DFM aims for 100% uptime with eHDF

Dubai Financial Market’s website provides real time stock prices and other services to investors — downtime is not an option

Tags: Dubai Financial MarketEmirates International Telecommunications - UAEFinanceeHosting DataFort
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DFM aims for 100% uptime with eHDF Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, executive VP, COO and head of operations division, Dubai Financial Markets. (ITP Images)
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By  Mark Sutton Published  August 22, 2013

For financial markets, keeping trading systems live and keeping investors connected is critical — when a delay of less than a minute can mean the difference between profit and loss, the ability to trade in a timely manner becomes crucial.

For Dubai Financial Market (DFM), the Dubai exchange established in 2000, the situation is no different. With around 65 companies listed on the exchange, along with trading in bonds and investment funds, the DFM is one of the leading financial institutions in the region. While the exchange is home to a number of brokers and traders doing business on the floor, the DFM also caters to a wider market of investors who are not physically present, but instead who operate remotely, via the DFM trading platform, and brokers. For this community, DFM’s website plays a vital role in keeping them up-to-date on movements in stock prices and other news and services.

The website provides real time stock prices for around 24,000 registered Dubai Financial Market users, along with a host of other services including information on companies on the exchange, trading history of those companies and any disclosure notices; investor registration, online statements and investor portfolios, and services from the clearing house.

With important services such as these, DFM cannot afford any downtime to the site, so it relies upon a hosting and services agreement with eHosting DataFort. While the website is hosted at DFM’s own data centre, it also has complete replication and backup provided by the hosting company, along with other managed services, to provide a backup in case of service interruption, high levels of demand or other occurrences that could risk the service.

Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, executive vice president, chief operations officer, head of operations division, Dubai Financial Markets, said that while historically DFM had experienced some bandwidth issues at peak times, since 2005 when it signed the agreement with eHDF, it has not had any problems.

There were a number of reasons why DFM selected eHDF for its hosting partner. Data is transferred to the eHDF facility in real time, using an MPLS connection, to update the servers, storage and applications which are hosted by eHDF.

Al Serkal said that in terms of location and telecommunications provision, DFM is reliant on UAE operator Etisalat, while eHDF is primarily connected through du. By using two different operators, the setup includes an extra degree of redundancy, so if one operator’s network goes down there is a failover.

eHDF’s Tier 3 data centre was another factor in DFM selecting them for hosting provision:

“We are trying to have 100% availability, which is sometimes challenging,” Al Serkal said. “One reason we chose eHosting DataFort is they are Tier 3, which gives you 99.98% availability of the service. Availability is crucial.

“We are ISO 9001, 27001; eHosting DataFort also is certified — so even before we signed with them we knew they were certified, that makes us more comfortable dealing with them, and it means we have the same concerns in terms of information security, processes and change management. This matters for us, and it makes life much easier,” he added.

Another important aspect of the deal with eHDF, Al Serkal explained, are the services which eHDF provides that complement DFM’s own IT capabilities. eHDF consults DFM on technology areas and regular reviews, and is also able to offer expertise in areas such as security, where eHDF provides constant monitoring, or load balancing, to make sure services are always available.

“They have a good technical team, with different skills, this makes us comfortable, also the security aspect of it, and the bandwidth, they are very flexible with us, if we require more bandwidth they deliver it on the fly. We don’t need to wait or call, it is automatic. This makes things much easier,” Al Serkal said.

eHDF also provides a smooth service in areas like updates, to ensure there is no service interruption from these: “They plan changes, which makes it much easier for us, and makes us much more confident that our service will not be interrupted.”

Going forward, DFM is planning to expand the services available through the website, to better serve its investor customers. Al Serkal says that the hosting relationship with eHDF provides a host of benefits, but most importantly of all, it helps ensure that the market’s services are available, to preserve its reputation.

“Our reputation matters,” he notes. “It is not just money we are saving, we are saving more than money — it is our reputation if something happens.”

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