Neueda Knowledge: Senior Software Engineer Laurence Darragh talks .NET

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Since Microsoft’s increased involvement with open source, we’ve seen the popularity of .NET grow once again. For the latest instalment of our Neueda Knowledge series, we sat down with Senior Software Engineer, Laurence Darragh, about the role of .NET today as well as his experience working at Neueda.

Laurence, can you tell us a bit about your role here?

I joined Neueda as a Senior .NET Software Developer 18 months ago and now have 6 years’ experience in this field of development. During my time here, I’ve worked across both Enterprise Services and Capital Markets which has given me exposure to customer projects across many industries. My first project was for a local public sector organisation, developing a web application where I spent time on-site with the client. I’m currently working on a communication application for an international client, with a team of 6 developers working from our office here in Belfast.

Can you tell us about the communications app?

Sure, it is a .NET desktop application that leverages VOIP technology to enable traders to instantly communicate with each other on the trading floor while removing the need and costs involved in physical infrastructure, such as leased lines. As you can imagine, the speed of communication, reliability and responsiveness of the application is crucial to the traders and is always at the forefront of the application’s design. On this project, the use of C#’s asynchronous features has been prevalent and has enabled us to meet the customer’s needs.

How have recent changes in the .NET Framework helped evolve this client’s project?

Microsoft’s release of .NET Core – a cross-platform, performant, lean and best of all, opensource development framework – has presented some exciting opportunities for both the client and the developers working on the application.

Plans are in place to reengineer our trader communication application using .NET Core. Its new features will enable us to work alongside the UX experts to design and develop an application to run seamlessly on touch screen devices across multiple platforms, not just Windows.

How has the .NET framework changed in the time that you’ve been a developer?

As a leading global organisation, Microsoft has the resources to enhance the .NET framework and its primary language C#, and so is continually introducing new features into the framework. Previously, the Microsoft stack was locked down to Windows Server and IIS, meaning the cost of running your services was going to be much higher compared to other technology stacks which can run on Linux servers, including C#’s main competitor Java. Microsoft’s newfound love for opensource and the arrival of .NET Core has changed all of this. It now offers a cross-platform technology stack and development platform that runs across Windows, Linux or MacOS, meaning .NET and the C# language is in greater demand than ever before.

What’s it like to be a .NET developer at Neueda?

Neueda is a great place to be a developer, whatever your framework or language. There’s a vast variety of work with exciting projects, new technology and the ability to learn which is fantastic for personal development.

We’re ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology and have an excellent developer community within the company with a broad range of skills, personalities and experience. If there’s not an immediate solution to a problem, we can always find it in our wider team.

We’re always looking for experienced .NET Developers to join the team and have a wide range of interesting projects, like the communications app for traders, for them to work on.

Stay tuned to the Neueda blog to get more insights into life at Neueda, what we’re working on, and the talent we’re seeking in 2019.

 

Faster, better decisions – Data and the Cloud

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Organisations worldwide understand that one of their most precious assets is data. Managed correctly, data provides rich insights that lead to informed business decisions and ultimately more effective, efficient, competitive performance.

However, data is only of true value if it can be accessed, collated and interpreted accurately, without draining a huge amount of time and financial resource.

The growth of cloud computing continues to have a significant impact on how data is managed, evolving traditional approaches to more efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Using the cloud, organisations can easily and cost-effectively access large amounts of storage and compute power. Platforms can be developed quickly, then tested, scaled and flexed in the cloud as required, with no capital expenditure on hardware.

But how does this work in practice? By way of illustration, Neueda recently helped a client use a cloud-based data platform to solve an ongoing operational problem quickly and effectively, with tangible results.

Regularly struggling to define the addresses of its customer base, this utilities provider was experiencing issues around servicing, communicating with and billing its customers accurately.

To solve the issue, Neueda reviewed the company’s existing data architecture and used a full Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution, ensuring minimal admin and maintenance was required. With Microsoft Azure machine-learning techniques, customer addresses could be automatically validated to an agreed accuracy threshold, with a second stage of validation built in for any addresses that didn’t meet this.

The system has dramatically improved the organisation’s address system. Having accurate addresses has in turn improved operational effectiveness, enhanced customer service quality and saved both costs and time.

This project proves three advantages of using the cloud to manage your data:

  1. Gain access to valuable insights quickly
  2. Remove the need for major investment into hardware
  3. Scale and change the solution as your requirements develop

Managing your data in a smart way will empower your employees, help you innovate and stay ahead of the competition – so making it a priority will only take your organisation forwards in a positive direction.

We’re helping our customers become modern data-driven organisations – to find out more, visit Modern Data Platform or contact the team by emailing ModernDataPlaform@neueda.com 

Bringing Efficiencies to the Northern Ireland Energy Market

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With a decade of experience working in the energy sector, Robin McLaughlin has been at the forefront of the NI Energy industry. As Neueda’s Principal Consultant for Energy and Utilities, we caught up with Robin to find out more about the role Neueda has played in changing the face of energy regulation in Northern Ireland.

