Founded in 2000, AASTOCKS is a one-stop financial solutions provider devoted to the development and production of advanced financial technology solutions, information services and system integration for both corporate clients and individual investors in Asia Pacific. AASTOCKS has more than 500 institutional customers including corporate clients, banks, securities brokers and media. Headquartered in Hong Kong, AASTOCKS also operates in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore and Japan.
With a growing number of subscribers, AASTOCKS needed to respond to new business opportunities, scale their IT resources to deliver higher service level and launch new services efficiently.
Logicalis designed and developed a new architecture.
Complex Data Centre That Could Not Scale
The number of registered subscribers for AASTOCKS’ financial services has grown in the last five years from 10,000 to 50,000 premium subscribers. To date, unique visitors to AASTOCKS’ website and mobile platform have exceeded 3.8 million and 1.5million respectively, with page views reaching over 220 million monthly.
AASTOCKS’ previous data centre comprised of blade and rack servers, and low-end switches which were complex and difficult to upgrade and scale. The expanding user community was putting greater demands on a burdened IT infrastructure and restricting the flexibility and ability of the organisation to expand.
“Our previous IT infrastructure was unable to meet our service level agreement (SLA) and customer requirements, which gave us frequent headaches. It was also costly to manage and maintain our servers and difficult to provision new services. We realised we could not meet our new business needs,” said Edicon Lai, IT Manager of AASTOCKS.
An Intelligent, Cloud-Capable Unified IT Infrastructure
In 2016, AASTOCKS decided to expand its data centre and move to an intelligent, cloud-capable, high-bandwidth and high intensity unified IT infrastructure.
“We want our customers to receive superior digital experience and obtain richer and faster financial information anytime and from anywhere. Our existing partner could not provide the technical expertise and service quality we required. We want to find a capable partner who can offer a solution that can keep us ahead of the game and enable AASTOCKS to meet our service level agreements and customer needs,” explained Lai.
Logicalis was chosen as the preferred solutions provider to develop a new architecture based on a Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and employing new Cisco UCS-B blade servers and Nexus 9000 switches. The new advanced architecture also supports 10G Ethernet switching, up from 1G previously, enabling AASTOCKS to scale, by adding more devices to the network or move applications to the cloud.
Following a 3-month review, Logicalis won the contract in April 2016, and the new architecture was deployed in July after migration and testing.
Faster Response to Customers
The UCS architecture integrates computing, networking and virtualization elements to provide a unified management environment which simplifies data centre operations. This helped AASTOCKS reduce cost and improve efficiency of the network. The streamlined, high performance infrastructure also meant less downtime and higher work productivity. According to Lai, AASTOCKS can now respond more quickly to customer queries and deals are being closed faster than before. It was also easier and quicker for the company staff to get technical support.
“With the new framework in place, the entire IT ecosystem - the network, server and security - were integrated into a single portal, making it easy to use and manage. We have greater visibility of the network and our traffic. Our IT systems are now more intelligent and reliable, whilst network performance has increased. The system is also self-aware and self-integrating, automatically discovering components and ensuring that new capacity is easily accessible. This is done at a fraction of the time when compared to the previous systems,” Lai said.
“With the new implementation, previous barriers hindering innovation were removed. We can now expand the business without worrying about any IT bottlenecks. The new architecture also allows our tech team to easily scale and deploy new services, and to adapt to evolving customer demands,” he added.
Offering Secure Banking Services Through the Cloud
With the UCS infrastructure in place, AASTOCKS aims to offer new banking and financial services through the cloud.
Long term plans are to go wireless and further expand the data centre. However, with malware and advanced cyber threats on the rise, AASTOCKS’ most immediate concern was to improve its security at the back end. The company has already moved to Cisco’s Email Security Appliance, and is enjoying benefits such as sandboxing, threat intelligence, better data loss prevention and encryption support.
As the next step, AASTOCKS intends to build a stronger security architecture and be more proactive in threat management. The company plans to invest in next generation Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), integrated Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) solutions and is considering Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) technologies to power its Security Operations Centre (SOC).
The addition of these new tools will enable AASTOCKS to better withstand advanced threats, have faster time detection, gain more visibility into activity and threats, and to be able to do real time security awareness and monitoring.
“Financial and financial services firms are always under the constant threat of cyber attacks and breaches. We cannot be complacent and need to continually upgrade to meet future threats. As the network expands, the complexity of controlling access and managing risks grows as well. We want to have greater visibility of the vulnerabilities and threats we face and secure our network to all the end points,” said Lai.
“With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect, we want to improve our security posture and be able to uncover, contain and prevent threats even before they occur. We will partner more closely with Logicalis Security Consulting Team to become more proactive in detecting and preventing new threats,” he added.