By Tony Hilliard, Chief Commercial Officer, Amulet Hotkey
Technology executives in financial services face a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help redefine workplaces to improve efficiency and competitiveness. New technologies enable them to embrace hybrid working models and workstation virtualization. Thanks to these virtualization technologies, industry leaders can leapfrog forward to create positive organizational change.
What is trading floor virtualization?
Trading floor virtualization has always presented a competitive advantage for forward-thinking businesses. Desktop virtualization refers to a software technology that is implemented to simulate a workstation environment and access desktop computers using a connected device, present locally or remotely.
The global desktop virtualization market is expected to exhibit strong growth of 13% CAGR from 2021-2026, according to Research and Markets Inc. One of the main drivers of growth is the increase in remote work environments following the coronavirus pandemic. Coupled with the rising levels of cloud deployment, remote working is creating a positive outlook for the market – and huge opportunities for businesses to apply desktop virtualization to achieve a competitive advantage in the world of distributed work.
The link between virtualization and competitiveness
Having worked with over 200 financial clients in more than 50 countries across three decades, we have noticed that the most successful firms have been quick to recognize and act on the competitive advantage that trader workstation virtualization unlocks. Traditionally, many trading businesses did not successfully virtualize their trading floors, leaving significant competitive advantage and opportunities untapped. This was due to legacy reasons, as trading happened only on trading floors and that’s the way it had always been done. However, it was also because technology uptake in wholesale financial services generally lagged behind other sectors – and this was the case until surprisingly recently.
Now, on the sell side, banks invest heavily in technology, and some have transformed into technology companies, in some cases employing more developers than Google. On the buy side, we have seen that asset managers with the strongest growth relative to their peers all invested early in advanced technology. Technology is front and center for financial businesses focused on managing costs and disruption, innovating ahead of market changes, and driving growth.
Virtual desktop infrastructure is a crucial enabler of digital transformation, as it helps enhance operations, improve decision making, and create new opportunities. Post-pandemic, trading businesses are re-imagining the traditional approach to trader workstation architecture. The design requirements of high-performance, low-latency, reliability, and flexibility all remain crucial, but agility is also now an essential requirement. Successfully virtualizing the trading floor and providing access from anywhere enables users to work in any situation without compromise. Businesses that embrace advanced workstation virtualization to maximize the power, agility, and security of their operations will emerge as leaders in the post-pandemic age.
The many benefits of virtualization
Trader workstation virtualization boosts competitiveness in multiple ways. With advanced virtualization solutions, traders can log in to their virtual workstation from any authorized device, at any location, which significantly lowers the costs of installations, moves, adds, and changes on the trading floor. Businesses can react quickly to market conditions, as well as changing workflows and seating plans, with less notice and less risk. They can also source, hire, and retain talent from a wider geographic area, which improves the competitiveness and diversity of their business.
With a virtual desktop infrastructure, traders can connect to their virtual workstation from their desk on the trading floor, disaster recovery site, or home office, without logging off or losing any work, and with no loss in performance. The trader’s virtual workstation can be migrated from one server to another, or even from one data center to another, which further enables business continuity.
Locating virtual trader workstations in the data center, in the same room as market data feeds and servers, can reduce latency, particularly with modern algorithmic trading scenarios. Co-locating data in this way can yield a significant competitive advantage for traders.
As no data leaves the data center, and only encrypted pixels are sent to the user location, sensitive data remains in a secure data center environment. This reduces risk, strengthens regulatory compliance, and ensures protection of intellectual and physical property.
When a traditional workstation fails under a trader’s desk, it takes time to repair or replace. The cost of this business downtime can be considerable. However, a resilient virtualization architecture can deliver significantly greater uptime and eliminate nearly all risk of losses due to workstation hardware failure.
In addition, powerful workstations located under traders’ desks generate significant levels of heat, and these traditional trading floor workstations cost more to cool than servers in a thermally efficient data center. Accordingly, designing virtualization into a new trading floor at the point of build can save millions of dollars in infrastructure costs.
Remote trading technology is now used by tens of thousands of traders around the world. As these technologies mature, they will unlock ever-greater value in mission-critical and data-intensive trading businesses to help create the optimal trading floor of the future.
With a 25-year background in tier one technology vendors, channel partners, and tech start-ups, Tony Hilliard has a wealth of experience in leading global sales and customer services teams. Based in London, Tony is responsible for the strategy and execution of Amulet Hotkey’s customer engagement and go-to-market programs. Tony joined Amulet Hotkey in 2012.