Robin, can you tell us about your role at Neueda?

I’m primarily responsible for supporting the engagements with Neueda’s Utilities customers. As part of this role, I am the Market Entry Coordinator within the retail energy market in NI working alongside NIE Networks. This role seeks to provide assurance around new electricity supplier entrants, as well as annual reassurance services that apply to all retail market participants in maintaining their certification status.

Tell us more about the annual reassurance services.

In 2015, we applied our wealth of industry knowledge to develop a process where we could monitor the accuracy of the transactions of NI electricity market participants. A year later, we automated this process using QlikView guided analytics software. We took our designed process to all NI Energy market participants and the NI Utility Regulator who approved its use and agreed performance targets.

What’s been the result?

The scorecard Neueda proposed to benchmark market communications was implemented and is used to provide comfort in the market and also to pinpoint specific process issues either with an individual market participant or indeed the market as a whole. We are also able to use projections to quantify what these issues are costing businesses.

We report to the NI Utility Regulator and the individual market participants in the sector every six months. Since its introduction in 2015, it has led to a reduced swing movement in errors of around 40% across the sector. Given the volume of transactions in the market, this equates to a huge saving in both time and money.

What has this meant for Neueda clients and the industry as a whole?

It means we’re able to educate market participants on the errors that their staff or indeed the industry is making, and pinpoint how they can improve their processes. However, the benefits go way beyond individual companies; it makes the wider NI electricity market more efficient, which is something we’re particularly proud of.

Stay tuned to the Neueda Knowledge blog series for more insights into the work we do and the impact it’s having beyond our business.

First MiFID II, now Brexit – Neueda helps financial institutions prepare in these uncertain times

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Brexit has shown us that change is inevitable – it joins a long list of political and regulatory changes that have caused huge headaches for financial institutions. Banks were just recovering from a MiFID II induced hangover when the massive implications of Brexit became clear-ish!

At Neueda, we have helped our customers navigate numerous regulatory and exchange changes over recent years, most notably MiFID II and Euronext Optiq upgrades. We have been partnering with Tier 1 Investment institutions and vendors in their preparations for Brexit since 2017, whether it be through programme support or development capacity.

This places Neueda in the unique position of being able to leverage experience across these projects to assist everyone in our customer base. Our team of highly skilled front office engineers and programme managers are typically delivering these upgrades/changes across asset classes for our global customers. With this breadth of experience, Neueda understands the technical nuances that exist within exchange implementations and is well positioned to deliver significant efficiencies.

In this time of uncertainty, one certainty remains – exchange and regulatory change is inevitable and if anything, its pace will accelerate.

If you would like to talk to us about helping to meet these peaks in demand, please get in touch – CapitalMarkets@neueda.com

Neueda Knowledge: Front office testing is a tough racket

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Investment firms typically have multiple OMS platforms, each supporting numerous venues. Managing the plethora of exchange driven changes in this backdrop of highly complex internal platforms with the added pressure of zero tolerance to trading disruption is a nightmare for front office engineers. These demanding requirements are hampered further by the fact that exchange test environments are usually only open during trading hours – hardly conducive to producing high quality software.

Developers often solve this challenge by creating automation frameworks during downtime that testers struggle to maintain, or testers find themselves trying to fit development in around manual testing. We’ve witnessed cases where teams within larger organisations have developed competing automation frameworks to automate the same processes.

At Neueda, we’ve developed our fair share of order entry applications giving us the impetus to develop an Exchange Simulator product supporting numerous European, US and APAC equity exchanges. This has afforded us the opportunity to repeatedly refine our approach to testing these applications, applying the things we’ve learnt especially from testing all protocols for our exchange simulator.

Scrutiny is the culmination of this experience – a test automation service comprising our technology – Etiqet and our Exchange Simulator – our processes and our team of front office automation experts. We work with key stakeholders on all sides to understand existing pain points and propose areas for improvement. Through applying our technology and/or through development of bespoke applications we help deliver efficiencies and improve the time to market for trading applications.

Figure 1: An example Etiqet feature file that displays some of the functionality available to developers

Neueda Etiqet is an open source test automation framework that has been designed to provide users with all the functionality required to write advanced test cases for FIX applications in an easy to understand, self-documenting format. The architecture is highly extensible, allowing users to add support for their own messaging protocols.

Etiqet is freely accessible at https://github.com/blu-corner/etiqet We encourage you to use it in your next test-run and let us know what you think!

Neueda Exchange Simulator provides engineers with a dedicated, closed test environment to create highly complex, repeatable trading scenarios for many of the world’s largest equity exchanges. With numerous extension points, customers can customise message flows on the fly to setup highly unusual scenarios e.g. message delay, message reordering or modification.

