FIX FAQs

The FIX Protocol

B2BITS FIX Engines

B2BITS Testing Services

The FIX Protocol

1. What is FIX?

FIX stands for Financial Information eXchange. It is an open protocol owned and maintained by The FIX Protocol Organisation. Essentially it is a universal messaging 'language' that brokers, fund managers and exchanges use to communicate securities transactions. However, in itself it is not a software application; it only dictates the format that the message and the means of maintaining the conversation must take.

FIX messaging has multiple advantages over conventional trading by phone and fax:

  • Speed - execution occurs more rapidly after decision making
  • Reduction in error rates - through less manual involvement
  • Time saving - traders can deal with more clients and trades as each trade takes less time to execute and not all trades require manual intervention

2. What is FAST?

FIX Adapted for STreamingSM (FAST) protocol is a technology standard developed by The FIX Protocol Organisation, to optimize communication in the electronic exchange of financial data on the network. FAST, at its core, is a data compression algorithm allowing significantly reduce bandwidth requirements and latency between sender and receiver. It is used to support high-throughput, low latency data communications between financial institutions. In particular, it is a technology standard that offers significant compression capabilities for the transport of high-volume market data feeds and ultra low latency applications.

3. Who uses FIX?

Brokers - enables brokers to accept more incoming trades by reducing the time taken to process each trade.

Exchanges - enables exchange members to contact multiple exchanges via a single process and to send orders more quickly and more cheaply. With the performance levels achieved by FIX Antenna, we are ready to enable exchanges to self-distribute quotes using the FIX protocol - possibly over UDP - we can facilitate this at both the distributor and recipient site.

ECNs and Crossing Networks - enables ECNs to come to market with no need to force proprietary communications technology onto clients, reducing barriers to entry and increasing potential client base, as well as the benefits to all exchanges mentioned above.

Portfolio Managers - use FIX to access more pools of liquidity, get better prices and trade more efficiently. By using FIX, rather than phone or fax, portfolio managers can connect to significantly more brokers and ECNs. FIX also enables brokers to receive real-time market information either to track their existing positions or to receive general market data including news, IOIs, advertisements and quotes.

4. Why FIX rather than a proprietary electronic trading protocol?

To use an analogy, it is rather like working on a trading floor of 20 people each of whom speaks a different language. Learning 19 languages would be a waste of resources and time; therefore most people would only learn the few languages they absolutely needed to conduct their business, tolerating some inefficiency in their work to avoid up front costs. The better solution is to all learn one common language - an Esperanto for financial markets - this is the role that the FIX (Financial Information eXchange) Protocol fulfils.

B2BITS FIX Engines

1. How does B2BITS FIX engine range differ to that of competitors?

Vision

The common language of FIX needs a translator from internal data representations - a FIX Engine - in order that a firm can begin to gain the business benefits of FIX. The business difficulty has been that to build or buy such a translator has been expensive, so comparatively few could justify such expenditure. FIX engines have been affordable to, and implemented by, only the largest buy-side and sell-side firms.

B2BITS has from the outset developed its software in order to fulfil the original vision of the FIX Protocol as a lingua franca for all financial market participants through the introduction of engines (FIX Antenna) and services at affordable prices.

Speed

FIX Antenna C++ is the fastest performing engine in the marketplace, achieving 30,000 messages per second on entry level hardware.

Support

B2BITS views software without support as incomplete. We do not charge license fees. All our products are sold on the basis of a comprehensive contract which includes:

  • A full technical support agreement
  • All subsequent improvements to the software, including changes to the FIX protocol and any improvements in functionality
  • All improvements made on request by individual clients are passed back to the supported user base unless deemed proprietary by them
  • Access to other value-added services such as testing and diagnostic tools

In this way B2BITS' single incentive is to provide the best possible service to our clients, as our revenues are dependent on renewal of these support agreements.

2. Who are B2BITS' Clients?

References from the companies are available on request. We have over 70 companies worldwide using our software.

3. FIX Engine - FIX Antenna Java

FIX Antenna Java offers outstanding reliability, ease of implementation, and supports transformation between different FIX versions and between FIXML and tag value format.

We have recently released the latest version of FIX Antenna Java which has resulted in a significant performance improvement. The Java engine is now capable of over 25,000 messages per second on single processor hardware. Again this is class leading performance.

4. FIX Antenna QF Adaptor

FIX Antenna QF Adaptor was developed in response to high demand from the open source QuickFIX© community users to achieve substantial improvement of the latency characteristics of their trading applications. It provides means for smooth migration to high performance FIX Antenna C++ engine with no or minimal effort. Users can get economical advantage of continuing using the open source interface where performance of QuickFIX is sufficient and leverage FIX Antenna C++™ on latency/ throughput critical connections.

5. FIX Engine - FIX Antenna C++

FIX Antenna C++, formerly known as FIX Antenna V12, is the industry leader in performance, benchmarked at 30,000 messages per second on a single processor machine.

FIX Antenna C++ also received the highest user satisfaction rating for a Sell-Side FIX Engine Vendor in the FIX Protocol Committee commissioned report European FIX User Survey. FIX Antenna was rated on three metrics and received 4.5/5 for "technical performance" 4.5/5 for "functional coverage" and 5/5 for "support staff". In the overall ratings FIX Antenna was top with 4.7/5.

