As someone who has implemented and managed a complex trading application, I was inspired write about my experiences of adopting AWS in a front-to-back trading system environment, and how this could be a potential game changer for those facing similar challenges.
Back in December 2017 Murex announced its Mx.3 platform was available on AWS. This was significant because offering Murex as a SaaS solution and certifying that the application can be run by clients on AWS infrastructure, provides a significant opportunity for the many organisations who are struggling to effectively manage their Murex infrastructure.
I have been involved in many Murex projects on and off for the past 15 years, working with a wide range of financial institutions across Europe and North America. Whether you are running Murex, or any other complex front-to-back trading system, the concepts are much the same and the benefits to be gained from such a move can be very significant.
If you had told me five years ago that today I would be advocating running Murex in the cloud, I would have laughed and said it was too risky; there are too many things that could go wrong and that Murex would never agree to it. But now having the direct experience of working on a cloud transformation, and seeing the additional capabilities AWS can provide, I have become utterly convinced it is the right thing to do. After moving to AWS, we slashed the project timelines and our regression testing cycle, delivering higher quality functionality to the business much faster than ever before possible. AWS really is a potential ‘game-changer’ for those looking to transform their Murex technology environment.
The following are three of the key insights we learnt from this experience.
- Unlimited horizontal scalability
Being able to scale your compute power at will means you can manage any increase in trading volume and activity without breaking a sweat. Murex has a horizontally scalable layer where it does the majority of its computations and this layer can now automatically be scaled up or down based on CPU usage, trade volume or time of day. For computationally intensive jobs such as VaR, one can allocate a group of servers and as trade population grows, these groups can be manually or automatically scaled to handle the capacity. When the servers are not needed they can be stopped and you only pay for what you use. Additionally, when using high performance computing (HPC) grids, users now have unlimited scalability of servers and the latest graphical processing unit (GPU) configurations available.
- Automated environment management with ‘infrastructure as code’
You don’t need production workloads to get the benefits. Automated environment management enables the immediate provisioning of new environments, whatever the need may be. Managing the environments for a Murex implementation can be a frustrating experience as the configuration itself can be complex, with business lines often competing for limited capacity. Development and testing of new products and functionality can also take many months and development environments can quickly fall out of synch with production, making the deployment of changes risky and error prone. With infrastructure as code and a pay-as-you-go model you can spin up custom development environments at will and have dedicated environments for every work stream. With the use of the managed relational database service (RDS), you can reduce the dependency on the DBA teams, have unlimited capacity, and gain better overall control of your environments.
- The risks are small the benefits are great
The benefits of moving to the cloud with AWS far outweigh any perceived complications or risk. Just some of the additional benefits include: automated security patching, no more procurement of hardware, centralised logging with CloudWatch, efficient messaging services (such as SNS and SQS), and serverless processing with lambda. These all lead to faster development turnaround times for critical business functionality.
There are always some risks when moving platforms, but with Murex certifying the application on AWS, some of the roadblocks have now been removed. Cloud migration should be a priority for anyone looking to modernise their derivatives trading environments.
So if I could go back five years and teach my younger self a thing or two about where Murex would be heading, I would definitely advocate not holding back, embrace the cloud and migrate as soon as possible!