Get in touch

To discuss how Scrutiny, Etiqet and/or Neueda Exchange Simulator can benefit your business, get in touch today – scrutiny@neueda.com

Neueda Knowledge: Hugo Espresati, Senior Software Engineer, talks Java

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Over the years, we have seen Java earn its place as one of the leading programming languages for enterprise applications. We spoke to Neueda Senior Software Engineer Hugo Espresati about the role of Java today, as well as his experiences working at Neueda.

Hugo, can you tell us a bit about your role here at Neueda?

I currently work as a Java tech lead on-site with one of Neueda’s clients, managing a team of six. When Neueda offered me the role, I knew it was time to leave Spain, broaden my horizons and head to a new country. I’ve been living in Belfast since July 2017 and love it so much that I’ve decided to stay here long-term.

Has the application of Java changed in the time that you’ve been a developer?

Java is still applied in different areas for a variety of reasons in both large or small scale applications. Dependence has indeed decreased due to other powerful languages, like C# or Python emerging but Java is still a leading language for large applications for enterprise organisations.

Is there are a shortage of Java developers?

There certainly is, which I find surprising. In Belfast, as well as the rest of the UK, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find Java professionals at any level. Typically, most UK developers are educated in mathematics or physics and so don’t possess a deep knowledge of computer science. This barrier makes it even more challenging to find senior software engineers.

How do you think this shortage can be solved?

I think developers need to be more flexible and open to trying other languages. When I’ve conducted interviews for developers, the candidates have software development expertise in one or two languages. However, if you have a good all-round understanding of programming (Object Oriented programming in this case), it would only take a matter of weeks to get your head around Java. It’s worth making the time investment, as Java professionals are in high demand right now.

What’s it like to be a Java developer at Neueda?

There’s so much variety at Neueda. You have the opportunity to work on different projects and technologies should you want to, which can help developers to stay fresh. The wider team is also always on-hand to collaborate with you and offer any support you might need.

The people are what really set Neueda apart from the rest. I’ve found them to be dynamic, willing to share knowledge and happy to answer any questions, even if you think they might be silly! We always work as a team, and there are a number of initiatives including mentoring for less experienced staff and bespoke training programmes.

What can you say about the Neueda culture?

I love that I get to socialise with my colleagues. I’m a social person and everyone has been so welcoming, helping me to feel at home. In fact, I moved to Belfast on a Thursday, and I was out getting to know the team on Friday! Because I spend a lot of time working in our clients’ offices, it’s important that I still have the opportunity to meet all of the new starts and remain a key part of the team. Anyone who joins Neueda is warmly welcomed and treated like family. I love it.

Stay tuned to the Neueda blog to get more insights into life at Neueda, what we’re working on, and the talent we’re on the lookout for.

 

Neueda Knowledge: Belfast – New York – London

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Every month on the Neueda blog, members of our team will share key learnings and experiences from our latest exciting projects. This time we hear from Software Engineer Michael Malanaphy and a project that took him from Belfast to New York to London (and back again).

Background
I joined Neueda in July 2015, as the company’s 39th employee. It was a big moment for me because my dad was Neueda’s very first employee many years ago. It’s been something of a family affair as my younger brother also joined the Neueda two years ago.

Onboarding and role
Neueda puts a lot of trust into its employees; when I joined as a Software Engineer, I was assigned my first client and project on day one, so I was able to turn on my laptop and get started right away.

Initially, I was responsible for legacy systems and exploring ways they could be improved. It was an initial 30-day project in the public sector division, but it ended up turning into a year with all public-facing websites changing and improving. As this project was coming to an end, I was asked to move into our capital markets division with my skills utilised on challenging projects in a new industry with global clients.

Big Apple

I was given the opportunity to travel to NYC to work on a project for one of the world’s biggest banks. Python Developers were required to support an internal trading application aimed to help their traders track and research company information. It was an exciting challenge given that Python was a relatively new language for me, which was great for my professional development  in preparation for the three-month project.

The aim was for our team of six to learn the system while we were out there so that we could work on it remotely from Belfast. We rotated working in the bank’s New York and New Jersey offices while living on Manhattan’s Wall Street. Being based in the client’s office gave us the opportunity to experience the reality of their day-to-day working life. We had to communicate effectively with the wider team without taking them away from business-critical tasks.

London
Following this successful trip to New York, I was then asked to work with the client’s London team, so divided my time between London and Neueda’s Belfast head office; one month on and one off for 12 months. This was a highlight for me as I have a lot of friends in London and the team I worked with there were also really welcoming and friendly.

I feel so lucky to have experienced living and working in two of the most exciting cities in the world and, with another potential project coming up, there are more adventures with Neueda on the horizon.

Neueda in three words

Challenging, fast, fun. While the work can be challenging at times, everyone supports one another, and you get out exactly what you put in. Plus we have a lot of craic [definition: fun]!

Stay tuned to our Neueda Knowledge blog series to gain exclusive insights into Neueda projects and the experiences of our team. You can also find out more about becoming part of the Neueda team and working on groundbreaking projects for some of the most exciting organisations in the world. Click here and be part of something special.