6. FIX Engine - FIX Antenna .NET

FIX Antenna .NET has been designed to provide native support of Microsoft .NET technologies enabling quick and easy integration into any custom .NET application. While enabling all the benefits of Microsoft's .NET framework it retains all the benefits of B2BITS class leading FIX engines. The .NET engine delivers performance of over 35,000 messages per second on a single CPU. The .NET benefits include the ability to manipulate messages with the use of class hierarchies, properties and namespaces, XML based documentation for all messages, and the ability to generate structured messages. FIX Antenna .NET provides an extremely easy way to integrate support of the FIX protocol into any .NET application. It is specifically designed to improve the productivity of .NET programmers even if they are novice FIX users.

7. FAST Antenna Codec

FAST Antenna Codec is specifically designed to deliver high performance. It has been benchmarked to decode more than 100,000 FIX messages per second and to encode more than 100,000 FIX messages per second, 900,000 entries per second and 10,000,000 fields per second on average. This level of performance makes it an ideal solution for exchanges, and sophisticated trading algos consuming market data. FAST Antenna Codec is currently used in some of the most demanding environments in the world.

8. What is FIXEdge?

FIXEdge is a server application that provides FIX connectivity for standalone client applications. Client applications communicate with FIXEdge through one of multiple transport protocols (e.g. Simple Sockets, TIBCO, CORBA) employing transport adaptors. It is designed to be as easy as possible to install, configure, administrate and monitor trading information flows. It is written in C++ and has a performance profile suitable for the needs of all clients up to and including large sell-side institutions and large volume traders.

The FIXEdge project was started with Sun Microsystems to be marketed as a package that included two Sun servers configured in a HA cluster with the FIX Antenna C++ Sun edition pre-installed and configured (refer to Sun B2BITS FIXEdge data sheet). Eventually, the project grew into an autonomous selling product with a wide range of features that were not included in the original package. The FIXEdge product has been endorsed by companies such as Autex, Thomson Reuters and OMGEO as a preferred connection mechanism.

9. FIX Engine Performance

FIX Antenna C++, our flagship product, is the fastest engine currently available in today's market place. It can deliver over 60,000 messages per second on a single CPU and has been benchmarked at 30,000 messages per second across 200 sessions. This level of performance means it is an ideal solution for exchanges, sell sides and program trading operations. FIX Antenna C++ FIX engine is currently deployed in some of the most demanding environments in the world.

10. What asset classes (Equities, FX, Derivatives, Fixed Income etc.) can I use FIX Antenna to trade?

The FIX Antenna family of engines supports all asset classes specified within the FIX protocol. This includes: Equities, Foreign Exchange, Futures, Options and Fixed Income.

11. What versions of the FIX protocol do B2BITS engines support?

All of our commercial engines (Java, C++ and .NET) support FIX versions 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.0, 5.0 SP1, 5.0 SP2 and FAST 1.1. As part of the support and upgrade package which all our Clients have, we supply upgrades to newer versions of the protocol at no extra charge. This ensures your implementation stays abreast of new developments as they occur, without any extra cost.

12. Platforms

FIX Antenna C++:

  • Windows, Linux, Solaris

FIX Antenna Java:

  • Any platform with a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) available

FIX Antenna .NET:

  • Windows

FIXEdge:

  • Windows, Linux

13. APIs and Integration Paths

B2BITS offers a variety of APIs and integration paths to its FIX Engines in addition to the engine's native API. You may select a single or multiple API or integration paths. There is no additional charge for delivering or supporting the interface.

The following interfaces are available:

  • Native
  • CORBA
  • MQ Series
  • Simple Sockets
  • JMS
  • JDBC/ODBC
  • SOAP
  • TIB
  • ACTIVE X / COM

14. How much does this cost?

B2BITS operates an annuity model for its' software. The license fee is included with the annual support, upgrade and maintenance fee.  The fee starts as low as $2,000 per production machine*. We also offer licensing models with extended support, OEM licensing models, as well as discounts based on number of purchased licenses. We do not charge additional fees for the number of messages or the number of sessions. Backup, development and testing licenses can be purchased at 50% of the production license cost.

For more details on software licensing options refer here or contact us at sales@b2bits.com or  +1 (888) 378-0666.

15. Is software escrow available?

B2BITS offers on-demand licensed software source code escrow as an additional means of your business risk mitigation. To guarantee software availability for supporting our customers' critical business operations, in 2009 we entered into cooperation with NCC Group, one of the world's leading software escrow providers, by depositing the source code for our proprietary solution -FIXEdge application server. Later on we also added the source code of our flagship FIX engines -FIX Antenna C++ and FIX Antenna Java - to the deposit storage provided by NCC.

B2BITS Testing Services

1. FIX Antenna Certification and Testing Service (FACTS 2.0)

The FIX Antenna™ Certification and Testing Service enables trading parties who use the FIX protocol to substantially reduce the time and cost of compatibility testing. FACTS 2.0 allows sell-side and buy-side firms to quickly and easily detect and mend a full range of problems related to violations of the FIX protocol specification and of application level conventions.

FACTS 2.0 is a script-based testing service that can be customized to mirror the FIX implementation of any sell side or exchange. It tests both session-level and application-level messages. It is interactive and offers an immediate diagnosis of any problems discovered.

FACTS 2.0 is ideal for testing compliance to the FIX Protocol Ltd 'expected behaviours' specification. It was designed in conjunction with Kevin Houstoun, at SSB-CitiGroup. Kevin sits on the European Steering Committee of the FIX Protocol organization.

2. FIX Log Analyzers

FIX Eye and FIX Grep are the new generation forensic tools to work with FIX logs. These utilities are the result of many years of experience in FIX support. It is the next generation of log browsers, which go beyond traditional parsers and are equipped with full knowledge of FIX objects and their state management.