Dubai Financial Market

Topic : Virtualization
2500+ Employees
Networking

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Dubai Financial Market

Benefits

Increased Productivity
Network Scalability

TRADING UP

Dubai Financial Market deploys SDN Fx, the future-ready networking infrastructure from Avaya, to offer stability, scalability and enhanced security to its IT and trading environments.
 
The Dubai Financial Market, (DFM) the region’s most dynamic security exchange, now has a network infrastructure to match after implementing the Avaya SDN Fx fabric technology to power its services.
 
Avaya SDN Fx now provides the core network at DFM, explains Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, executive VP, chief operations officer, Head of Operations Division at Dubai Financial Market. “When we started the DFM, we began with Nortel switches at the time, now part of Avaya, and what this provided us was the stability we needed in our network,” says Al Serkal. “As a financial market, we always want everything redundant and reliable and Avaya provides this,” he adds.
 

Objective

As DFM transforms its IT operations to become virtual ready, DFM needed to mobile the virtual services from main datacentre to DR datacentre and vice versa without impacting and modifying the network or the application.

Solution

Avaya helped DFM by utilising the existing network infrastructure to extend its Production VLANs to its DR datacentre using Avaya’s layer two SDN FX an enhanced implementation of shortest path bridging.

Results

Avaya SDN Fx extends DFM network wide, providing a single service end-to-end, simplified, agile and resilient infrastructure that makes DFM network configuration and deployment of new services faster and easier with the best performance and efficiency. It helped DFM to optimise its trading based multicast services enabled between main and DR sites.
 

Dubai Financial Market

Business Challenge

 
Scalability was an especially important consideration for DFM due to the cyclical nature of financial markets. Al Serkal cites the market boom of 2005 where DFM had to upgrade its infrastructure to accommodate the expansion. “This was very easy for us because we only expanded on the network we already had in place,” Al Serkal explains.
 
The DFM infrastructure itself is spread over four sites including the main site at DFM headquarters, disaster recovery (DR) site at Zabeel, Abu Dhabi Security Exchange and BT-London data centres. Eight IDF locations are spread throughout DFM to provide data and voice connectivity at every desk. The IDFs contain stacks of Avaya edge switches to connect to the production & the test environment.
 
The production network houses the entire trading applications infrastructure, office infrastructure (AD, Exchange, and File Server).
 
Redundant Avaya Passport switches are used at the core layer of the network. The access layer switches (Edge) are Power over Ethernet which are used to provide IP-Telephony and piggyback connection from the phone to the desktop PCs.
 
Tied to the network is security which, as might be expected, has to be maintained at the highest levels. “DFM is continuously investing in data protection, by enabling very strong multiple security layers at the perimeter and also at the core levels,” says Al Serkal.
 
DFM relies on a combination of managed security services from its service providers, as well as in-house security solutions. Al Serkal says security is handled through various aspects within the organisation. These include the information security governance body, in addition to the security operations team at DFM.
 
DFM also recently upgraded its ISO 27,001 certification to 2013, the latest ISO security standard.
 
“We have DDOS prevention as a service from Etisalat as well as WAN application firewall, since we host our website here at DFM, so that we can prevent attacks targeting our website. This is in addition to firewalls on the WAN and VLAN, intrusion detection security among others,” says Al Serkal.
 
“If there is an innovative solution in the market which will improve our security, we often will look at it and acquire it,” he adds.
 
DFM is also making sure that stockbrokers have secure connections with the exchange. The Market recently signed an agreement with Etisalat for managed services to provide secure connection with the brokers. Etisalat is deploying managed routers at the broker end that will be monitored 24/7 to ensure security. This process, Al Serkal reveals, is 95 percent complete.
 
DFM server infrastructure, Al Serkal says, is moving towards virtualisation to achieve scalable and resilient infrastructure that reduce downtime and enable more effective resource management and automation. The system should also allow for rapid expansion and increased productivity and cost saving.
 
Stability was the main reason to invest in the Avaya SDN Fx solution as any interruption on the services of a financial market is literally money lost, Al Serkal says.
 
“SDN Fx is crucial for us as our infrastructure is divided between our main site and our disaster recovery site. We wanted to see our network as one as this makes it easy to switch from one site to another in case we need to go for failover, as a result of any unforeseen failure in the system,” Al Serkal explains.
 
“In addition, the solution allows for load sharing so we can utilise the service on any location whether it’s the disaster recovery site or from the main site,” he adds.
 
Al Serkal notes that Avaya is one of the leaders in the field based on their expertise and the stability of their solution and thus the coice was a clear one. “Avaya SDN Fx uses the latest technology, software defined networking, which helps simplify our environment.”
 
There were some challenges in implementing the solution, Al Serkal admits, but this was to do with limitations with the solutions from the service provider. Jumbo frames are required on Etisalat link between DFM and DR sites and since Etisalat is not providing it as a standard service, it was a big challenge to convince them to enable it for DFM.
 
In addition, as the Dubai Financial Market is transforming its IT operations to become virtual ready, a need to mobile the virtual services from main datacentre to the DR datacentre and vice versa without impacting and modifying the network or the application was a significant challenge due to the limitation within the application, Al Serkal adds.
 

“As a financial market, we always want everything redundant and reliable and Avaya SDN Fx provides this.”
 
– Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, Head of Operations Division at Dubai Financial Market.
 

