CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets Unifies Operating Systems

Exponential growth sent CLSA looking for a more robust IT infrastructure. Sun's HP Migration program provided a path toward maximizing performance and minimizing costs.

As one of the leading brokerage, investment banking, and private equity houses in Asia, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets couldn't afford to ignore its mounting need for reliable data storage and rapid backup and recovery. When CLSA evaluated industry leading vendor support, the company was looking for unmatched cost savings and superior performance from a single operating system across servers. Sun's Solaris platform was the easy choice.

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, one of Asia's top brokerage houses, and Sun Microsystems Finance services worked together to provide CLSA with a long term, highly scalable, and cost-effective program to migrate from CLSA's existing Hewlett-Packard (HP) servers to new Sun Fire 15K servers. Sun Microsystems proposed a total solution approach with the Sun Fire 15K servers, software, Sun Services, and an attractive lease proposition with technology refreshment options developed by Sun Microsystems Finance services. This resulted in a unified UNIX environment running Sun's Solaris 8 Operating System. Sun's solution enabled CLSA to easily manage application migrations, enjoy a greater service support level, and lower maintenance costs.

Sun worked with CLSA to evaluate its business growth and analyze how its existing infrastructure could serve the company's forecasted growth. To accommodate CLSA's strategic growth plan, Sun proposed the HP Migration program, which bundles Sun Fire 15K servers and Sun Services into a single, easy payment plan, thus enabling CLSA to distribute its investment costs over time. In addition, to address the scalability of CLSA's business, Sun Microsystems Finance services included a technology refreshment plan that would enable CLSA to upgrade to Sun's new technology as they expand. By expending the time and effort necessary to truly understand the nature of CLSA's use of technology and by identifying ways in which CLSA could benefit from greater cost savings while increasing performance levels, Sun became more than just a vendor—offering a truly unique working relationship. When CLSA evaluated industry leading vendor support, the company was looking for unmatched cost savings and superior performance from a single operating system across servers. Sun's Solaris platform was the easy choice.

"Sun provided a clear upgrade path with its commitment and value on the Solaris Operating System." - Andrew Yu, head of infrastructure, CLSA

CLSA: Benchmark for Excellence in Asian Financial Industry

CLSA Pacific-Markets, a unit of France's Credit Agricole banking group, is recognized as one of the leading brokerage, investment banking, and private equity houses in Asia. Its comprehensive research has long been accepted as the benchmark for excellence among institutional investors, brokers, and investment banks throughout the Asia-Pacific region. CLSA employs researchers and trading teams in London, New York, Tokyo, and Singapore, as well as in all major Asia equity markets. CLSA has seen exponential growth in its data storage requirements, driving the need for higher levels of real-time data replication and rapid backup and recovery. Andrew Yu, head of infrastructure at CLSA, was faced with increasing demands for bandwidth, data availability, and replication while minimizing costs and maximizing performance.

Like any large enterprise delivering software and services to geographically disparate branch offices and customers, CLSA relies on its back-end infrastructure of high-end servers to deliver mission-critical tools such as its enterprise application integration and back office automation software, the trading backbone for their financial systems. Cost and value for each technology dollar spent are critical factors to be addressed whenever CLSA considers infrastructure investments.

Sun Seen as Unique Partner in Platform Migration

CLSA's existing platform was a combination of operating systems and equipment powering its mission-critical application servers and backoffice infrastructure. It encompassed a range of HP servers, three operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, HP-UX, and Solaris, and its Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) platform from WebMethods, back office systems from Nova, and Oracle databases.

As Head of Infrastructure for CLSA, Yu is always looking for the most effective ways to maintain the company's highly sophisticated trading network headquartered in Hong Kong, while reaching across the globe to CLSA's offices throughout Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Yu is accustomed to dealing with vendors and IT providers, but he found Sun to be a unique supplier. "Most vendors try to push their products only whenever there is an upgrade or new release. Sun acted more like a partner. They understood our needs and concerns and approached the migration from a standpoint of return on investment, performance, and support, three things that are extremely important to us," he explained.

HP Migration Program Minimizes Risks in Moving to Homogenous Platform

Sun evaluated CLSA's data center environment and proposed the HP Migration program, which is designed to help customers minimize risks with migration consultation, Sun's Solaris Operating System migration assessment, and attractive financial packages. The program enabled CLSA to move its server platforms away from mixed environments comprised of HP and Sun's components to a homogenous platform of Sun's servers running a single OS. "Support from the vendor was a key element in our decision to consolidate our UNIX platforms. We require a strong commitment to support and supply the product," stated Yu. "Sun provided a clear upgrade path with its commitment and value on the Solaris Operating System."

Sun Demonstrates Customer Commitment; Proves Performance Benefits

Sun has a long-term strategy to support and develop the Solaris Operating System. To demonstrate its commitment to its products and to customers like CLSA, Sun flew Yu out to its Executive Briefing Center in Menlo Park, California to meet with engineers and executives, and to see and discuss the Sun roadmap. CLSA and Sun spent a week in the Sun Customer Benchmark Center in Palo Alto, California to test the performance of the WebMethods integration server 6.1 on the Sun Fire 15K server. The objective was to compare the performance of the Sun Fire 15K server to the existing HP 7410 server. There were five domains set up on the Sun Fire 15K server with five UltraSPARC III uniboards utilizing the Sun Fireplane interconnect technology. The results revealed that the Sun Fire 15K server with four CPUs is faster than the HP server with eight PA-8700 CPUs. One of the test cases resulted in the Sun Fire 15K server running 50 percent faster than the HP server.

Sun demonstrated to CLSA that the consolidated Solaris Operating System was the key to reliability and cost savings versus maintaining the HP system. With the Sun solution, CLSA can also realize reduced maintenance costs in training and improved knowledge sets for in-house system administrators by reducing the number of operating systems with which they need to be proficient. Performance benefits were immediately seen as the two Sun Fire 15K servers were brought into production.

Effective IT investment with Flexible Payment Plan and Technology Refreshment

CLSA also aimed to reduce total costs of ownership. Sun Microsystems Finance services tailor made a five-year payment plan which bundles Sun's hardware, software, and services thus enabling CLSA to realize its investment returns over five years versus upfront capital investments. The plan also includes a technology refreshment option that enables CLSA to scale its infrastructure requirements with minimum investments. This represents the first time CLSA opted for a lease program utilizing its existing maintenance budget from operating expenses for its IT infrastructure requirements. "The efficient utilization of technology is key in managing our data center and ownership is incidental," says Yu.

20 Percent Savings in Man Hours and Maintenance Costs Over Previous HP Environment

Currently, both Sun Fire 15K servers are online and handling CLSA's enterprise application integration platform and other mission-critical applications essential to its trading operations. The installation went smoothly and has already resulted in a 20 percent savings in man hours and maintenance costs over the HP equipment and the multiple OS environment. Increased savings were also found in the improved capacity to execute seamless local and remote failover due to the unified platform. "We greatly appreciate Sun's initiative in taking the time to understand our business challenges and then offering solutions that help meet those challenges. The combination of unifying our operating systems on Sun, better vendor support, superior performance, and maintenance savings demonstrated that Sun is the right partner for us," explains Yu.

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