While members of the industry have been considering the adoption of FIXML, the XML-enabled version of the FIX standard protocol language, Lexana, Kan.-based Innovision Corporation recently took the ground-breaking step in offering a first-of-its kind FIXML solution. At the SIA Technology Management Conference in June, Innovision demonstrated its staple Java-based products-the multiprotocol Innovision Financial Server and the Innovision Financial Webtop-now configured with FIXML capabilities. Dain Rauscher Wessels, which is piloting the products, presented both the server and the Webtop using FIXML to power its trading application.
"XML is a technology that has a lot of people talking about its inherent capabilities," Bill Cary, Innovision CEO, says. "What differentiates Innovision from the talk is that we've actually implemented a strategy and a commercial product line that allows a financial institution to quickly license this technology and deploy it at very low cost to support a variety of end-point applications that their sales-force is requesting."
According to Cary, with FIXML-capable Innovision Financial Server institutions can facilitate information delivery among a variety of endpoints including Web browsers, databases and trading applications. For instance, Innovision demonstrated using XML protocols to deliver financial data to wireless devices including Research in Motion Limited's BlackBerry Wireless Handheld.
Several years ago, Cary adds, firms adopted the FIX standard hoping that it would achieve interoperability among different systems involved in securities transactions. But, as technologies evolved, FIX lost some of its edge, and XML protocols proved more efficient to deliver content particularly to online sources. Through XML, data and content can pass directly from endpoint to endpoint regardless of the end formats.
"What FIXML does is it puts FIX in a Web/wireless world, and the reason it can do that and solve that problem is because it's inherently an open standard based on XML protocol technology," Cary said. "That combined with the goals of many IT organizations to support a variety of endpoints-including the Web and wireless devices-makes it a perfect match for the securities industry."
Firms having obtained Innovision Financial Server can integrate it directly into an order management system or, as it is a multiprotocol server, against an existing FIX engine if one is in place because it follows many of the same specifications. The server is compatible with most major platforms including Sun Microsystems' Solaris and Windows NT. In addition, the Innovision Financial Webtop acts as a "visual interface or representation" of applications displaying the data sent by the server, Cary explained.
Minneapolis-based Dain Rauscher Wessels is the first to pilot the Innovision Financial Server and Webtop to deliver information via FIXML. According to Dain Rauscher Wessels Project Managers Mark Hendrickson and Dave Bluhm, the company has installed the Server and the Webtop, but it is still slowly developing and integrating the product and deciding a strategy for its use. It plans to have FIXML up and running by the end of third quarter this year.
"What we're looking at doing is tying the contact management system in real time so we can send indications of interest to push them in real time through the system," Bluhm said of Dain Rauscher's goals for the use FIXML protocols. "We'll have two-way real-time communication between the trading desk and institutional sales desk."
Dushyant Shahrawat, analyst at TowerGroup, notes that the Innovision Financial Server has much potential to help institutions adopt FIXML easily. "I would say it is the first of its kind," he said. "But it wouldn't be fair to say that they were the first in the XML space. I think they were one amongst a few of the leaders ... Some of the leading firms on the sell side that are going to try their hand at Innovision Financial Server."
According to Shahrawat, the FIX committee has tentative plans for the migration of clients from FIX to FIXML. Because the committee does not expect the entire industry to have migrated before the next year and half to two years, it will continue to upgrade FIX, as seen with the most recent FIX version 4.2. Nevertheless, more and more firms will migrate to FIXML during that time, and developers like Innovision will be in a good position to meet the demand for companies wishing to support applications with FIXML.
Shahrawat points out that FIXML is interoperable with other XML protocols, such as FpML, FinML ebXML and the recently XML-based version of OFX, and the upgraded standard will make it easier for different sectors of the industry to communicate with each other. Innovision Financial Server may be instrumental in helping to facilitate that communication.