“By optimising the performance of our support desk platform at all times, the BIG-IP devices enable us to deliver a fast, efficient service for our clients.” David Awcock, Global Head of IT, Fidessa
Financial trading systems provider Fidessa offers products and services for both investment and broker communities. Every year, more than $10 trillion worth of order flow and transactions are conveyed across the company’s global trading network, firmly establishing Fidessa as a market leader.
In financial markets, every second counts, and Fidessa relies on F5® BIG-IP® Application Delivery Controllers to help it deliver a fast, high-quality support service for its global clients.
Fidessa provides a comprehensive range of products and services that span the entire financial trading lifecycle and encompass both the investment and broker communities. Its award-winning products include solutions for asset management, compliance, global trading, and real-time market intelligence.
The company’s solutions are renowned for their innovative features and harness the latest technology to deliver efficiency gains for clients. They are used by 85 percent of the world’s premier financial institutions, but these prestigious businesses expect more than just technical excellence; they also demand exceptional support. When they require help, they often expect Fidessa to respond immediately.
To help it maintain the speed and quality of its support services, Fidessa decided to replace its legacy support desk application with a more advanced solution from BCM Software, called the Remedy IT Service Management Suite. At the same time, the company decided to deploy a new IT solution to balance the traffic for its support desk application and make this vital business solution highly reliable and resilient to disaster.
BCM Software recommended that Fidessa deploy F5 Application Delivery Controllers to perform a load balancing function. However, Fidessa didn’t simply take its supplier’s word for it. David Awcock, Global Head of IT at Fidessa, explains: “We conducted our own thorough market research, investigated a number of load balancing solutions, and decided that F5 was best of breed. Irrespective of the recommendation, we felt that F5 was right for our IT infrastructure.”
The company deployed four F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) 3900 units and two BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager (GTM) 1600 units, across two data centres in Woking and London. F5 partner Avnet assisted with the implementation, helping with the software configuration for the BIG-IP products and the setup of the company’s virtual servers. Avnet took advantage of F5’s flexible programming language, iRules®, to customise certain BIG-IP functions relating to the virtualised server environment, such as redirecting HTTPS and rewriting URLs.
Fidessa’s in-house support team comprises over 200 people located in offices across Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific region. When clients log requests for support via the web or when tasks are generated automatically by clients’ systems, everyone in this international team uses the Remedy application to manage and resolve issues. F5 BIG-IP devices balance the global application traffic across more than 30 web and application servers, to optimise the performance of the system.
At present, the F5 devices are operating significantly under capacity to allow for potential exceptional peaks in traffic and future business growth. In the first month, following the launch of the Remedy solution within the business, F5 BIG-IP solutions comfortably handled over 2 petabytes of traffic.
F5 BIG-IP solutions will help to ensure the 24/7 availability of Fidessa’s business-critical support desk system. If a disaster occurs at one data centre, a BIG-IP unit at an alternative data centre will instantly and automatically take over, so that there is no application downtime. “Events like the hurricane in New York serve to remind us disasters can occur and can be devastating,” says Awcock. “Our use of F5 products will help us to improve our resilience to such catastrophes and ensure that our global systems are available 24/7, whatever the circumstances.”
By balancing traffic across multiple servers, F5 BIG-IP solutions eliminate application bottlenecks and optimise the performance and speed of the Remedy service desk solution. The company’s support personnel can work more productively, and this leads to a high standard of service for clients. “By optimising the performance of our support desk platform at all times, the BIG-IP devices enable us to deliver a fast, efficient service for our clients,” Awcock says.
Every day, as soon as Fidessa’s clients log support requests, the clock starts ticking and Fidessa must respond within the period of time stipulated in its service level agreement (SLA) with that client. “If our service desk platform were to go down or perform slowly, we might fail to comply with the terms of our SLAs and therefore be subject to financial penalties,” says Awcock. “BIG-IP devices help us to avoid this happening.”
The IT team at Fidessa had no prior experience using F5 technology, but was able to get up and running with the BIG-IP solutions relatively quickly. The team tested the F5 products extensively in a development environment prior to go-live and experienced no difficulties. “We found the F5 products intuitive to use and fairly easy to deploy,” recalls Awcock. “It was all very positive.”
Fidessa now plans to extend its use of F5 Application Delivery Controller solutions to support its Microsoft Exchange 2010 environment. “We are continually striving to improve the performance of our IT infrastructure and increase our chances of recovery in the event of disaster,” Awcock says. “We believe that F5 will be able to help us make other critical business systems more efficient and resilient in the future.”