To cope with the growth in stock trading volume and the need for a simplified data management, Yuanta Securities (Hong Kong) Company Ltd (YSHK) upgraded its IT infrastructure to NetApp’s all-flash architecture.
As a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Yuanta Financial Holdings, YSHK is a brokerage firm offering brokerage services, corporate finance and asset management services to institutions, corporate customers and individual investors across Asia.
Difficulty in managing legacy architecture
The brokerage firm first started using NetApp’s converged infrastructure in 2014 to replace its complex IT legacy architecture. Its legacy architecture included 200 servers with hard disk storage devices that were purchased from various server and storage vendors, creating pain points in IT management.
“In the past, we deployed 200 servers for different uses like developing, testing and running applications and storing our databases. Managing them, particularly in server maintenance or replacement, was extremely painful for us,” said Bro Huang (pictured right), head of IT at YSHK.
The introduction of Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX) in November 2014 led YSHK to review its IT architecture. YSHK needed a platform that could scale up and scale out to meet its changing needs.
Converged infrastructure with hybrid storage
After evaluating offerings from several suppliers, the brokerage firm finally bid farewell to its legacy architecture and turned to NetApp’s FlexPod in 2014. As a converged infrastructure, FlexPod consists of Cisco servers, network switches and NetApp hybrid storage array with 2TB flash.
FlexPod was pre-validated by Cisco and NetApp, therefore YSHK did not need to do proof-of-concept (PoC) prior to deployment.
“As FlexPod had already been certified by Cisco and NetApp, it saved our time in evaluation and carrying out PoC. We just spent two to three months to migrate our legacy architecture to FlexPod,” he noted.
According to NetApp, FlexPod creates an agile and scalable platform for hosting applications certified by NetApp and other FlexPod offering suppliers. Since all the components of FlexPod are designed with usability and flexibility, it simplifies managing a growing and ever-changing infrastructure. It enables YSHK to quickly expand its infrastructure such as adding new flash storage or servers.
Following the success of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, HKEX launched the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect in December 2016.
Stock Connect is a securities trading and clearing links program developed by HKEX and the Stock Exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen, enabling mutual market access by investors in the three markets.
Upgraded to all-flash array
Since the launch of Stock Connect, YSHK expected tremendous growth in the daily trading volume and the need for more effective data management. The brokerage firm decided to upgrade its IT infrastructure by adding NetApp’s all-flash storage array at the end of last year to facilitate a faster trading platform.
“We were the first batch of brokerage firms to launch the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. With the growth in trading volume, a large amount of data is coming from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen for us to handle and analyze,” he said. “We need a solution that can provide increased storage capacity and I/O performance.”
He added, “Financial services providers like YSHK have a higher requirement of transaction speed, latency and backup. As we provide trading platforms for customers across Asia, a stable, fast and efficient system is of paramount importance.”
Two sets of NetApp’s A300 enterprise all-flash storage array were installed in YSHK’s data center. Its total storage capacity was increased from 2TB to 15TB. To preserve its storage investment, YSHK kept FlexPod and used it as an offsite backup tier. NetApp SnapMirror and SnapVault technologies are used to perform data replication and backup functionalities respectively.
Higher performance & cost savings
With NetApp’s all-flash architecture in place, YSHK experienced a number of benefits in terms of trading performance, cost and manpower savings, data management and customer experience.
“Since our deployment of NetApp’s systems in 2014, we saved HK$20 million in infrastructure, power, data center physical space, IT manpower and maintenance costs,’ he noted.
According to Huang, YSHK speeded up stock trading transactions by three times, offering an enhanced experience to customers. The brokerage firm also gained power savings of 35% and physical space savings of 67%, reduced required storage capacity by 50% due to deduplication and the number of required servers from 200 to 50. Only two dedicated IT team members are required to manage the brokerage firm’s IT infrastructure.
NetApp’s unified storage supports various storage protocols like NFS, FCoE, iSCSI, bringing simplified management while preserving storage investments.
Moving forward, YSHK is exploring the adoption of public cloud and software-defined data centers.