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How the Amman Stock Exchange ensures high availability

Tom Paye | April 30, 2013
"The most challenging thing at a stock exchange is high availability. The stock exchange operates for three or three-and-a-half hours every day, and the trading system has to be available for every second of these three-and-a-half hours."

"These projects are complicated. You have to be patient, and your vendor has to be very patient," he explains. "The implementation of something like this, it took two months of extensive work -- two months of complete focus on the project -- and then another four months for migration. It's quite intense."

The migration itself took four months, much of which was still spent running on the old environment: "It is easier to have redundancy in equipment and redundancy of set-up is in fact cheaper for you than downtime," Khatib says. "And downtime is really unmeasurable because of the reputational cost. Using the load balancers, you just switch between one or the other."

Of course, migration during the working week was hardly possible, given how important it was for the system to be online. Khatib says that he took to working on the weekends, starting at, say, 7pm on a Thursday, when the system is hardly receiving any hits at all. He monitored over the weekends, and then tested the new environment at the beginning of each week. If there was any hint of something going wrong, he'd immediately switch back to the old environment.

"On Sunday, it's live on the new set-up, and you're on your toes -- anything goes wrong, you switch back to the old environment," he says. And even after everything was set up and running smoothly, Khatib says that the team did a parallel run for a month, just to eliminate the threat of any downtime.

In the pink

"It's very smooth now," Khatib says. "I think storage virtualisation is actually one of the best things that we have done, because now that the set-up is there, and you can easily migrate your other applications into it. And it's a very good luxury to be able to treat two sites as one."

The solution wouldn't work for everyone, though, Khatib points out. The project was made possible by the Amman Stock Exchange's fibre infrastructure, which, Khatib says, is either impossible to install or at least very expensive to install. Luckily for him, he was able to complete the installation of a fibre infrastructure last year.

What's more, Khatib was wise in his choice of vendors. Sure, the products might have been exactly what he was looking for, but given the set-up and migration time, his vendors had to be on-hand for six months -- it comes as high praise indeed that Khatib came out of the process as a satisfied customer.

"You look at partners who are willing to be committed, who are looking at this as strategic, who are looking at you as a business partner -- not someone they want to make a quick profit from. These kinds of projects are really difficult, and you have to be very careful who you're working with," he says.

In the current economic climate, there is no telling how the Amman Stock Exchange will fare financially in the coming years. But one thing is for sure: there's no way the economy will falter due to a lack of high availability.



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