Cloud9 Widens Domestic and International Reach With Opening of Boston and Hong Kong Locations

Cloud9 Widens Domestic and International Reach With Opening of Boston and Hong Kong Locations

We’re happy to announce the opening of two new Cloud9 locations in both Boston and Hong Kong!  These additions, along with our recently-opened location in Singapore, will help us expand our domestic and global footprint to meet the growing demand for our service in the U.S. and APAC markets.

Cloud9 now serves hundreds of firms in 32 countries – and that number is steadily increasing every day. The rapid adoption of the Cloud9 platform by traders around the world is a strong endorsement that the trading community is looking for a more modern way to connect and collaborate with their counterparties.

The Asian market in particular is rapidly expanding, becoming increasingly important to our customers and to our growth.  As we continue to roll out globally, our Hong Kong presence will further boost sales in the region.

“This is the ideal time to bring Cloud9’s innovative technology to the Asian market,” says Barry Purkis, Global Head of Sales and Managing Director of EMEA and APAC. “We already have several firms throughout Asia that use Cloud9, and I look forward to leveraging our presence in Hong Kong as part of the company’s growth and success.”

In addition to these locations, Cloud9 also has offices in New York, London, Singapore, Chicago, and Houston.

To read more about how Cloud9 is helping firms globally, check out our case studies.

TradeX and Atlas Petroleum Markets Canada Implement Cloud9 to Streamline Merger and Enhance Brokerage Business

TradeX and Atlas Petroleum Markets Canada Implement Cloud9 to Streamline Merger and Enhance Brokerage Business

When TradeX Markets, a privately-held brokerage firm active in more 100 markets, and Atlas Petroleum Markets Canada, a subsidiary of Axiom Commodity Group, merged, the newly combined firm needed a reliable way to connect their brokerage desks across North America.  The firm selected Cloud9 Technologies to manage its communication networks and enhance its current voice brokerage business.

With the goal of providing unparalleled access to the North American trading market and major trading hubs in the U.S., the firm sought to eliminate legacy turrets with Cloud9 and Cloud9 Gateway Services. A modern, cloud-based trader voice solution, the Cloud9 Gateway enables users to seamlessly connect with trading firms not yet established on the Cloud9 platform, while maintaining functionality for both shout-downs and ring downs.

“We were excited about our partnership and chose Cloud9 because they are a best in class trading communication platform,” says Brad Hrycenko, President and COO of TradeX. “We are leveraging cloud infrastructure to provide the highest level of brokerage support, while adding new and innovative technology like Cloud9 to our technology stack.  We wanted to create a future proof platform for the newly formed entity, with minimal disruption to current trading operations.  Cloud9 enabled us to transition seamlessly, and will help us as we continue to scale.”

With Cloud9, TradeX completed a full turret replacement for Atlas Petroleum Markets Canada, bridging the lines that once went into turrets and enabling users to access those connections through the Cloud9 platform.

“Since installing Cloud9, we have been able to connect multiple brokerage desks across North America through one system. Brokers now have remote access to Cloud9 from anywhere in the world. As long as a user has an internet connection, they can log in and be able to talk to clients or collaborate between desks in a compliant-strict environment,” Hrycenko says. “Brokers and our trading counterparties are relying more on technology every day, and Cloud9 has allowed us to control all of our communications in one cloud-based system.”

President of Cloud9, Greg Kenepp believes many firms do not take enough advantage of modern technologies when it comes to trader voice. As numerous other functions in the trading process move toward the cloud, there’s no reason why communications shouldn’t follow suit.

“The cloud provides the optimal foundation for highly secure, reliable communication and collaboration,” said Kenepp.  “Cloud technology has proven itself in the enterprise and offers far too many advantages to overlooked by the financial services industry.”

The Cloud9 platform—which is underpinned by WebRTC technologies—is a cloud-based, real-time voice communication system that enables traders to connect to their counterparties via a community-based directory.   As Cloud9 continues to expand internationally, Kenepp hopes the advantages of the Gateway service will accelerate the company’s growth.

