Remember when the name Reuters was most closely associated with supplying news to the media? As the world’s largest news and television agency, Reuters still provides the most current events and information, now in 23 languages to some 300 broadcast clients in 93 countries.
But Reuters also offers a variety of other information products to investment firms, the banking industry, and key companies that rely on Reuters for data in the truest sense of the word—facts used as the basis for conclusions. Around the world, decision-makers depend daily on financial information supplied lightning-quick by Reuters. This means that the data not only must be accurate, it also must be available over networks that are completely secure and completely reliable.
Products and Services
Of the wide variety of information products and services offered by Reuters, the data products fall into three core categories: financial, media, and professional for managers of companies other than finance and media. Financial information products bring news and prices right onto a customer’s computer screen. Transaction products in this category enable traders to deal in foreign exchange, futures, options, and securities markets.
Two services available as part of the Reuters Transaction product line are the Dealing and Matching services that typify the company’s requirement for internal network integrity. The Dealing Service has been integral to foreign exchange and money markets for the past 17 years. It was the first dedicated system designed so traders could communicate with 24,000 service users in more than 110 countries.
With a single keystroke, traders can make contact anywhere in the world and enter into an electronic conversation on a secure, private network supported, managed, and operated by Reuters. Each Dealing key station can support up to 26 simultaneous conversations.
As traders converse, the system’s artificial intelligence captures exact details of the trade including deal type, currencies, volumes, value dates, rates, and counter-party information. The system then creates electronic and hard-copy records.
The Reuters electronic Matching Service, also used for international foreign exchange markets, matches bids from traders with available forwards or futures. The Matching Service not only matches the type of bid with the available future or commodity, but it also takes into account the different currencies involved in international trading as well as the available credit that can be extended to the customer interested in making the purchase.
Authorized bank personnel are responsible for setting and maintaining credit limits, which can be modified any time during the trading day. In transaction services of this kind, the flow of data, though continually changing, is essential for closing the deal. This means that the data flow cannot be delayed or disrupted.
Reliable Networks and Analysis
Under these stringent requirements, if a networking problem should occur, it would have a ripple effect in lost time and money not only within Reuters but also to the companies they serve. To eliminate these problems and closely manage the flow of data, Reuters has established a proprietary, hierarchical networking strategy that separates the Dealing and Matching Service networks, then brings them together on a single proprietary LAN at their customers’ sites.
To avoid unpredictable problems that often occur intermittently and over long periods of time on the Dealing Service network, particularly on the Matching Service Ethernet LAN, Reuters uses a protocol analyzerfrom Digitech called NetTracer, designed specifically for these applications. The analyzer provides transaction logging and archiving and locates anomalies that can cause problems with Reuters’ high-security financial transfers, online banking, and securities services.
The Reuters network is designed with extensive built-in error messaging, but the company also requires more in-depth analysis of the network level to get a broader sense of exactly what transpired and to isolate specific problems. To accomplish this goal, Reuters needed a protocol-analysis device with large amounts of disk space that could create a profile of the event, including up to an hour’s worth of data before and after the event occurred.
The NetTracer captures enough traffic to show anomalies, node activity, and messaging that travel along the network. The capability to catalog a burst of error messages occurring even at odd hours assists Reuters in locating potential problems before they have a chance to significantly affect the network.
Reuters’ network environment has a number of key stations that facilitate data flow for financial transactions. These transactions occur via Reuters’ proprietary protocol and over their various network layers. The NetTracer can be placed at any network level or even at a customer site and can capture large amounts of network traffic directly to its hard drive (up to 72 GB) without losing any data. During data capture, the analyzer’s features still are fully accessible for data display, seven-layer decode and analysis, filtering, and other network test functions.
For optimal viewing and data analysis, the flow of raw traffic and detailed decode display can be customized. The analyzer can be left unattended to continue capturing data until the hard drive is full and can be set to overwrite previously captured data. Or, as in a common Reuters application, the data can be downloaded to a 4-mm data cartridge for review and analysis.
To avoid additional network load and maintain maximum security, Reuters does not send captured data back over the network for analysis. To meet this policy requirement, the NetTracer has an internal 4-GB SCSI tape drive so captured data can be downloaded and archived on tape for further analysis. A data record of this type also gives Reuters a basis for comparison if a transaction question should arise.
To further guarantee data security, the analyzer encrypts the captured data traffic, which can be decrypted only by Reuters’ authorized network personnel. If a problem occurs even intermittently at a remote office, that network’s administrator can save travel time by exporting the analyzer’s complete compressed file buffer to tape and then sending it to the main office for analysis.
Even with a large amount of captured traffic, the NetTracer navigates through the data and analyzes a problem based on the time at which the transaction occurred. The analyzer captures traffic in blocks of time called time buckets.
For example, if a customer has a question about a transaction that occurred at 2 a.m., the analyzer can filter that block of time to isolate, analyze, and decode transaction data by filtering on the customer’s station address. The time bucket also can be filtered to isolate other transactions occurring at the same time that could have adversely affected the transaction in question.
The NetTracer includes a library of predefined advanced filters. The filters isolate, by protocol down to the bit level, specific frames that otherwise would be too difficult to distinguish if all the data traffic were displayed at one time. Up to eight filters can be activated simultaneously from the library, and a number of filters can be added, deleted, or edited.
Part of the Reuters network management strategy includes weekly statistical analysis, internal quality-control targets, and an off-line analysis tool. Data gathered by the NetTracer can be evaluated by the Reuters statistical analysis programs which assess network performance.
One of the largest companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange, Reuters offers numerical, textual, historical, and graphical databases. The company also designs and installs enterprise-wide information-management and risk-management systems for financial markets. Reuters services are delivered to clients via an extensive private satellite and cable communications network. At peak times, Reuters updates 3,200 prices and other data per second with 50 million changes handled daily. This is an environment that cannot tolerate network problems.
For a perspective on the broad scope of Reuters’ capabilities, the company obtains financial information from 282 exchanges and over-the-counter markets and contributed by 5,008 clients. Reuters has 1,946 journalists, photographers, and camera operators in 183 bureaus serving 157 countries. Approximately 10,000 stories made up of 1.5 to 2 million words are published daily. In June of this year, Reuters Group employed 16,898 people in 212 cities in 95 countries.
Reuters provides news and information to more than 225 Internet sites and reaches an estimated 12 to 14 million different visitors each month, generating approximately 100 million page views via the four major portal sites: Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, and Infoseek.
With such a wide variety of products and services all dependent upon reliable networks, the Reuters network serves as a good example. The company’s internal fail-safe methods help achieve the company’s goal of providing accurate, up-to-the-minute data.
Reuters puts the highest premium on the data supplied to provide clients with a solid foundation on which to base their daily planning. If knowledge is power, and if the beginning of knowledge is having good data and getting it quickly, then Reuters offers data that can empower a vast number of people around the world.
About the Author
Adele Annesi is the marketing communications manager at Digitech. She has worked in the field of high-technology network test for the past 11 years and with Digitech’s LAN, WAN, and ATM protocol analysis products for the past five years. Digitech-LeCroy, Berkshire Corporate Park, 4 Berkshire Blvd., Bethel, CT 06801, (800) 821-2265.
Copyright 1999 Nelson Publishing Inc.