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Daiwa Securities America - 2008 JBoss Innovation Award Winner
March 7, 2008
Daiwa Securities America submitted by Steve Dunstan, Vice President / Enterprise Systems Architect
Customer: Daiwa Securities America Inc.
Migration of 120 separate applications running to JBoss Portal using a series of unified templates. This enabled rapid growth, increased productivity, faster service, and hundreds of thousand of dollars in cost-savings.
Daiwa Securities America is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daiwa Securities Co. Ltd. of Japan. The subsidiary focuses on sales and trading of Japanese and U.S. equities and fixed income instruments, financial futures, and investment banking, including mergers and acquisitions and structured finance. For the year ending March 31, 2007, Daiwa Securities America had andyen;14,684,000,000 (134 billion dollars) in net operating revenues.
In 2006, we successfully migrated one section of our prior portal to JBoss Portal. The section we migrated contained our Compliance Dashboard, a portal that ensures new financial and securities compliance regulations remain updated and implemented across our company. We initiated the migration because of the serious problems we were having with our prior vendor—not just technical, but organizational, and with tech support in particular. Because we are small and agile, we were more bleeding edge than their other customers; we had stressed the prior vendor’s platform to the breaking point. The prior vendor’s support team couldn’t answer any of our questions and were unable to support their own product. In addition, the slow speed and unreliability of the prior vendor’s portal was becoming an issue for our users, and the complexity of porting new applications was an ongoing problem for our IT department.
Based on the ease of the Compliance Dashboard migration and the resulting stability we experienced, we decided to migrate the remainder of our applications onto a new JBoss-based portal. Because we are on the leading edge of technology, we also needed a solution that we could support ourselves. This gave an open source solution a natural competitive advantage.
When we had the problems with our prior vendor, we brought in a large, well known IT vendor for an interview. From their very high-level PowerPoint presentation, it became apparent that our agile corporate culture was not in line with theirs. We also evaluated another vendor’s product, but it was overly complicated.
On the other hand, our previous experience with JBoss products and technical support had been excellent. We had purchased a support subscription for the Compliance Dashboard and used it during our JBoss migration. When we had problems with the applications we were building, we were able to leverage JBoss support, sometimes communicating directly with the engineers who actually coded the program. The high quality of first-line support JBoss provides impressed us. We don’t have to go through a bunch of call center people to get answers to a problem.
We required a high-performance solution that was stable, fast, and flexible. Our IT department needed to be able to roll out new applications quickly and insert them on-the-fly. We also needed to gain more control over the vast number of applications that were running on the portal because supporting them was difficult and time consuming.
Our portal had about 120 applications built on top of it, and we weren’t sure how we were going to perform the migration. We completed a broad analysis of the applications, looked at what they did and what they were used for, and found that they all did pretty much the same thing. They were mostly database-driven applications with minor differences in the inputs and outputs (commissions, broker dealer set-up, client set-up, etc.).
We used JBoss Portal to front end the database. Then, we designed an idealized template that described our applications in terms of how they “mine” that database, and ran the Velocity templating engine to regenerate all of our applications on the new JBoss Portal. Once we decided how to do this, it only took us three months from development to production. To complete the migration took one year. We had four people working on it: one person worked on the bulk of the templates; three developers handled the others that were more complicated or needed different business rules.
Our back-end database is Sybase running on a Solaris server. For development, we are using a single four-CPU server that is front ended by Apache on a single CPU Solaris box. For production, we have a Windows 2003-based server online, with a hot backup (the total number of servers is doubled because of our disaster recovery setup).
Our key people took the JBoss for Administrators class 18 months ago. We currently have a Premium Subscription to the JBoss Portal Platform and are very happy with the high level of support we receive. During the migration process, we also worked with a JBoss consultant. We had some tough integration problems related to security, so we asked for help from JBoss. They got the job done.
- From the user’s perspective, the biggest gains were speed, reliability, and ease of use. Since all of the applications are now from a common source, the method of operation and presentation of data is consistent from screen to screen. As a result, we’ve reduced training cycles for employees.
- From the developers’ point of view, we can create new applications in far less time. The compile time for an application dropped from five minutes in the prior vendor’s portal to less than a second in JBoss. In addition, the modularity of JBoss allows us to plug new pages into the portal easily. With our prior vendor, we either had to roll the entire portal (which took over an hour), or use WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portlets), which had lots of inherent problems. With JBoss, we’ve experienced much shorter development cycles, which means we can be more innovative in our approaches.
- The JBoss solution is also easier to maintain. With our prior vendor’s product, we had some difficult, opaque technical problems that we were never able to get resolved. Now, when we have a really tough problem, we look at the JBoss source code to help us debug it.
- Because we’re only running one program, the applications are also easier to maintain. When we find a bug, we re-roll the applications and the bug fix propagates to all of the pages.
- The system is far more reliable, as well. During the last year, we have had no unscheduled down time.
- Our IT team’s credibility with management has improved significantly. Since our applications no longer crash, management is now comfortable coming to us with their problems and required improvements. Turnaround time for developing new applications they request is only a few weeks.
- JBoss has provided us with the scalability we require. Since the time we switched over to JBoss, the number of applications running has increased from 120 to 170, and continues to grow at 40% a year.
- In strictly monetary terms, we’re saving $90,000 by eliminating the prior vendor’s support costs.
If you’re going to be a fast, nimble organization, you need to consider open source options. The ability to self-support yourself means that your down times will be minimized. It also means that you can develop cutting-edge applications by exploiting the openness of the program.