The mission of 8 Securities is to reinvent investing in Hong Kong. The company accomplishes this mission by providing users access to a Trading Portal where they can select markets, trading tools, news, research, videos, and social media. These resources comprise a community of like-minded investors that users can learn from and exchange ideas with. As of early 2012, the Trading Portal was in beta testing with a limited number of users and the full launch happened in April 2012. The company has attracted attention based on its unique offering and fully integrated social experience.

The company was looking for a platform that was cost-effective, reliable, scalable, and flexible. Cedric Roll, CTO at 8 Securities, states, “We needed the ability to react quickly to unplanned events and peace of mind in knowing that no matter what unexpected events happen in our company, we would have a pool of resources available to deal with them.”

Prior to signing on with Amazon Web Services (AWS), 8 Securities was using a combination of cloud services from another provider and a dedicated infrastructure of Microsoft® Windows® servers, load balancers, and network operations.

Roll explains why the company chose to work with AWS: “Over the past three years, we have designed our Trading Portal to leverage maximum of benefits from cloud computing. We chose AWS because, in addition to being the most mature service, it is stable, flexible, extensive, and fairly priced. AWS maintains a strategic commitment to cloud computing and publishes its Service Organization Controls 1 (SOC 1), Type 2 report audit to demonstrate its security practices. We have also found that the service is easy to use and implement.”

8 Securities uses the following products from AWS as part of its infrastructure:

  • Amazon EC2 Windows instances—To run the portal, main web site, and business intelligence tools
  • Elastic IP Addresses for Amazon EC2—To bind to domain names, and start and stop instances on demand
  • Amazon EBS—Used for data storage, for starting and stopping instances, and for having data always available
  • Amazon VPC—Used for a production network. Roll notes, “As some of our applications are bound to the machine Media Access Control [MAC] address, the key benefit for us is to have static MAC addresses when instances are restarted.”
  • Elastic Load Balancing—Used for the main web site, to load balance across multiple instances

8 Securities has realized many benefits from using AWS, including the following direct benefits:

  • 82% savings in initial stages of the startup versus on-premise deployment
  • 70% savings during beta stage versus on-premise deployment
  • 60% savings for market launch stage versus on-premise deployment

Roll says, “Indirect benefits are more difficult to quantify, but they include reduced risk of downtime; ability to respond to market conditions without over-provisioning; ability to mobilize resources quickly for a specific event, project, or piece of processing; and ability to correlate infrastructure cost to a business initiatives and revenues. In addition, now our IT resources are focused on generating direct value to the business through product enhancement, rather than provisioning, commissioning, and supporting hardware.”

According to Roll, the company is considering additional AWS services for future use. He says, “We are evaluating Amazon ElastiCache in the future for our in-memory data caching. We are also thinking about AWS Direct Connect for our market data and white label communications.”

Roll summarizes the company’s experience: “AWS is a robust and well-thought-through solution with an extensive catalog of services that cover all our needs.”

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