The Susquehanna International Group of companies (SIG) runs sophisticated systems to trade in the various financial markets and requires constant uptime. Moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server dramatically increased system performance, and allowed a hardware switch that reduced costs by about 75 percent.
SIG is a leading institutional sales, research and market-making firm active in financial markets on five continents. The firm offers renowned execution expertise in listed and NASDAQ equities, options, program trading, American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) and is one of the largest liquidity providers in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). SIG has more than 1500 employees throughout the world.
SIG's sophisticated financial trading systems were taxing its aging mid-range environment. With an ever-increasing volume of market data, SIG's back-office servers often came close to redline conditions. The IT staff was also struggling with power and cooling constraints in the data center. SIG needed to revamp its server environment, without sacrificing performance or scalability.
SIG is constantly creating new products and time-to-market is critical in the dynamic financial services market. This called for a refresh of its development environments. SIG needed an operating system platform that would support rapid development and deployment.
SIG recognized the benefits of moving its UNIX environment to Linux would include better performance on AMD-based hardware. SIG evaluated several distributions before selecting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to run on its servers.
"In the end, the Novell offerings simply made more financial sense than other distributions, especially when including their respective support models," said Norbert Thier, manager of server systems at SIG. "Our strategy has been to look for value-based solutions that give us a competitive advantage. When it comes to Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the best technology platform for our business."
SIG runs a variety of mission-critical applications on the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server platform including its databases, several customized trading applications, a large grid computing environment, and Reuters Market Data System (RMDS). With anticipated market data increases of 50-100 percent, SIG now has both the performance and scalability to handle any market spikes for the foreseeable future.
"It is critical for vendors to certify their products on the operating systems and applications we choose and to guarantee great technical Tier 2 support to our staff," said Thier. "Reuters and Novell worked very closely with our engineers, enabling us to run RMDS on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server very early on. This has allowed us to provide a best-of-breed solution to our trading environment. This has directly translated into improved performance and satisfied our in-house business customers."
With the ability to run a complex environment on AMD-based machines, SIG could dramatically reduce hardware costs and deployment time to support the firm's rapid growth. The mix of a new hardware platform and a well supported SUSE Linux Enterprise Server allowed SIG to consolidate its data center efficiently, which freed up space and reduced power and cooling requirements.
"Without Novell, we would have required almost a forklift upgrade to other hardware options," said Norbert Thier. "One of the best benefits of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the ability to benefit from newer, better performing and cheaper hardware."
SIG also benefits from an incident-based support model from Novell to help keep support costs under control. For example, SIG can apply the same support resolution across the 150 machines in its sophisticated grid computing system, instead of paying a support cost for each machine. This is extremely valuable in an environment that is designed to be redundant.
"Support is absolutely critical for us because downtime at the wrong time of day will cost us a lot of money very fast," said Thier. "We have a heterogeneous environment with a lot of moving parts, so having access to immediate enterprise support from Novell is mandatory."
Another benefit of moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server was the easy transition from UNIX. With moderate effort, SIG was able to train its Infrastructure Services staff on Linux and provide a consistent set of tools across US regions and international offices. With the ability to deploy new Linux servers in a consistent way—as well as quickly develop, revise and deploy new applications—the company can rapidly introduce new products for new market segments.
By upgrading its server installation base to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on x86-based hardware, SIG has increased the performance of its mission-critical systems at least fourfold, without any increase in server costs. The Linux environment simplifies the process of deploying new systems, allowing SIG to keep pace with a rapid growth rate of 30 percent per year.
SIG's IT staff made the transition from UNIX to Linux with minimal training and can now take advantage of open source development opportunities.
"The cost savings with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have been great, but being able to avoid seeing our systems approach redline conditions is priceless," said Thier. "We are getting unbeatable performance on lower-cost hardware, and we are well prepared for the next rounds of market volume increases."