The Solution

Avaya helped DFM by utilising the existing network infrastructure to extend production VLANs to its DR data centre using the latest Avaya technology, layer two SDN Fx, an enhanced implementation of shortest path bridging. The solution was cost effective, Al Serkal says, as only licenses for the new features had to be purchased and enabled. The implementation of the SDN Fx went smoothly, with proper execution coupled with effective support from Avaya, Al Serkal says. “This was a matter of submitting a couple of commands at both switches in the main site and the DR site, with the testing conducted over a weekend,” adds Al Serkal. The implementation went live on March 16, 2015.
 
The SDN Fx technology is being used by DFM to extend the VLANs in the production to DR site, where DFM can still use the production services in DR without having to change any of the IP addresses, Al Serkal explains. If a production server fails at the main site, it can still be accessible at the DR site using the same IP.
 
The SDN Fx technology assures DFM a simplified, agile and resilient infrastructure that makes DFM network configuration and deployment of new services faster and easier with the better performance and efficiency. It has helped DFM optimise its trading-based multicast services enabled between main and DR sites.
 
It has also allowed DFM to gradually migrate away from a host of legacy overlay technologies such as STP, OSPF, RIP, BGP and PIM and to enable all services with a single technology and delivering new levels of network simplification, Al Serkal says.
 
“With the Avaya solution, DFM extended the power of virtualisation into the campus and geographically dispersed branches as well. Services can easily be deployed via simple end-point provisioning where servers and users attach, thereby increasing speed and agility,” Al Serkal adds.
 

“The solution allows for load sharing so we can utilise the service on any location whether it’s the disaster recovery site or from the main site.”
 
– Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, Head of Operations Division at Dubai Financial Market.
 
 

Business Benefit

SDN Fx has allowed new services or changes to services to be implemented at the edge of the network, eliminating error-prone and time-consuming network wide configuration practices, Al Serkal says. It has also improved the time of service availability and reduces the recovery time in case of service failure. “The service and support we get from the vendor is also very important to DFM,” he adds.
 
DFM has the advantage of being a relatively new exchange and so was able to take advantage of the latest technology from the get go. The market is, and always was, fully electronic. “The brokers are connected to us remotely with their own IT systems linked to ours through which they trade remotely from their own offices,” Al Serkal says.
 
For actual trading, DFM uses Nasdaq OMX technology, one of the most advanced trading platforms in the world. “We are also in the process of upgrading this system and enhancing our trading and our depository applications,” says Al Serkal.
 
The SDN Fx technology is used for the entire system at DFM, including the trading system, the settlement and depository system, the core infrastructure, Windows, back office system and the website. Being a Dubai-based market also exerts its own pressure, Al Serkal admits, as the vision of the government is to transform Dubai into a Smart City. DFM is doing its part to offer smart services, and now allows trading on multiple platforms from desktops to mobile.
 
“For us, the onus is to provide our stakeholders innovative services and an environment where they feel comfortable and confident,” says Al Serkal. “IT is very much aligned with the business in all aspects and whatever we do here has to have an impact on the business side of the financial market,” he adds. DFM is also developing a new website that will be hosted within DFM’s own DR site. “Having our website failing would significantly impact our service and our reputation. So we need to have a seamless move of the website from DFM to the DR site without any interruptions,” Al Serkal says.
 
Currently, the DFM website setup is hosted at DFM main datacentre served by redundant Internet connection from dual ISP (Etisalat and du). “It’s very important as a financial market providing services to the public to maintain our Internet gateway at optimal perfomance. We do this by ensuring the website utilisation is not reaching 60% or 70% utilisation,” explains Al Serkal.
 
The DFM IT team consists of different units including trading, development, network & security, helpdesk & support, and Windows.
 
DFM is working to upgrade its core trading engine. “Having technology like SDN Fx available makes us very comfortable in implementing this major upgrade. We can have our old servers there and if anything happens with our deployments, we can switch very easily,” Al Serkal concludes.
 

“IT is very much aligned with the business in all aspects and whatever we do here has to have an impact on the business side of the financial market.”
 
– Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, Head of Operations Division at Dubai Financial Market.
 
 

About the Dubai Financial Market (DFM)

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) launched its activities on 26th March 2000. On 27th December 2005, the Executive Council of Dubai decided to transform the DFM into a public shareholding company by offering shares through an IPO, thus becoming the first regional exchange to become publicly listed. DFM operates according to Shari’a principles and has become one of the leading centres of Islamic Finance in the world. The bourse operates as a secondary market for the trading of securities issued by public shareholding companies, bonds issued by federal or local governments, local public institutions and mutual funds as well as other local or foreign DFM approved financial instruments.
 

About Avaya

Avaya is a global provider of solutions for customer and team engagement. The company provides technologies for unified communications and collaboration, contact centre and customer experience management, and networking, along with related services. SDN Fx is Avaya’s sofware-defined networking design built to deliver a simpler, more agile network through, among others, an automated core that takes advantage of a single, network-wide Ethernet fabric to remove the need for manual configuration at each network hop.
 

CUSTOMER PROFILE
Dubai Financial Market Logo
  • Headquarters:

  • Dubai

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) launched its activities on 26th March 2000. On 27th December 2005, the Executive Council of Dubai decided to transform the DFM into a public shareholding company by offering shares through an IPO, thus becoming the first regional exchange to become publicly listed. DFM operates according to Shari’a principles and has become one of the leading centres of Islamic Finance in the world. The bourse operates as a secondary market for the trading of securities issued by public shareholding companies, bonds issued by federal or local governments, local public institutions and mutual funds as well as other local or foreign DFM approved financial instruments.

What our Customers are saying
"As a financial market, we always want everything redundant and reliable and Avaya SDN Fx provides this."

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  • Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal

  • Dubai Financial Market

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