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Swiss Pitch Component Middleware at Real Tim

Softwired, a two-year old Zurich start up, has released a new middleware product aimed at real-time financial applications developed with components that run over intranets and extranets.

Softwired, a two-year old Zurich start up, has released a new middleware product aimed at real-time financial applications developed with components that run over intranets and extranets. The latest version, iBus 2.0-announced March 8-is a new generation of Java-based publish/subscribe software meant to work with distributed applications, such as delivering stock quotes to a group of trader applications via an intranet. Instead of the old request/reply model which uses point-to-point connections between client and server, iBus offers communications channels, similar to radio channels, so there is a one-to-many connection. The listeners are components which are part of distributed applications. According to Softwired's white paper, "the trader applications subscribe to the channels of interest from which stock quotes are received at the time they are published." Because iBus has a small footprint-240K-it can be embedded in small devices, such as PDAs, pagers, and smart cards, and be used to transmit and receive real-time financial data via satellite and to any device type.

Thus, ibus could threaten older middleware technologies such as object request brokers (ORBs) based on CORBA, which use a synchronous protocol to communicate and must maintain the steady connection to the server, whereas iBus communicates asynchronously, says Octavio Marenzi, principal at Meridien Research.

Arthur Neudeck, a technical consultant for Java, at Systor AG, a systems integrator working with banks and insurance companies in Basel, Switzerland, says: "It is the only way to connect components in the future."

Robert Cocchi, CEO of SoftSolutions!, Bergamo, Italy who works with distributed software systems in Italy's financial industry, explains "with i-Bus you publish something on a channel, named ibus:///Quotes/NYSE/GE.Quote, and any client just subscribes to the same channel, not something like sun5.morganstanley.com:3555. The advantage is that all channels are independent of their effective location," he says.

Though iBus executives say the product is positioned for "knowledge management and e-business initiatives", Marenzi says these are "catchy buzz words," and notes that ibus "seems to be competing with Tibco," the dominant provider of publish/subscribe into trading floors. "Clearly, Tibco is older technology, it has been around longer. They have a better market position and that is what I would see as being a direct competitor, and a tough one to compete with," says Marenzi.

But Cocchi, who has developed on information buses, such as Tibco, Triarch and Fist, says, "like cars and PCs, all software ages." Cocchi envisions using iBus in "light market data viewer applications in which market data is collected from existing information buses (i.e., Triarch, Tibco and Fist) and published in Java clients." Another difference with iBus is that the developer can extend iBus with "as yet unsupported qualities-of-service and protocols" such as a particular channel or transmission mode for data. Hence, iBus is not a "blackbox middleware."

Softwired, headquartered in Zurich, recently opened an office in Cambridge, Mass., headed by Andria Rossi, president of U.S. operations. Go to www.softwired-inc.com. Evaluation copies can be downloaded from www.softwired-inc.com/ibus. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio

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