Deutsche Börse Group Boosts Trading Platform Testing and Lowers TCO in Collaboration with AWS
T7 is the trading platform for the Xetra and Eurex exchanges, which process hundreds of millions of transactions a day with a double-digit microsecond latency. Extensive testing is essential to detect bugs and maintain code quality before code goes into the production environment. With AWS, Deutsche Börse Group has improved testing by moving from weekly to daily test cycles, testing smaller batches, and speeding up debugging.
Now that we don’t have the limitations of on premises, there are no queues for testing anymore. The scale-out capability of AWS has allowed us to reduce the testing overload situation, and this increased developer happiness and satisfaction, too."
Senior Software Developer at Deutsche Börse Group
As an international exchange organization and innovative market infrastructure provider, Deutsche Börse Group offers its customers a wide range of products, services, and technologies that cover the entire value chain of financial markets.
Deutsche Börse Group uses its T7 trading platform for derivatives and cash trading on some of the world’s leading exchanges, including Eurex, the European Energy Exchange (EEX), Xetra, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Extensive software testing is vital to maintain the quality and functionality of such a critical trading platform. The testing stages post unit-testing are functional and technical system testing, business acceptance testing, user acceptance testing (customer simulation), and chaos monkey testing.
Additionally, each new software commit triggers a smoke test to verify basic functionalities, and every night a more complex smoke test is executed. The next lines focus on smoke testing and chaos monkey testing, as well as functional testing, which also includes regression testing.
Testing for updates and new releases is essential to detect bugs and maintain the code quality of the T7 platform before code goes into the production environment. The testing involves two major software releases per year for the T7 platform—these releases are delivered in iterations and cover a large set of software changes. This means Deutsche Börse Group’s team of 100 testers and developers requires a resilient testing capacity for an average of 55,000 tests of different types and complexity per month.
“We deploy code frequently to our production environment and, by testing, we ensure we deliver software without bugs and of the quality expected for T7,” says Helge Harren, director, head of section Xetra/Eurex Application Development Trading at Deutsche Börse Group.
Overcoming On-premises Testing Bottlenecks and Queues
Deutsche Börse Group previously ran testing for T7 on premises, using a limited amount of retired production hardware. With a limited number of servers available, this led to bottlenecks, and tests were queued.
“We had some limitations on premises,” explains Christian Hellmann, senior software developer at Deutsche Börse Group. “We had dedicated servers for testing, which became overloaded in certain situations during a project where a lot of code delivery and compilation is done. Also, developers had to wait for the feedback of their delivery because a lot of smoke tests were going on.”
Deutsche Börse Group wanted to modernize and accelerate its testing capacity to meet rapidly changing expectations and to maintain the quality of software updates and changes. In 2017, the Group decided to move its T7 testing environment onto Amazon Web Services (AWS) to take advantage of the secure, resilient global cloud infrastructure and elastic, flexible resources.
As part of that move, Deutsche Börse Group decided to use Amazon EC2 Spot Instances. This provides flexible access to AWS compute resources and resilient testing capacity. A Spot Instance allows Deutsche Börse to take advantage of unused Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) capacity up to a 90 percent discount compared to on-demand pricing, lowering Amazon EC2 costs and total cost of ownership (TCO) significantly.
Managing Spot Instance Reclaims
Because AWS sometimes needs to reclaim the capacity for a Spot Instance, Deutsche Börse Group had to balance flexibility and price advantage against the risk of test workloads failing when an instance can be terminated before the test can be completed.
Tracking the termination rates of Spot Instances on a daily basis helped Deutsche Börse Group to overcome the possible termination of instances. This involved using the 30-day average regional figures from AWS—a way to identify the lowest termination rates and where best to place an instance for any given test workload, while allowing for flexibility in instance type and region. In the case of a Spot Instance being terminated, Deutsche Börse Group developed a process to either re-execute the tests using on-demand AWS products and services, or redistribute to other Spot Instances, depending on the type of test.
