Using Corvil, the time it takes to isolate root cause is less than an hour. If it's a monitored session already, it's easy to drill down and get to the root cause of the problem.

Corvil definitely delivers a performance advantage for our firm over our competition because we are able to address all issues on a near real-time basis. Obviously, clients look for venues that are more receptive to their needs and companies that listen to their issues. That's one of the reasons that most of the client flow is coming to our company.

We have a few devices on the client-facing side as well as on the internal banking side. Our primary focus was to get things analyzed in real-time for the client-facing sessions, and Corvil has helped us a lot on that. We are planning to get into the internals of the network on the banking side. We are trying to get those monitored as well because we have operations worldwide. We have a diverse network and it's good to monitor everything in one central location.

Corvil helps to correlate individual client or trade desk transactions to infrastructure and venue latency. That is what we primarily use it for. We make sure that the fill rates for a certain client are as expected, and the algorithmic trading as well. We look at the way orders get executed in different venues and which venue is giving us better fill rates. It's used for analysis and tweaking. We haven't gone to the extent of tweaking algorithms based on the Corvil analytics, but that will be in the pipeline.

In addition, it helps us to determine where to focus our performance improvement efforts. It frees up the resources who were looking at the network packets and looking at the connectivity and trying to analyze things packet-by-packet. Corvil does most of the job and frees up the folks who were doing that. It gives us a better picture and also gives us a better front end to navigate through. That's one of the reasons we are able to do it in real-time and monitor most of the venues.

We have seen an increase in productivity by using Corvil. At least when it comes to the people who were put to task when there was an issue - who had to set up the sniffers and try to record a session and analyze packets - it was a pretty manual task. That has improved drastically. Now, with the same number of people, we are able to monitor more sessions in real-time.

We run a dark pool and we have a lot of clients coming into it. The clients measure us by the latency we have in matching their orders. It gives us an ability to focus on points in our system that are bottlenecks, that have high latency, and enables us to make the processing speed more efficient and to focus on the right things.

Corvil has also very much reduced the time it takes to provide reporting or dashboards to answer business questions. The overall dashboard and the things that are seen by the trade desk - because they field the questions from the clients regarding fill rates and quality of execution - make it very easy for them to answer questions from the client side. It gives them more information at hand to answer questions from clients.

What is most valuable?

What is most valuable is the ability to troubleshoot when a client complains of spikes in latencies. It gives us the ability to go granular, all the way down to looking at the network packets and analyze them.

Regarding the analytics features, the good part is that it's not just the networking folks who are able to get an in-depth view of the client latency measurements. The business can also take a look and actively participate by looking at them. The front end of Corvil makes it appealing in terms of the ease of navigation and giving them an inside picture of what's going on with their clients.

We just use the basic, core features of Corvil. I know Corvil offers a lot more. As a company, we don't have too many experienced people who are able to write Corvil-specific stuff to make it more advantageous or useful.

What needs improvement?

To gain the specific knowledge that is needed to reprogram the analytics requires some training - either trained folks from Corvil or for people to go to some Corvil training. If that could be eased up a little, it would be even better. 

Overall, the Corvil device needs a little bit of training for people to handle it. If that could be reduced and made more user-friendly, more intuitive, it would be better.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using it for about two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's pretty stable. We have never had any issues or any side effects from Corvil being on the network.

The only times we've had issues is when certain sessions that needed investigation were not monitored to begin with. We had to manually add them and then wait for the issue to recur. But overall, as far as the device itself is concerned, we have had absolutely no issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Right now, we are running with a couple of devices but, of course, we need more bandwidth. Our networking bandwidth is higher than what the devices can actually handle. That's the reason we are reducing the number of sessions to be monitored to a bare minimum. We would like to scale more. But we need to make some business decisions on where to invest and which sessions to monitor, based on the benefits of monitoring.

How are customer service and technical support?

Corvil technical support is very receptive. We have never had issues with them. Whenever we have had issues or whenever we have had to raise tickets, they have been pretty prompt in responding back. We're happy with their technical assistance.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We had a diverse networking team. I'm not sure what other solutions were being used offshore in the Asia-Pacific region or the European region. But I'm not aware of our using anything before Corvil. We used to have some sniffers and things like that placed at random points in the network, but nothing apart from that.

We brought in Corvil because we are one of the few dark pools remaining in the US, one of the largest dark pools, and we wanted to be competitive for all our clients who are connecting to us. We wanted to improve on the latencies being seen on the network from the client's perspective.

How was the initial setup?

Initially, we had some issues, teething issues, while setting up. But over time, we overcame all that by sending folks to get some training and to get more familiar with the devices and more familiar with the network topology. That's a given whenever you set up a new device; you do have teething issues when setting it up the first time. We've learned a lot in terms of setting up the first one and going forward it should be easier.

Our first deployment took about six months.

In terms of our implementation strategy, we were trying to do analytics in real-time; that was our goal, to begin with. Obviously, Corvil offered that solution. We set it up in in a lab environment to start with. And then we made that device production-ready. The initial setup, the testing, and making sure that everything was fine, and then moving it to production, that's what took some time. Going forward it will be easier to add more devices if need be.

As for maintenance, it requires a small staff because, while the device is being used actively, we are not making any major changes. Even the business side gets to view the system through the Corvil interface. When we need changes, that's when we would need someone who is certified in Corvil. That's when we need more experienced folks, but right now it's on "autopilot."

What about the implementation team?

We had just our folks work on it. We had to send a few people to get trained and then do it in-house. We had two people in London and two in New York with enough knowledge and skills. They were people from market links team, who were looking after our client connectivity and the setting up of cross-connects and the like. They were the people involved in setting up this device and adding networking TAPs to get the device up and running.

What was our ROI?

When it comes to order execution and revenue, at this time we are just using it to analyze the network-level details. When it comes to running a dark pool, of course, the side effect of having the best execution is getting better revenue, better order flow. It does help in terms of keeping the system competitive.

I'm not familiar with the dollar amounts, what the business makes from the dark pool, but it has definitely improved in keeping it more up to date and competitive with respect to the other banks that are running dark pools.

What other advice do I have?

If you're looking at retrofitting Corvil to an existing network, it is a little bit involved in terms of where to TAP, to figure out what business data is flowing through. But if it's building a network from scratch, then keep Corvil in mind and get all the analytics captured at the right points. If you have some analytics device like Corvil in mind while designing a network, that will be helpful.

In terms of order routing decisions, that will be connected to the algorithmic tweaking I mentioned. That's coming, but right now it's mostly looking at the client sessions. 

We'd like to get all the sessions monitored. That's one of the highest priorities, as far as the business is concerned. Right now we are hand-picking certain sessions that need to be monitored and leaving the rest because of the bandwidth issues. So the number one goal is to get everything under the Corvil umbrella. And then we would start thinking about using Corvil at the next level to make some routing decisions.

In our company, Corvil is used by the trade desk, which has six people, and in networking there are another six. Overall, around 15 to 20 people are using Corvil in our firm right now.

I would rate the solution at nine out of ten. It gives us everything we need. The only negative is that it needs people who are more skilled to administer and manage the system.

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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