“The Gateway opens up the opportunity for customers to connect to every single one of their counterparties through the Cloud9 interface,” says Kenepp. “They’re able to continue doing business with those connections while gaining a resilient, mobile solution that frees them from the cost associated with legacy telephony lines. That is a huge value proposition for firms.”

Ultimately, TradeX chose Cloud9 to ensure high quality connections between their brokers and traders without the costly infrastructure usually associated with traditional voice trading turrets. “TradeX is a mix of product and service, user experience, technology, and data analysis.   Our connections and ability to communicate are critical to providing best execution services,” said Hrycenko. “TradeX and Atlas Petroleum Markets Canada were not prepared to rely on 40-year old technology provided by the stationary turrets.”

To learn more about how the Gateway service helped TradeX and Atlas Petroleum Markets Canada, read our case study.

All We Want For Christmas is More WebRTC

All We Want For Christmas is More WebRTC

See article in No Jitter.

As users of WebRTC, we’re in great company, with tech-giants such as Facebook, Slack, Snapchat, and WhatsApp utilizing it in their services. In fact, Blacc Spot Media recently reported that over $2.7 Billion in funding went to WebRTC companies in 2016.

Use of WebRTC, a versatile technology, is growing rapidly. WebRTC is being applied in many different ways, for many different audiences.  As technologists, we always want more, so recently I sat down with my chief architect, Andy Pappas, and we came up with our WebRTC wish lists for the holidays.

Leo’s Wishlist:

An Enterprise-Grade Managed STUN/TURN Server

With traditional SIP, there are Session Border Controllers (SBC’s) that exert control over signaling. However, in the WebRTC world, since we don’t have standard signaling, we need to get as close as we can to establishing an SBC. The solution would be an enterprise STUN/TURN server. STUN, formally Session Traversal Utilities for NAT (network address translation), basically echoes a public IP address back to the endpoint. TURN, Traversal Using Relays around NAT, acts like a lightweight media relay when a peer-to-peer connection cannot be established.

Some solutions have a STUN/TURN server for the enterprise but come with too many built-in features and require you to lock onto specific app’s servers. A simple STUN/TURN server with the management features needed by enterprises doesn’t exist today.

Support For RETURN

Since enterprises will continue to use symmetric firewalls, a STUN/TURN server will still be needed in the cloud. For the above process to work, the WebRTC stack must support RETURN to help avoid call failure. Recursively Encapsulated TURN or RETURN allows the browser to encapsulate two TURN servers in one.

Andy’s Wishlist:

More Efficient Peer Connection

In peer to peer networking, it would be great to have a more efficient Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) when multiple STUN/TURN servers are available. In this scenario, WebRTC can take a relatively long time and consume high CPU and memory when a user needs to connect to many peers in a mesh configuration.

A more efficient solution would be to cache or test a connection to a TURN server or list of TURN servers, have the call connect to those, and then later switch to a STUN server or continue with TURN. Right now we’ve customized how we connect to alleviate this delay and load, but there is a lot of room for improvement in this area.

Microphone and Audio Level Alerts and Limits

The detection of and alerts letting users know that they are too close to or have applied too much gain to their microphones would be helpful. If speech/noise statistics were collected over time, this could translate to an API that would signal users if they are operating the microphone incorrectly or were in an environment requiring a different gain level or microphone. Being able to add configurable microphone loss and boost within audio processing would be nice, as well.

An auto level or hard limit on incoming speech at the channel level would also help cases where multiple users are speaking at the same time, which is frequent in the financial services industry.

De-Reverberation Algorithm

Reverberation is a very common problem for a typical home or office user and can be a huge degradation to speech intelligibility on a communication platform. This is solvable with selection of appropriate microphone hardware, however a better, or complimentary, solution is to add a de-reverberation algorithm on the microphone. It might even be possible to characterize the environment by using the speaker-to-microphone acoustic path or model from the acoustic echo canceler.

What’s on your WebRTC wish list this holiday season?