However, since Deutsche Börse Group started using Spot Instances for its testing capacity in 2017, termination rates have been very low: just 2.3 percent. And for instances that are terminated in the first hour, Deutsche Börse Group isn’t charged.
“Now that we don’t have the limitations of on premises there are no queues for testing anymore,” says Hellmann. “The scale-out capability of AWS has allowed us to reduce the testing overload situation, and this increased developer happiness and satisfaction, too.”
Moving the T7 platform testing capacity onto AWS allows Deutsche Börse Group to run T7 testing on single-host deployments, as well as to test multi-host deployment environments using the multi-cast feature in AWS Transit Gateway, which helps testers and developers to uncover issues earlier in the development and testing cycle.
The importance of this type of testing is critical. That’s because, after updates and new releases are in the production environment, the T7 platform uses hundreds of servers, all communicating with one another simultaneously via multi-cast networking for inter-process communication and low-latency messaging.
More Testing, More Often with AWS
Migrating to AWS has enabled Deutsche Börse Group to run testing at scale and improve and shorten feedback cycles for its T7 platform without having to make significant investments in new infrastructure.
“Using the instant capacity that AWS provides has shortened the testing cycle for the T7 platform—in some cases, from five days to just a few hours—by giving us more flexibility for testing and allowing developers to get feedback quicker. Spot Instances also makes this architecture cost-effective. Extensive software testing is vital to maintain the quality and functionality of our trading platform,” says Christian Hellmann.
For example, for the most common type of test—smoke test—total costs have been significantly reduced. During April 2020, Deutsche Börse Group ran 1,061 tests and re-ran 90 tests—compared to running these tests on-demand, the Group was able to reduce costs by 70 percent using Spot Instances.
“The benefit of Spot Instances is the pay-as-you-go approach without the need for a long-term contract or complex licensing,” says Helge Harren. “This really allows you to be flexible in your consumption and architectural choices, and to make more use of the ‘best fit’ machines for the short periods they are required.”
This proved to be a benefit for the regression testing, which is more complex than other types of tests and involves the automatic execution of functional test conditions and specific scenarios.
In the old on-premises development environment, Deutsche Börse Group was able to run the regression tests only during the weekends, using 10–15 servers that were borrowed from the development team for this type of test. If a regression test failed over the weekend, that failure wouldn't be discovered until Monday and then it would not be possible to re-run the test until the following weekend.
Now, Deutsche Börse Group is able to execute its regression tests across 150 servers on Spot Instances overnight, significantly increasing the scope and scale of its testing capability, and delivering much faster feedback to testers. This means that, if a regression test fails, the test can now be run again the following night.
Using AWS, Deutsche Börse Group has achieved its goal of increasing the scale of software testing, while lowering TCO, to maintain the functional quality and performance of the T7 trading system.
As a result, Deutsche Börse Group is now in the process of bringing the testing and development environments even closer together: it plans to migrate development from on premises to AWS later in 2021.
About Deutsche Börse Group
As an international exchange organisation and innovative market infrastructure provider, Deutsche Börse Group ensures markets characterised by integrity, transparency and stability. With its wide range of products, services and technologies, the Group organises safe and efficient markets for sustainable economies.Its business areas extend along the entire value chain in exchange trading, including the admission, trading and clearing, and custody of securities and other financial instruments, the dissemination of market data, as well as the management of collateral and liquidity. As a technology company, the Group develops state-of-the-art IT solutions and offers IT systems all over the world.With more than 9,000 employees, the Group has its headquarters in the financial centre of Frankfurt/Rhine-Main, as well as a strong global presence in locations such as Luxembourg, Prague, London, New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney.
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AWS Services Used
AWS Transit Gateway
AWS Transit Gateway connects VPCs and on-premises networks through a central hub. This simplifies your network and puts an end to complex peering relationships. It acts as a cloud router – each new connection is only made once.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction.
Amazon EC2 Spot Instances
Amazon EC2 Spot Instances let you take advantage of unused EC2 capacity in the AWS cloud. Spot Instances are available at up to a 90% discount compared to On-Demand prices.
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