Infocast

Infocast Migrates Trading Workloads to AWS to Save 31% on Infrastructure and Facilitate Agile Response to Market Fluctuation

2022

Hong Kong has retained its status as a financial hub in recent years despite market volatility resulting from global health crises and political conflicts. Shares in Hong Kong’s exchange operator doubled from 2020 to 2021, and market capitalization in the territory remains higher than national exchanges in countries such as Japan, France, and the UK.

Such volatility, however, has led to unpredictable daily trading volumes. This has proven challenging for banks and brokerages to manage in their on-premises data centers due to hardware capacity restraints. Most financial services companies in Hong Kong until now have relied on proprietary data centers as their default IT infrastructure setup.

Infocast Ltd. is a FinTech offering market data, investor applications, and brokerage platforms to over 200 banks and financial services companies in Asia. It recognized the limitations of standard on-premises data centers for handling market volatility and began a journey to the cloud in 2020 to improve scalability and leverage economies of scale. Established in 1996, Infocast is one of 23 approved vendors of broker supplied systems (BSS) in Hong Kong.

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AWS has actively engaged with us, providing training and support to help us as individual programmers and developers… and our company grow.”

Felix Li
Project Director, Infocast Ltd.

Supporting a Move to Digital Transformation with Training on AWS

With Infocast’s traditional service model, customers had to reserve IT resources for Infocast’s systems ahead of time to ensure enough compute capacity to handle spikes in trading volumes. This resulted in unacceptable idle hardware capacity and excess costs outside peak trading windows.

In 2020, Infocast received an invitation to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in Hong Kong and viewed the event as an opportunity to kickstart digital transformation in the cloud. “We enthusiastically participated in the event because the topics were exactly in line with what we wanted to adopt at Infocast as a progressive BSS vendor. Since then, AWS has actively engaged with us, providing training and support to help us, as individual programmers and developers, advance our careers and our company grow,” says Felix Li, project director at Infocast Limited.

To date, dozens of Infocast’s 130-strong team have completed training courses including AWS Technical Essentials and Advanced Architecting on AWS. The company estimates its daily operation is 62 percent more productive since Infocast began adopting cloud architecture with AWS.

Providing New Revenue Streams for Customers

Infocast’s first foray into developing in the cloud came with InvestSIM, an investment gaming simulation solution that financial professionals offer to their individual clients wanting to test their trading skills. Infocast built InvestSIM using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, deployed only when clients subscribe to use the solution. Neither Infocast nor its customers need to maintain and reserve capacity in their data centers to host InvestSIM, thereby reducing initial and ongoing infrastructure expenditures.

“With this virtual solution in AWS, costs are minimal when the service is inactive and the market is quiet. When markets are on an upswing, and clients want to offer trade gaming, it’s an efficient way to quickly scale up and provide new services for our customers,” says Li.

Building a Resilient, Low-Cost Disaster Recovery Platform

The next use case for Infocast developers’ emerging cloud skills was the development of a disaster recovery site for the company’s iClick quoting platform. iClick is a market data portal and real-time exchange quoting service that enterprise customers can access 24/7 from Infocast’s service endpoints. Infocast created additional endpoints for business continuity planning in Amazon EC2 that are securely connected to the company’s price quote engine.

The iClick disaster recovery platform is only utilized in the event of a failure, making it a cost-effective way to increase resilience. Collectively, Infocast has experienced 31 percent cost savings by using AWS over on-premises infrastructure for solutions including iClick and InvestSIM.

Adopting Containers with Microservices for 75% Higher Agility

The next major project migrated to AWS was Infocast’s order management system (OMS) for securities trading. By moving its OMS to the cloud, Infocast sought to increase fault tolerance and transaction speeds. In the first and second phases of the project, Infocast migrated its OMS from a Windows to a Linux operating system, shifting to a containerized microservices architecture. It uses Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) for container orchestration, dramatically reducing the burden of maintaining the Kubernetes control plane.

Infocast reports a 75 percent increase in the ability to deliver new features, including those within the new version of its OMS, since increasing its adoption of cloud infrastructure. It’s currently evaluating how to automate deployment in AWS to further accelerate project timelines, a goal the third phase of OMS migration will address. “When we embarked on the OMS development project, we were honestly intimidated by the one-year timeline proposed for phases 1 and 2. But now that we’ve cleared that hurdle, we can tell other team members that moving to the cloud isn’t that daunting,” shares Sammul Lee, head of information systems at Infocast.

Transitioning to a SaaS Operating Model

The third phase of the OMS upgrade is scheduled for completion in 2023. With the new microservices foundation, Infocast anticipates even greater deployment flexibility and customization potential for customers using cloud-based solutions. Furthermore, the Infocast OMS can still be deployed in customers’ on-premises environments if they prefer.

The business is also considering offering its OMS via a software as a service model, which represents a new business opportunity. “This OMS upgrade could be the gateway to do much more on the AWS Cloud and expand our offerings to all brokerage firms regardless of size. Once cloud-based infrastructure models are well established, regulators in Hong Kong are likely to further legitimize cloud operating models. This could be a golden opportunity for the BSS industry,” Li concludes.

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About Infocast Ltd.

Infocast is a Hong Kong-based FinTech providing banks and brokerages with financial information, trading platforms, enterprise solutions, and IT services. It’s among 23 approved vendors of broker supplied systems and aims to be a one-stop solution with a comprehensive product portfolio.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduces infrastructure costs by 31%
  • Increases ability to deliver new features by 75%
  • Improves efficiency of IT infrastructure staff by 62%
  • Complies with data security and privacy regulations
  • Receives training on architecting in the cloud
  • Gains flexibility for custom deployments
  • Increases resilience with cloud-based DR

AWS Services Used

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) is a managed container service to run and scale Kubernetes applications in the cloud or on-premises.

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Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Secure and resizable compute capacity for virtually any workload

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