Case Study: Options IT Adds Speed and Resiliency to its Financial Cloud Services


When it comes to electronic trading operations, the difference between success and failure can be measured in a few microseconds. Today’s financial services firms need to be able to analyze vast amounts of stock data, run complex algorithms and execute millions of transactions per second. And they need to be able to do it all faster than the competition. By delivering fast performance and low latency to meet these firms’ needs, Options IT was able to seize upon a critical growth opportunity.



Overcoming the latency barriers in high-frequency trading

When it comes to electronic trading operations, the difference between success and failure can be measured in a few microseconds. Today’s financial services firms need to be able to analyze vast amounts of stock data, run complex algorithms and execute millions of transactions per second. And they need to be able to do it all faster than the competition. By delivering fast performance and low latency to meet these firms’ needs, Options IT was able to seize upon a critical growth opportunity.

As Ken Barnes, senior vice president of corporate development at Options, explains, “We needed to be able to host our customers’ trading applications on high-performance servers in data centers around the world. We needed a server platform that we knew was going to be reliable and efficient, and that was going to be backed by a company that would keep up with changing trends—from always adopting the latest Intel processors to keeping up with other specialist technologies, like low-latency networking cards from Solarflare and Mellanox. We found all that and more with the IBM System x3750 M4 platform.” 

To break through the latency barriers imposed by large, multi-server environments, Options wanted to take advantage of the latest multi-core processor technologies to deliver extreme throughput and low latency. And it wanted to deploy its private financial cloud services in a compact, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure.

Options turned to IBM to test the potential of x3750 M4 servers running Intel Xeon multi-core processors. In particular, the firm wanted to evaluate the server performance for its electronic trading hosting services. Since the x3750 M4 server can accommodate up to 1.5 TB of memory, high-speed processing and fast eXFlash solid-state drives (SSDs) for internal drives, Options found it to be an ideal platform for the most complex trading applications. The firm was also able to tune its software to leverage high-performance network adapters—enabling it to pull market data feeds directly into memory at faster rates.

In addition, since x3750 M4 features an ultra-dense design, Options can deliver more processing power for clients in a smaller footprint. This can translate to significant cost savings in co-located rackspace, in terms of both physical floor space requirements and related data center power and cooling costs.



About Options (www.options-it.com): Options is the leading provider of cloud-enabled managed services to the global capital markets. Founded in 1993, the company began life as a hedge fund technology services provider. More than a decade ago, the company made a strategic decision to become the first provider to offer cloud services to the financial sector. Today over 200 firms globally leverage the Options platform, including the leading global investment banks, hedge funds, funds of funds, proprietary trading firms, market makers, broker/dealers, private equity houses and exchanges.