For more insight on the future of WebRTC, we highly recommend these blogs:

BlogGeek.Me, run by Tsahi Levent-Levi: https://bloggeek.me/

Chris Kranky, run by Chris Koehncke: https://www.chriskranky.com/

Blacc Spot Media: https://www.blaccspot.com/blog/

 

Click here to learn more about how Cloud9 uses WebRTC to transform communications in the financial industry.

Webinar Replay: Industry Leaders Share Insights About Cloud Migration For Financial Firms

Webinar Replay: Industry Leaders Share Insights About Cloud Migration For Financial Firms

Cloud9 recently hosted a webinar with executives from Point 72 Asset Management and Amazon Web Services titled “The Cloud Catalyst: Driving Competitive Edge in the Financial Markets.”

Panelists included:

  • Seetharam Gorre: CIO of Point 72 Asset Management
  • Nitin Gupta: Global Head of Financial Services Partners for Amazon Web Services
  • Greg Kenepp: President of Cloud9 Technologies

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here.

The panelists contributed to an engaging conversation that touched on how the cloud creates competitive advantage for financial institutions.  The also discussed where and how firms can integrate cloud into their environments, and touched on key industry concerns related to security and compliance when migrating to the cloud.

The audience, which consisted of brokers, traders, and IT managers from a number of top-tier financial institutions, also shared their views on how they currently use cloud solutions as well as how the cloud is viewed at their firms.

During the call, three key insights emerged:

  • Firms are most likely to implement cloud for data processing and voice services.
  • Security and performance are top concerns among firms in the capital markets when migrating services to the cloud.
  • Key drivers in terms of cloud adoption include driving shareholder value.

Voice is Second Behind Data in Terms of Cloud Implementation

Out of the audience surveyed, 52% said that they were most likely to implement cloud for data processing, with 33% saying they would consider the cloud for for communications services.

As Nitin Gupta commented, many firms are turning to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to manage analytics dashboards and databases as well as large business intelligence processes. For firms in the financial markets, the ability to process this data using cloud technology revolutionizes their workflows.

In addition, firms are already shifting to cloud-based platforms as modern, reliable, cost-effective voice communications become necessary in today’s enterprise environment.

To make the full shift to the cloud in the financial markets, fintech firms often have to compete against established mindsets, a challenge that Gupta spoke about during the webinar.

“When we talk about transformation, it is less about technology, and more about change in philosophy and change in culture in an organization,” said Gupta. “I would even say it’s 20% about technology and 80% about how to drive agility and automation, how to change the governance structure, how to get in a devops mindset, and even how to change the revenue model.”

Seetharam Gorre emphasized the overall digital transformation in both the enterprise and consumer space as a motivator for financial services firms to transition to the cloud: “So much transformation has happened in the last 5-10 years in the cloud and the open source community. That is driving culture and that what is driving digital.”

Security and Performance Were Key Concerns

40% of attendees considered Security as the biggest concern when moving key processes to the cloud, followed by Performance, at 24%.

It’s no surprise that security is top of mind for financial services firms, but reliable cloud providers like Amazon Web Services mitigate the risk through advanced security practices as well as the benefit of a robust community. With over 2 million customers in a wide variety of industries, AWS customers receive the same degree of security as any other user on the platform.

As Gupta explained, “When a customer moves to AWS they inherit all the best practices of AWS policies, architecture, and operational processes built to satisfy the requirements of our most security-sensitive customers, whether it is FINRA, NASDAQ, Capitol One, the CIA, or the SEC – all of these customers are on AWS.”

Another security benefit of AWS is the shared responsibility model, in which AWS is responsible for the security of the cloud – including infrastructure and storage – and the customer is responsible for security in the cloud – including customer data, access management, and network configuration. This model enables fintech firms as well as financial firms using cloud solutions to focus on building better products.

This is something that the Cloud9 team has certainly benefited from in getting our products to market. As Greg Kenepp commented, “When you think about it [in terms of shared responsibility] I think the sky’s the limit on what you’re able to achieve and the type of service that you can deliver to your customer base.”

