Customer Stories / Financial Services / United States
Scaling 5x Faster While Reducing Costs by Up to 80% Using AWS with QUODD
Learn how QUODD in market and financial services data modernized its infrastructure, eliminated Microsoft licensing dependencies, and upskilled engineers on AWS.
When engineers at market and financial services data company QUODD wanted to improve the cost efficiency and performance of their infrastructure, they found it difficult to demonstrate the business benefits of modernization. With its legacy Microsoft Windows Server technology stack, development speed was hampered by monolithic code. Technical leaders envisioned a more cost-effective, agile, and reliable offering that would facilitate microservices and rapid deployment. But, with a host of new products, features, and services to build for its customers, the company was still missing a business case for improving old code.
QUODD’s API Marketplace (formerly Xignite) had been using Amazon Web Services (AWS) since 2007, managing an average of 20 billion API calls a day. When QUODD heard of the AWS Application Modernization Lab (AWS AML), both business and technical leaders were intrigued. The company’s engineers worked alongside AWS to validate new, modern architectures and develop a proof of concept. Then, QUODD committed to a cloud-first strategy across its product offerings. “We set out to cut our costs by 50 percent through the AWS AML program. The outcome exceeded our expectations. We realized 70–80 percent cost savings through Microsoft-licensing elimination and improved efficiency. This reduction has not only met our goals but has provided us room to drive further innovation and efficiency across our operations,” says David Kirk, chief technology officer at QUODD. “We can deploy more features faster and serve more requests with fewer resources while eliminating long-term Microsoft Enterprise Agreements with Microsoft licensing lock-in.”
Opportunity | Using Amazon ECS to Scale 5x Faster and Eliminate Microsoft Licensing for QUODD
QUODD provides access to reliable and comprehensive market and financial services data and helps enterprise customers build financial applications. QUODD’s API Marketplace was first launched by Xignite in 2003. These commercial REST APIs, used by nearly 1,000 customers worldwide, were QUODD’s first market data offering to run natively in AWS. However, much of its technical stack relied on legacy Microsoft .NET Framework code, burdened with additional Windows Server licensing costs. “We couldn’t redesign and rewrite the main API framework, but we knew there were many improvements to be made in that area,” says Qin Yu, vice president of engineering at QUODD. The company faced issues with cost, slow development time, and a difficult deployment process. When it launched a new server, engineers had to wait 10 or more minutes for the infrastructure to spin up.
It was difficult to quantify the magnitude of the opportunity for value-added improvements. That changed when QUODD worked alongside AWS AML. By designing cloud-optimized architectures that eliminated the Microsoft licenses and used Linux, .NET Core, and Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)—a fully managed container orchestration service—engineers demonstrated the business value of modernization. QUODD also used the AWS AML Business Case Tool to show executives the benefits of AWS Cloud modernization, the cost-optimization opportunities of moving to a Microsoft Windows Server–free architecture, and the return on investment of replacing legacy Microsoft workloads with modernized AWS Cloud architectures. The company set out to make good on that opportunity. “We directly increased speed to scale from 10 or more minutes to 2 minutes,” says Yu.
The outcome exceeded our expectations. We realized 70–80% cost savings through Microsoft-licensing elimination and improved efficiency.”
Chief Technology Officer, QUODD
Solution | Halving Latency with Modern Infrastructure Using AWS AML
QUODD started working alongside AWS AML in summer 2021. The first phase was to analyze its infrastructure and identify candidates for modernization at a high level. In the fall, the company commenced the next phase: the hands-on-keyboard, lab-training portion of AWS AML. Because QUODD offers 50–60 different services with more than 1,000 API end points, engineers spent 3–4 months carefully building a framework to lay the foundation for the modernized architecture. It was critical for the new solution to support legacy and modernized API calls, as well as continuous integration and continuous delivery. With the proof of concept in place, engineers proceeded to the business logic phase, migrating one service at a time to AWS. “The first big service was ready to run in production within 3 months,” says Yu. As of summer 2023, about 70 percent of QUODD services run on the new Microsoft Windows Server license–free infrastructure.
The benefits were immediate. In addition to exceeding expectations for Microsoft license elimination, cost reduction, and speed to scale, the modernization initiative delivered some unexpected results. QUODD customers are now enjoying faster response times for API calls due to a significant latency improvement. “We didn’t expect latency to drop because of our engagement with AWS AML,” says Yu. “But we dropped from an average of 40 ms to between 14–20 ms per API call.”
Technical operations are also more productive with modern architectures in place. The previous legacy solution used one monolithic Microsoft Windows Server–influenced code base, so QUODD had to run tens of thousands of tests every time it deployed an update. With microservices, the Microsoft Windows Server dependencies are eliminated, and it’s much simpler and faster to deploy enhancements. And because the new system uses infrastructure as code, the team can reproduce environments so that testing environments match production—which was not possible prior to AWS AML. “The team loves to use new technology,” says Yu. “The buy-in from the executive team was great for us.” QUODD now completes 10 times as many deployments as before, and deployment times have fallen from an average of 3 hours a day to less than 30 minutes.
The modernization strategy has significantly reduced the reliance on legacy Microsoft technologies and the number of server instances that QUODD has to run. The company used to have as many as 350 Microsoft Windows Servers operational, and that number is much smaller now. The leaner system has also delivered lower Microsoft Windows Server licensing costs. QUODD is now iterating best-practice architectural patterns across its technical estate. “As our system evolves, having consistent patterns and best practices established is very important,” says Kirk.
Outcome | Completing a Transformative Modernization Initiative on AWS
QUODD is committed to completing its massive migration to the new infrastructure. As of summer 2023, only 30 percent of the technical estate remains to be modernized. The company will continue to work alongside AWS to develop solutions for its use cases. “It was a fun experience to work alongside AWS, and it was also fruitful. It’s not often that we see fun and fruitfulness together,” says Pooya Nezhadian, engineering manager at QUODD.
As QUODD enters a new era, executive leadership is happy to be bringing high-performing systems to the table. “We definitely see that modern architecture on AWS increases the technical value of the company,” says Yu.
See AWS modernization success stories at https://aws.amazon.com/windows/customers.
QUODD has been delivering market data APIs for 2 decades. The company has the first market data solution built natively to run on AWS, and it serves nearly 1,000 global enterprise clients.
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service that helps you to more efficiently deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.
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