Alpha Exchange Improves Performance, Reduces Cost by Migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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May 30, 2012

Alpha Exchange has been able to keep its position as one of the fastest-trading platforms in Canada through the use of Red Hat® technology. Alpha has seen dramatic improvements in performance, plus cost savings, and enhanced staff productivity.

Customer: Alpha Exchange

“The combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and HP servers really excels for the type of workloads we do." -Aleksandar Simic, head of infrastructure, Alpha Exchange

Geography: North America
Country: Canada


Business Challenge:

Alpha Exchange has been able to keep its position as one of the fastest-trading platforms in Canada through the use of Red Hat® technology.

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5
 

Hardware:

HP ProLiant Servers

Benefits:

Alpha has seen dramatic improvements in performance, plus cost savings, and enhanced staff productivity.

More
Background:

Alpha Exchange is part of Alpha, an organization set up by nine leading Canadian financial institutions in 2007 to reinvigorate trading in Canadian markets at a time it was characterized by a lack of liquidity, efficiency, innovation and state-of-the art technology. After having achieved substantial results in the Canadian trading space with its Alternative Trading System (Alpha ATS), a marketplace competing for the trading business with other organizations such as the incumbent exchange, Alpha decided to bring similar change and benefits in the Canadian listing space. This led to the formation of the Alpha Exchange, the new generation Canadian exchange built on the principles of entrepreneurship and operational excellence. Alpha Exchange will not only foster quality listings and liquidity, but also re-energize innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada across the industry sectors that have been neglected over the past several years. For further information regarding Alpha Exchange, visit www.alpha-group.ca.

Business Challenge:

To stay on the leading edge of technology innovation
Alpha has introduced significant cost savings and superior technologies to the Canadian industry. The company operates for the benefit of all participants, including the trading public, and offers increased liquidity and reduced latency through advanced technology. Alpha “doesn’t do” general purpose computing, said Aleksandar Simic, head of infrastructure at the company. The company’s own technology standards are very high. Technology at Alpha has a mandate to deliver availability, speed, and execution predictability to the marketplace. “The faster our systems, the more business we attract,” said Simic. “Excellence is how we distinguish ourselves. This means we demand a lot from our vendors.”

In keeping with the most efficient and leading infrastructure platforms, Alpha moved on to Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®. “Things move very fast in financial services,” said Simic. “We always have to be on the leading edge, if not the bleeding edge.”

Alpha’s hardware partner HP performed an extensive benchmarking of its trading applications on HP hardware running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with “surprising results,” said Simic. “Surprising in a good way, in that we got results that were significantly better than what we expected.” The third reason was simply cost. “Had we stayed with our previous vendor, our cost of running the business would be much higher than if we switched to Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” said Simic.

Solution:

Red Hat, HP, and Scalar Decisions: The right combination
In early 2010, the technology team at Alpha began to evaluate changes in the IT industry landscape. “We attempted to predict and evaluate pending changes within the IT industry and identify potential risks to our future technology developments,” Simic said. “Given that our number-one priority was to avoid the obsolescence of the then-in-use operating system, we decided to move to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as soon as possible.” For the same reason, Simic was planning to do a hardware refresh and transition to an HP ProLiant Server platform.

With the help of Toronto-based systems integrator Scalar Decisions Inc., Alpha’s team of infrastructure specialists began migrating the existing Alpha platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux in mid-2011. Scalar Decisions is a leading provider of technology solutions and consulting services for the Canadian market, and takes a holistic approach to solving complex customer problems. “The knowledge and expertise of the Scalar team differentiates them from other value-added resellers (VARS) and systems integrators,” said Simic. “They really played a critical role throughout the process.”

Benefits:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux leads to remarkable performance gains
Within six months, Alpha completed its migration. Today, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and HP ProLiant Servers support the production environment.

For Simic, one of the greatest values of moving to Red Hat is that he no longer has to worry about an operating system that is risking obsolescence. In addition, there are the performance gains, which have been “remarkable,” said Simic.

Alpha is certainly doing something right. Since launch, it has gone from a start-up breaking into a highly competitive niche to processing, on average, 20 percent of the transactions in the Canadian securities marketplace. “Our culture is very entrepreneurial, and we’re focused on superb execution in particular,” said Simic. “With Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we’re able to deliver exactly that.”

Finding the right hardware and software combination has also been key to Alpha’s success. “The combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and HP ProLiant Servers really excels at the type of workloads we do,” said Simic. “The difference in performance compared to our old environment is both noticeable and measurable, and because of the cost differential, we not only gain the benefit of speed, but also maximize the return on our investment. In the end, this leads to better service to the customers we serve. Our partnership with Red Hat gives us a definite competitive advantage with stability, predictability, and performance,” said Simic.
 

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