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Simone Belleli, CTO at SoftSolutions, explains where the real challenge lay in taking nexRates, SoftSolutions’ premium Fixed Income Trading Platform, to the cloud and how his team optimised the software for this new environment.

For us, moving to the cloud was inevitable. With so many firms talking about the possibilities, we knew that we needed to explore how we were going to make our trading software compatible with this new environment.

However, we needed to be clear about what benefits could be gained for our clients from making the move. Our target was to offer a fully managed trading capability – Trading as a Service – where a bank could focus on using our software platform to trade while SoftSolutions ran, maintained and supported the software, infrastructure and venue connectivity.

Benefits of the Cloud

So that left us with the question: “What could the Public Cloud offer that would enable us to offer Trading as a Service?”

Primarily, cloud offered us flexibility and speed of implementation which meant that we could set up infrastructure in a matter of minutes. By codifying the infrastructure, an entire nexRates environment could be provisioned and stood up automatically.

Secondly, by selecting the right cloud platform technology, we could achieve better resilience. For example, with very little effort on our side, we could provide both resilience and disaster recovery from the same infrastructure by leveraging services like AWS Aurora Serverless DB which provides a RDBMS capability across Availability Zones (data centres in AWS speak).

Finally, one particular cloud provider offered the capability to virtualise our trading desktop application as well, which meant we could now offer to host the nexRates Trader Console – providing a true Trading as a Service capability. Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a managed service that enables firms to run desktop applications from the cloud. This means that the management of the nexRates Trader Console could be done entirely remotely, ensuring a high level of availability, consistency and support to our clients.   

Challenges

If we were going to get the best out of our chosen Public Cloud environment, we needed to be aware of the target platform technologies and the options available to us. While the cloud providers generally provide a broad range of service configurations for their infrastructure and platform services, in some cases, the options can sometimes be more limiting than a custom-built capability.

When looking at Amazon AppStream 2.0, we realised that the top end client available through this managed service was still short of the RAM and CPU Cores required for our more demanding traders.

So, we set about a redesign of our trading architecture.

nexRates Version 3

In 2020, SoftSolutions had already set about redesigning the trader experience, so adding the resource constraint requirement to the redesign inspired us to think about what other improvements could be made to the platform.

Architecturally, we made some key changes like extracting key business logic from the Trader Console and moving it into a service middleware. We also removed the in-memory database used for supporting the user interface and used a more efficient mechanism for caching data.

We also took the opportunity to further optimise our code, taking out bottlenecks and reducing the impact of Java Garbage Collection as well.

Results

The results have been astounding.

Not only were we able to halve the processing and memory requirements needed for the most demanding of our Trader Console configurations, but we were also able to reduce the server-to-desktop network traffic by a factor of 10.

This meant that as well as being more efficient, we had also improved the data capacity and latency performance to the desktop as well. We could now easily fit into Amazon AppStream 2.0 configurations, with the standard nexRates Trader Console configurations now fitting into one of the more modest AppStream options.

So now we have a software platform that not only runs in the cloud, but also a fixed income trading capability that is optimised for the cloud – all independently verified by AWS’s Technical Baseline Review! 

Setting up an environment for a client is now faster than ever, with little or no installation required at client site. Why not ask for a trial and see for yourself?

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