Business challenge

Financial traders demand extreme speed and availability from trading systems. As its client base grew, ActivTrades wanted to cut latency, accelerate execution and streamline the delivery of new functions.

Transformation

ActivTrades migrated three major trading systems from on-premises infrastructure to IBM Cloud for VMware solutions, backed by data storage, networking and security offerings on the IBM Cloud.

Results

Up to 3X

performance boost, helping clients seize fleeting opportunities for profit

Security-rich

cloud platform with ultra-high availability protects client investments

Hours not days

to fire up new resources, for faster response to emerging requirements

Business challenge story

Accelerating growth

As a leading online broker in forex, commodities, equities, cryptocurrencies, indices and other financial instruments, ActivTrades enables investors to buy and sell on numerous financial markets.

Clients of ActivTrades need reliable access to accurate market information, combined with the ability to move rapidly to execute trades. This is because the market value of many financial instruments is volatile, and any delay in the online financial trading may turn a potential profit into a loss. For leveraged investments – where the broker lends money to the investor – the impact of a small movement in price is magnified, making it all the more important for clients to be able to respond rapidly to changing market conditions.

ActivTrades runs a proprietary online trading platform, ActivTrader, as well as two popular trading platforms: MetaTrader 4 and 5. Using these platforms, clients can access up-to-date account information, pricing, education resources and online trading tools to manage their financial portfolios and develop their investment strategies. Although ActivTrades was already providing highly responsive service, the company wanted to improve the availability and performance of its trading platforms in order to stay ahead of its competitors.

Sashko Lazov, IT Manager at ActivTrades, comments: “From the perspective of our client services, we wanted to cut latency, minimize delays in pricing, and improve our execution speed. We had a great service already, but we wanted to further improve client satisfaction.”

The combination of vSphere and bare metal servers gives us full flexibility in managing the virtual servers, backed by the convenience of the bundled IBM services around networking, cloud security, storage and VMware licensing.

Sashko Lazov, IT Manager, ActivTrades

Transformation story

Moving to the cloud

ActivTrades knew that its existing on-premises infrastructure would not scale easily to accommodate rapidly growing numbers of clients. The company also wanted to increase the speed at which it could set up new servers, in order to bring new functionality to its clients faster. To address both requirements, ActivTrades decided to migrate from on-premises servers to the cloud. The company ran a detailed comparison of the leading global cloud services providers and undertook several proof-of-concept exercises before selecting IBM as the best provider for its needs.

“We tested the speed of the servers and the different portfolio offerings,” says Lazov. “One important element was that IBM offers bare metal servers that we can manage for ourselves. This, and IBM’s experience with the financial services industry, made IBM Cloud a perfect fit for ActivTrades.”

While ActivTrades was already using VMware virtualization on its on-premises infrastructure, the company decided to rebuild this environment afresh on the IBM Cloud, in order to optimize the architecture and avoid bringing any existing configuration issues into the new cloud environment. ActivTrades deployed VMware vSphere on IBM Cloud, taking advantage of IBM Cloud bare metal servers specially configured by IBM for optimal performance and compatibility with VMware. ActivTrades’ chosen solution includes virtual LANs, network security appliances and user-customizable storage, providing everything required for building and managing a virtualized server landscape.

By taking advantage of robust networking and security services on IBM Cloud, ActivTrades has improved the availability of its services while strengthening its systems against unauthorized intrusion. Both are key elements in the company’s reputation in the market, helping to maintain the trust of clients.

“Migrating to the cloud was a major project lasting several months, during which we received great support and assistance from IBM,” says Lazov. “The combination of vSphere and bare metal servers gives us full flexibility in managing the virtual servers, backed by the convenience of the bundled IBM services around networking, cloud security, storage and VMware licensing. Another advantage of choosing the IBM Cloud was the ability to host our services in more than one data center to protect against disaster.”

With its mission-critical trading platforms running on VMware vSphere on IBM Cloud, ActivTrades now has the capacity to settle more than a million transactions per day in real-time, and can summon up additional capacity with just a few mouse-clicks.

“This is a fast-paced business and traders expect a lot of flexibility and speed,” says Lazov. “In the past, we had to wait days to stand up a new service, and now we can do that within hours using VMware vSphere on IBM Cloud.”

The fact that a large portion of our critical infrastructure is on the IBM Cloud speaks for itself.

Sashko Lazov, IT Manager, ActivTrades

Results

Fast, flexible, highly secure trading

By adopting VMware vSphere on IBM Cloud, ActivTrades has reduced latency, helping to bring valuable new information to clients’ attention faster. This enables them to operate flexibly and seize short-lived opportunities for profit. The IBM Cloud solution has improved overall system performance by up to a factor of three, contributing to higher execution speed for clients.

“The fact that a large portion of our critical infrastructure is on the IBM Cloud speaks for itself,” says Lazov. “The enhanced performance, efficiency and security this provides will help us stay one step ahead. The new platform also offers cost savings compared with our previous on-premises environment, and gives us greater flexibility and scalability as the business grows.”

In a fast moving and highly competitive industry, the ability to bring new offerings to market faster should help ActivTrades maintain leadership and build on its reputation with clients.

“We are very proud of our relationship with IBM, and we think it speaks volumes that we have chosen to work with this strong brand name that resonates with our clients,” concludes Lazov. “For both ActivTrades and our clients, it was the right decision to choose IBM.”

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About ActivTrades

ActivTrades is an independent broker offering financial trading services in foreign exchange Contracts for Difference (CFDs) and Spread Betting. Clients can trade many instruments including Forex, Shares, Indices, Metals, Commodities, ETFs and more.

Established in 2001 in Switzerland, ActivTrades grew to become a global derivatives broker for both retail and institutional clients, and moved its headquarters to London in 2005. It now operates from five different locations: London, Milan, Dubai, Sofia and the Bahamas. The company offers enhanced client protection: ActivTraces clients get negative balance protection, funds in segregated accounts and additional insurance. ActivTrades is certified to the globally recognized standard ISO27001, which offers enhanced security.

The company offers its proprietary trading platform ActivTrader, available for desktop and as an iOS trading app. Clients can also trade using the globally established MetaTrader 4 and 5. ActivTrades aims to combine advanced technology with outstanding service to help its clients achieve their full potential.

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/Cloud/Vmware

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