March 7, 2022
A 1-second delay might not seem like an issue in the grand scheme of things.
There are 86,400 seconds in the day, which you’d assume would give servers plenty of time to recover from high latency (where, according to Lifewire, average levels should be less than 100ms).
However, when we delve into the detail of a seemingly tiny delay on websites and applications alike, the consequences are truly brought to light.
- 53% of website visitors will leave if loading times exceed 3 seconds.
- 90% leave after 5.
(Source: Wowza Media Systems)
In the case of finance organizations who are trying to secure trust and reliability in their platforms, such as DeFi for bitcoin trading, seemingly inconsequential delays could have a devastating effect.
Latency delays are not only disrupting for the user but can also make a platform significantly harder to navigate. For a company that relies on either a website or application to sell goods or services, this will damage relationships and lead to negative reviews.
Networks stutter when a network node “carries excess data packets than it can actually handle.” (Source: Medium). It can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- distance to server
- propagation delays
- internet connection type
- WiFi and router
- website and application content
Sadly, many of these are out of a software engineer or mobile developer’s control, making latency a difficult issue to address.
Low latency engineering focuses on reducing loading times between the cause and effect of a physical change in the system being observed, such as a user entering their login details or clicking “purchase” on a web cart. It focuses on what a software owner can control, and distributes resources to reduce server lag.
To this day, software engineers are continuously innovating networking communications to impact overall user satisfaction - and even control the general usability of a system. This is of great interest to many capital markets, but, in 2022, we are seeing a shift in alternative sectors that benefit from low latency engineering.
According to a report by the Financial Times, “low-latency trading occurs on the networks used by financial institutions to connect stock exchanges and electronic communication networks (ECNs) to execute financial transactions.” Ultimately, it needs to react to events faster than an institution’s competition in order to increase the profitability of individual trades.
Low-latency engineering in finance has seen incredible success and has gone on to drive new software development techniques in other sectors.
Thousands of industries have been adopting gamification to reward motivate their employees. Similarly, the VR market is growing at a CAGR of 19.0% - scaling from $7719.6 million worldwide in 2020 to $26,860 million in 2027.
Low-latency engineering in gaming will revolutionise customer and business interactions, keeping delays minimal and retention times high. To make the VR world realistic and engaging, VR systems want less than 20ms latency and a bottom rate of <7ms (Source: X in Reality).
Medical Technology has rebounded after COVID-19, with an EY article reporting:
- Record Deal Activity: 288 M&A deals were made from June 2020 to June 2021.
- Industry Growth: 94% of commercial leaders reported improved revenues in Q1 and Q2 of 2021, up to a collective 30% increase.
- Increased Investment Opportunities: Valuations were up 55% in 2021, attracting $9.1 billion venture capital - a 34% increase from the year previous.
This can be attributed to a newly enhanced focus on user experiences, where patients browse their health records and track updates from medical professionals.
Low-latency engineering could take MedTech to the next level, enabling live communications and rapid updates on appointment times and surgery requirements.
The rapid growth of the digital sector from 2021 to 2022 was spurred by the worldwide adoption of digitalisation. This fulled the aptly-titled “Internet of Things”leading to huge segments of business operations to rely on network connectivity.
Advancements in low-latency engineering will secure the future of the digital industry, with businesses and individuals alike needing responsive access to communication channels, cloud services, user interfaces, eCommerce stores and even platforms for investment and cryptocurrency mining.
Low-latency engineering balances high volumes of traffic with a platform that can process the information, transferring data from centres to users. Examples of use cases include online meetings, gaming, and trading. The faster the infrastructure, the more competitively a business can gain - putting themselves miles ahead of alternative platforms.
The Cisco Nexus SmartNIC is one case study of a technology company that moved to enhance intent-based networking for organizations that “require high performance and instantaneous connectivity” - allowing users to submit transactions and receive stock ticker feeds. It uses an ultra-low frequency interface card to allow trade processing to be offloaded from the CPU to reduce latency for the end-user.
Groupon undertook an extensive low-latency engineering challenge in order to show the best promotion code available to each user on the product details page. They designed responsive software on Java, Akka Play Framework 2.6.0 (Source: Medium) to keep campaign metadata close to the evaluation engine and reduce loading times for their retail sites.
Low-latency engineers can be useful across a variety of projects in different high-tech sectors, from software and application development to continued management and review.
If you’re either:
Then a low-latency engineer would make a useful part of an overall software team, working in tandem with software developers and UX designers to create an end result worth being proud of.
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