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storage in harmony
nothing more important for an online exchange, than to provide
its customers 24x7 access while sticking to the rigid regulatory
norms laid down by SEBI. Here's how Refo-Sify implemented
a mix-n-match, reliable and scalable storage solution to guarantee
it customers zero downtime. by Soutiman Dasgupta
Securities India Private Limited has to adhere to rigid set
of regulations to protect its customers. After all a site
that offers online and offline equity and futures trading
for retail customers need to keep its socks pulled up all
the time. It's the customer's money at stake. The company
needed to offer 24x7 availability to its customers and stick
to the regulatory norms laid down by SEBI (Securities Exchange
Board of India). The norms require historical data to be continuously
available for a specific period. The key to make all this
happen was to get serious about data storage and establish
a fool-proof enterprise storage solution.
The solution needed to be reliable, redundant, scalable, allow
easy backup and recovery, and provide business continuity.
After evaluating several data storage vendors, Manoj Chandiramani,
Assistant Vice President, Networks, decided to use storage
systems from Compaq and Sun. Solutions from the two vendors
co-exist in harmony and provide real-time storage with facilities
for backup and fail-over. "We can support growing numbers
of users without the fear of losing critical financial data.
The solution is built to support our needs for the next three
years. And we have the flexibility to move to a SAN architecture
in future", said Manoj.
The need to store
An online exchange should allow throughput in high-volumes
and have little room for downtime. The solution has to be
robust, reliable, and integrate well with the backend architecture.
Since Refco-Sify decided to use Oracle 8i as the database,
the storage needed to support the related applications as
decided not to use a server-based storage solution because
you have to keep adding disks to the server as data volumes
increase and it is not fool-proof. A cluster lets the system
automatically switchover in case of disk failure. One can
'hot-swap' disks without interrupting the operations and still
maintain integrity of the data. You can also create a logical
partition in the same physical storage", pointed out
Dual vendor harmony
prefers to use a mix-n-match of solutions from Compaq and
Sun. It uses Compaq's PL 5500R servers, PL 6400R servers,
ML 330 servers, DL 380R servers, RAID Array 4100 storage boxes,
Fiber Switches, ProLiant servers and Compaq PCs. And it uses
Sun's E3500 servers, 220R servers, 250R servers, Array 1000
storage boxes, Array 5000 storage boxes, and Ultra servers.
The storage applications are managed by Compaq StorageWorks
Command Console and Microsoft Cluster Server software on Compaq
boxes. Sun's boxes run proprietary storage software. There
is a logical partition on each storage box to increase reliability.
The online exchange site uses e-commerce solutions from BroadVision.
A proprietary order routing application called RORS is used
to route orders to the stock exchanges.
The Compaq hardware runs Windows NT 4.0 Server as the NOS
(Network Operating System) and the Sun hardware uses Solaris.
The Oracle 8i database is run along with Oracle Fail Safe
and Oracle Parallel Server. Oracle Fail Safe works with Microsoft
Cluster Server to restart Oracle databases and applications
on a surviving cluster node in the event of a system failure.
And Oracle Parallel Server is an architecture that allows
multiple instances to access a shared database.
The company used products from two different hardware vendors
and two different NOSs to take advantage of the features offered
by both. "We could have used Solaris on an Intel platform
loaded on a Compaq box to give us the features of Solaris.
But we wanted to use Sun's iPlanet as a Web server because
it is a stable and strong product", said Manoj.
The storage boxes operate at RAID Level 5 and the network
is designed to suit different configurations. This will help
add servers and storage capacity in future. One can transform
the existing storage configuration into a SAN (Storage Area
Network) which will run on both NT and Solaris. The SAN can
create a common pool of storage for the entire network.
Building storage and security
There was a team of vendors and solution providers that helped
implement the network. Despite the herculean task to manage
and coordinate the delivery schedules of the different vendors
and consultants, the entire solution was up and running in
75 days. "We tested the performance of the system and
discovered that it can login 500 simultaneous users and execute
each request in less than a second. In case of a surge in
data traffic during peak hours I can add additional hardware
to support the load" declared Manoj.
Security solutions have been provided by Checkpoint. The applications
run on Cisco hardware which is placed at the gateway level.
This forbids unwanted access and data to be eliminated at
the entry level.
Refco-Sify Securities India Pvt. Limited offers
online and offline equity and futures trading
for retail customers, as well as execution and
clearing services for financial institutions.
It has to adhere to a rigid set of regulatory
norms to protect its customers.
The need was for a robust, reliable and scalable
enterprise storage solution that integrated well
with its existing backend architecture at the
same time preserving seven years of historical
data, as stipulated by SEBI.
The company opted for a mix of enterprise storage
solutions from Compaq and Sun. It uses two StorageWorks
RA4100 boxes and 16 rack-mounted 6400R ProLiant
servers from Compaq and ten 500 and 220R servers
The online transaction system can log in 500 simultaneous
users and execute each request in less than a
second with additional facility for managing excess
load. In case all the servers in the cluster fail
simultaneously, the data can be recovered within
Regulatory norms stipulate that transaction details should
be available to clients for 90 days. SEBI (Securities and
Exchange Board of India) may want to access a year's data
anytime. And Refco-Sify has to preserve historical data for
seven years. This means there should be adequate backup and
recovery mechanisms to complement data storage.
Backup is taken on DLTs (Digital Linear Tapes). The company
uses Compaq StorageWorks 40/80 and 35/70 and DLT drives from
HP for its backup needs. Two sets of backup are maintained
at the main office in Mumbai and at another remote location.
"The remote location lies in a separate seismic zone,"
said Manoj. Backup is taken everyday at midnight since this
is when traffic is the least and there is minimum downtime.
Recovery of data is facilitated by the use of server clusters.
The advantage of a cluster solution is that if one server
fails the others can take over automatically. If a hard drive
in a server fails, it can be removed and new one put in its
place without the box going down. "In the worst case,
if all the clusters fail the site can be up and data can be
recovered in 45 minutes by tweaking the system" promised
Down the road
In future Refco-Sify wants to convert its enterprise storage
solution into a SAN. "All I have to do is add a small
component to the Compaq box to make it function in a SAN",
said Manoj. This way, the company can offer additional services
to its clients. And data stored at the site can be secure
since it is inside the company's network and backups can be
taken as usual.
The company wants to add more storage boxes to the network
by April 2002. Currently, each storage box has a logical partition
which allows the other partition in the same box to take over
in case of failure. But what happens if the entire box fails?
With more boxes in the network, a separate server can act
as the fail-over.
do not have plans to migrate to Windows 2000 right away for
the Compaq boxes. This is because we aren't sure whether we
would get enough support and expertise from all our partners
for a recently launched product. And NT 4.0 is able to support
all the functions I need very well. We will only migrate if
any feature we require is not supported in NT 4.0", explained
would like to use robotic arms for our backup operations.
Loading each DLT drive can be a painful task. You need to
have a person at it all the time. Automating the process can
save time and manpower", said Manoj.
Refco-Sify Securities Private Ltd. a joint venture
between Refco Group Ltd., LLC and Satyam Infoway
Limited offers online equity and futures trading
for retail clients, as well as execution and clearing
services for financial institutions.
company started its online operations in August
2001. It is linked to the NSE (National Stock
Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) through
VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) links and
leased lines. The links are backed up by an ISDN
connection. Refco-Sify has five hundred plus clients