Lahore Stock Exchange powers mission-critical trading platform with Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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April 1, 2010

Proprietary software issues led the Lahore Stock Exchange to consider transforming the infrastructure platform for its base trading system to a robust, scalable, reliable, high-performance, and secured alternative.

Customer: Lahore Stock Exchange Limited

“Implementing our trading platform on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform has given us the necessary competitive edge in the market to provide standardized solutions based on Linux” Ashrafuddin Syed, head of IT, Lahore Stock Exchange

Geography: EMEA
Country: Pakistan


Business Challenge:

Proprietary software issues led the Lahore Stock Exchange to consider transforming the infrastructure platform for its base trading system to a robust, scalable, reliable, high-performance, and secured alternative.

Migration Path:

Microsoft Windows Server to Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, Oracle Data Guard solution, Oracle DB with one application at 500 GB and the other application at 100 GB

Hardware:

Intel processor-based IBM System x servers, EMC SAN storage

Benefits:

Overall, Red Hat provided LSE with an enterprise-class solution that is high in performance, robust, and secure at an affordable price.

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Background:

Lahore Stock Exchange Limited (LSE) is the second largest stock exchange in Pakistan, after the Karachi Stock Exchange with a market share of around 12-16 percent measured by daily traded volumes. It is located in Lahore, Pakistan and was founded in October 1970, under the Securities and Exchange Ordinance of 1969 by the Government of Pakistan. LSE today maintains 519 listed companies in 37 sectors, and has total capital of Rs. 556 billion ($6.5 billion) with market capitalization of approximately Rs. 3.64 trillion ($42.8 billion). Since it was founded, LSE has experienced significant increases in growth, ranging from the number of listed companies to its internal employee numbers. To scale with these changes, LSE has upgraded its IT infrastructure, including both hardware and software platforms. LSE was the first stock exchange in Pakistan to strategically leverage the Internet, and the majority of its transactions are currently completed via electronic trading. About Azeemi Technologies (Red Hat partner) Azeemi Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is a leading IT consulting firm that provides end-to-end IT services and solutions to government and corporate sectors in the Middle East, Africa, and Pakistan. The company offers a complete range of technology infrastructure products and services, as well as systems integration services, and outsourcing solutions. Azeemi Technologies is an alliance partner with Red Hat, Oracle, Quest Software (TOAD), Microsoft, and Symantec.

Business Challenge:

To provide agile service to its customers, such as stock brokers and brokerage firms, LSE maintains a heterogeneous IT infrastructure with 15 varied software systems. Previously, all of these systems were based on the Microsoft Windows Server operating system with the Oracle database. Two out of the 15 varied mission-critical systems were operating at their maximum usage; these are the centrally hosted back office systems, which are being used by 60 brokerage firm customers and also run the custom-built trading platform.

“The performance of these two systems is critical, as both are client-facing,” said Azfaruddin Syed, head of IT, LSE. “Of late, with the increase in the transaction load, we were facing lots of performance issues in these systems,” he adds. Not only was the system performance slow, but there were also many other issues with the Windows platform. The platform was not scalable to the company's needs. “The trading terminal would slow down when the number of concurrent users crossed 250, which happened frequently,” said Syed. The trading servers also had to be rebooted daily after trading hours, creating additional burden on their manageability. LSE was also facing a lot of issues in performing the back-up operation, as it was very time-consuming. Additionally, there were many security threats in the Windows environment that made running a  mission-critical system with confidential data highly risky.

All of these issues led LSE to consider transforming the infrastructure platform for its base trading system to a robust, scalable, reliable, high-performance, and secured alternative.

Solution:

With reliability, scalability, performance, and security criteria in mind, LSE’s IT team chose Red Hat as its trusted technology partner and decided to build its mission-critical trading platform and back-office systems on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat's open source solutions were an ideal fit, as they not only met these criteria, but also allowed LSE to avoid proprietary lock-in.

“Before finalizing our decision to standardize on and migrate to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we evaluated Microsoft Windows 2003 server, IBM’s AIX server platform, and Oracle Enterprise Linux, but there weren't any significant performance gains on these systems,” said Syed.

Red Hat’s partner Azeemi Technologies aided in the implementation. “Red Hat has built a strong ecosystem of open source technology-based products, services, and certified partner applications. Red Hat's ecosystem of certified hardware and software applications is very broad and made our decision easier,” said Avais Haider Ali, GM Consulting & Support, Azeemi Technologies. “Also, there are many Red Hat success stories in the middle east, which encouraged LSE to finalize on Red Hat,” he adds.

The proof of concept using Red Hat Enterprise Linux was highly successful. “In fact, we could achieve more than 100 percent performance gains with Red Hat compared to our previous solution,” said Syed. With such success, LSE’s mission-critical systems, including its back-office system and automated trading system, were moved to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating platform. “Implementation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux was one of the key milestones in our IT deployment, as it was the first time LSE was implementing an open source solution,” he adds.

Gradually, LSE moved its Oracle database to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Currently, the trading and back-office systems along with their database servers are running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. These systems are connected to three other stock exchanges in Pakistan, including Islamabad Stock Exchange, Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Central Depository Company (CDC), and National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited (NCCPL). The database sizes of the back-office system and that of the trading system have grown to 500 GB and 100 GB, respectively. “The implementation was seamless,” said Syed. “We have experienced excellent support from Red Hat and its partner, Azeemi Technologies, in ensuring flawless implementation in short time duration,” he adds.

The performance of both the systems has improved by more than 100 percent in the last six months, since the implementation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “There hasn’t been a single instance of unplanned downtime since we migrated to Red Hat,” said Syed. “The system is very stable. It can easily take the load of more than 400 concurrent users. We don’t need to restart the systems on a daily basis as we did with our Windows environment. With Red Hat there are no memory leakages and 0no stack overflows,” he adds.

For LSE, the system management tasks, such as taking backup, have become simplified with Red Hat. “Our system management has become simplified, as backup takes much less time. With Enterprise Linux, one does not need to spend time in applying anti-virus patches and updates,” said Syed. In the coming months, LSE plans to build a disaster-recovery solution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The Red Hat-based solution is so stable and reliable that it has enabled LSE to help other small and medium-sized stock exchanges in setting up their IT infrastructures with a similar technology base. “The implementation of the trading application on Red Hat Enterprise Linux has already been done in the Ghana Stock Exchange,” said Syed.

Benefits:

“With Red Hat, we were able to extract tremendous value from our trading platform,” said Syed. “Red Hat freed us from vendor lock-in and enabled us to build our trading infrastructure to be stable, robust, reliable, and high-performing,” he added. Red Hat solutions also provided LSE with lower IT costs, simplified management, reduced systems maintenance, and increased scalability and performance with its Oracle database server.

Syed is keen to share his experience and best practices with his peers. “The good word needs to be spread. Many CIOs are not aware of the tremendous business benefits that Red Hat solutions offer, such as performance, reliability, and cost savings,” he said.

“Implementing our trading platform on Red Hat Enterprise Linux has given us the necessary competitive edge in the market to provide standardized solutions based on Linux,” explains Syed.

There has been huge improvement in the satisfaction level of LSE’s clientele. “Now that the realtime information is available quickly to the customer, our business volume has increased multifold,” said Syed.

Overall, Red Hat provided LSE with an enterprise-class solution that is high in performance, robust, and secure at an affordable price. “At the end of the day, we are the service providers to our stakeholders, and our Red Hat-based solution has helped us to ensure that we deliver these services on time and with reliability,” said Syed.

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