The Main Advantage of Cloud Lies in Expanding Shareholder Value

85% of attendees responded that cloud was essential to maintaining competitive edge. As the panelists explored throughout the webinar, key to this competitive edge is creating value for shareholders.

Cloud enables firms to build solutions quickly, get to market faster, and at a low cost. By lowering the barriers to innovation, firms that use the cloud are able to deliver a better customer experience, a better product, and deliver more value for their shareholders.

“If you have a new strategy and it’s going to take 6 weeks to procure hardware and test, total time to market is going to be two months,” said Gorre. “With the cloud it should only be a few weeks. At that rate we can test new strategies, deploy it sooner, and generate more money for the firm.”

By reducing the time it takes to get to market, as well as the time it takes to deploy, financial services firms are able to reap the rewards from cloud services much faster and without significant business interruption.

Kenepp commented on this experience from the perspective of Cloud9 customers: “When you think about traditional deployment cycles for communications equipment [in financial services], it could take up to a year from the time you decide to move to a new floor to installment. We can do that in a matter of hours now, which has been a remarkable change for our business and a real eye-opening change for our customers.”

Watch the full recording of the webinar to learn more.

How to Be a CTO in the Age of Digital Disruption (and Live to Tell About It)

There are many ways for for modern CTOs to ensure they’re forging the right path for their team and company. Start by asking the right questions.

Original Article in Network World.

I’ve built my career in a field where trader voice technology has only improved incrementally over the past 40 years. After decades of building legacy technology, my co-founders and I set out to disrupt the industry we had helped build.

Despite years of leading technology teams and large-scale product launches, I was presented with a unique opportunity to start from the ground up. I had to start from scratch with a new set of technology, build a team, create architecture that was future-proof, scalable, secure and compliant, and take on the task of educating our customers and my team about why WebRTC and the Amazon Cloud was the right technology for our stack. It was daunting task, but also a common set of circumstances for a modern startup CTO.

The Building Blocks

In the early days of Cloud9 Technologies, we knew what we wanted to build: a communication technology that eliminated the complexity and hassle of dealing with legacy systems. Our team drew its inspiration from modern communications solutions, that were hosted in the cloud, mobile-first and easy to use—such as WhatsApp. Network World CTO

The challenge was layering in capabilities that could support the deployment of solutions on trading floors and creating technology that could handle the communication complexities of that environment. In addition, the financial services industry is highly regulated, with unique security requirements, strict compliance mandates, and no room for error when it comes to communication. We had to ask ourselves three important questions:

1. What cloud provider do we choose? Will it evolve with us and allow us to scale efficiently?

2. Should we work with a technology stack we are familiar with or attempt something new?

3. How much of the technology will we have to build up versus leveraging an open source technology that we can build on top of?

The CTO as Evangelist

If you’re embarking on a journey to displace incumbent technology, you’ll quickly find yourself in the role of both CTO and evangelist. It is important in terms of driving new technology that both your customers and your developer team view you as a resource and a thought leader.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening and engaging with customers via support calls in the early days, as well as interacting through social media, speaking engagements and sales calls. Developing a sense of trust and understanding between you and your customer helps open them to the possibility of adopting your solution. Also, once you begin to see your product from the perspective of your customers, you’ll be better able to address their needs and bring value.

It’s also important to show off the accomplishments of your team and share how you’re adapting certain technologies to build your product. Early on, we participated in a thought leadership forum with Amazon, discussing why the cloud was ready to handle critical operations such as communication. We chose the technology we’re using for a reason, so it’s important to stand next to other thought leaders and validate your technology story.

We also empower our employees to do the same. It’s important to encourage them to complete new certifications, attend conferences and participate in local meetups. It serves as a great reminder that what they’re doing has impact and meaning on the world outside of the company.

The role of the modern CTO comes with more hats and responsibilities than ever before. But by asking the right questions and setting up the right building blocks for your company, you’ll provide a solid foundation on which to build a successful and scalable product. Use that foundation to empower and promote the accomplishments of your team. By establishing your team as a thought leader, you attract the trust of current and future customers who will support and advocate for your company.

Follow Leo’s Column on Network World.