The story we were told at a bank that I cannot name is that all their time synchronization was the domain of an engineer tucked away for 30 years in the home office, a fellow known as Professor Time. The system he had built was remarkable in its complexity and fragility. Nobody seemed to understand how it worked. Accuracy was highly variable. There was no management, no documentation. We never got to meet the Professor, but I always thought of him as something like this.
In the past, the enterprise time synchronization market was composed of vendors that sold boxes to IT teams that were responsible for architecting a solution from GPS clocks and free software that was not at all designed for the job. Time synchronization is a specialized field that is a lot more complex than it may appear. And quality has become more of an issue as trading speeds and volume have increased so much. Some firms have responded to the change by scaling up their synchronization staffing. Some have relied on luck. Some hope that heavily marketed new technology in PTP aware routers will solve their problems.
Over the last couple of years, we have been building out technology to provide financial trading firms and other organizations that need precise timing with an alternative to the boxes+ custom-in-house approaches. We have built client and server software that is fault-tolerant, cross-checking, with sophisticated alarms, easy configuration, and graphical web management/data-analysis tools. And we’ve put that software in powerful server computers that can serve time directly at 10Gbps (and better) and that have all the standard enterprise features (like lots of storage for archival records and dual power supplies). All the parts are designed to work with each other and to connect in a flexible, resilient time distribution network. Our new partnership with Spectracom brings their extensive hardware expertise, distribution and support infrastructure into the mix.