We created LiVE, our comprehensive services platform, in just eight months. This was something we could not have accomplished if we had not used AWS Cloud services.
Thirapun Sanpakit Senior Executive Vice President, Stock Exchange of Thailand

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) provides a full range of investment products and services for institutional, foreign, and domestic investors. SET focuses not only on market value but also on quality, innovation, and sustainability. The exchange employs the best technology across its operations and service areas. It prioritizes innovation to compete with other world-class stock exchanges, and continues to introduce new products and services to serve a growing client base. In 2000, for example, SET launched its primary online trading platform settrade.com as part of its vision “To Make the Capital Market ‘Work’ for Everyone.”

As a financial services provider, SET must observe certain data residency requirements, and data security is a key aspect of SET’s IT infrastructure. Every new system, product, or service must comply with stringent requirements set by the Securities and Exchange Commission Thailand (SEC). Until 2015, the enterprise had been operating a hybrid architecture with a mix of its own servers and virtual machines running in a domestic cloud. However, several international customers had voiced concerns over the speed of accessing market data, which inhibited its ambitions to acquire more global clients.

SET decided to look for a new IT solution to address these concerns. Scalability was a key requirement in the company’s search. The settrade.com online trading platform started in 2000 with five brokers and could handle less than 1,000 simultaneous users, but it has since grown to an average of more than 80,000 simultaneous users and more than 40 brokers. SET’s management sought a highly scalable cloud infrastructure with low latency and hoped to achieve long-term cost savings by gradually migrating new and existing workloads off premises.

Finally, global computer vulnerabilities such as Meltdown and Spectre had caused considerable worry for SET’s management, with operations spending an increasing amount of time patching and updating internal systems to guard against cyberthreats. Thirapun Sanpakit, Senior Executive Vice President of SET, says, “We wanted to transform the way we work so we could focus on developing and refining ideas instead of spending time and energy on operational details.”

One of SET’s aspirations was to embark on new big data projects and utilize the vast amount of data it accumulates daily. The enterprise aimed to create more customized products to better serve the diverse needs of investors.

SET began its search for international cloud-service providers. Warong Wuthi-udomlert, vice president and head of IT security and architecture, says the team chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) because of the breadth of services available, its native database offerings, and its platform-agnostic nature. “The overall sentiment was that AWS would give us more consistent service levels across all platforms than other cloud-service providers that may be better suited for specific database and OS solutions.”

SET opted for a gradual approach to cloud adoption. Phase one included migrating a simple workload from Settrade onto the AWS Cloud, using Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) for front-end services such as web-based user interfaces. AWS Partner Network (APN) Standard Consulting Partner MFEC helped design the proof of concept and ensured that the infrastructure chosen was the right fit for SET’s business demands.

The SET team began phase two of its cloud journey in 2017, when it launched two new platforms entirely in the AWS Cloud: FundConnext and LiVE. FundConnext is a one-stop trading platform for all types of funds, and LiVE was designed to help startups gain access to crowdfunding as well as equities trading. The team relies on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to run MySQL code, and it uses Elastic Load Balancing to distribute traffic across the platforms. LiVE was the first product for which SET used blockchain technology. It takes advantage of two additional AWS products: Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for file and document storage, and AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to facilitate identity and access on blockchain.

After migrating its first Settrade workload onto the AWS Cloud, the company immediately benefited from improved scalability. At its peak, the trading platform can now accommodate 100,000 simultaneous logins—without compromising system performance or experiencing any downtime. Its user experience has also received positive feedback from international customers on how the speed of data access is significantly better.

The greatest benefit of shifting to the AWS Cloud is the speed of innovation. SET can get new products to market much faster than with its on-premises or domestic cloud servers because of quick security and compliance checks as well as the agility offered by AWS infrastructure as a service. Developers are empowered to immediately provision resources and test new ideas from the expansive AWS catalogue toolkit. Wuthi-udomlert says, “With AWS, our data scientists can really focus on data modeling and other aspects that add value to the business instead of spending time making infrastructure choices and implementing things on our own.”

The LiVE platform is proof of faster time-to-market. Sanpakit says, “We created LiVE, our comprehensive service platform, in just eight months. This was something we could not have accomplished if we had not used AWS Cloud services.”

Compliance with international standards such as ISO 27001 and FIPS-140-2 is built into AWS native offerings such as AWS Key Management Service, which streamlined approval by the SEC. SET estimates 20–30 percent time savings from this built-in compliance feature. Wuthi-udomlert says, “Using services that were already standards-compliant meant our regulatory concerns were very minimal. Had blockchain-friendly services such as AWS Key Management Service not been there, we would have spent at least an additional one or two months testing and designing our own key management system.”

Sanpakit also highlights data security as an advantage of the AWS Cloud, particularly when large-scale patches and updates are needed to respond to threats such as Meltdown and Spectre. “This is one of the major cost savings in terms of handling cyberthreats. AWS gives us a lot of confidence that our system is taken care of by an expert team and that they will be one of the first in the market to respond to such vulnerabilities,” Sankapit says. “If we had to maintain the system ourselves, it would have taken much longer to plan, test, and deploy mitigations.”

For its third phase of cloud adoption, starting in 2018, SET plans to migrate its data warehouse onto the AWS Cloud and begin experimenting with AI and machine learning. “Having all transactional data and user information already in the cloud makes it a seamless next step to bring up the analytics aspect,” Wuthi-udomlert says. So far, the learning curve with the AWS Cloud has been minimal. “The services from AWS are really straightforward,” he adds. “As someone who is not a system engineer, I looked at the menu and felt it was all understandable. Documentation is easy to access, and since AWS is the prevailing choice among IT teams, there is plenty of help available in the market.”

Learn more about how AWS can help build highly scalable and secure big data applications.