Taking transactional or analytical applications "to the extreme", that is supporting millions of people rather than thousands has either required one huge system or finding a way to synchronize the work of hundreds or, perhaps, thousands of machines. Although the folks who work with high performance computing have developed tools for this type of configuration, they often weren't useful for those who are working with established transactional applications.
Those in the industry thank companies such as Google, Amazon and eBay for showing the world that it is possible to create applications that scale to a previously unbelievable level. These companies discovered ways to apply parallel processing techniques to commercial appliactions. RNA Networks has developed tools making this transition much easier. (see the RNA Networks and memory virtualization post for more information about RNA Networks)
Financial services is a market that deploys some of the most intense transactional and analytical applications. Unfortunately speaking with representatives of companies in that market can be frustrating to say the least. Financial services organizations often view their systems as proprietary, competitive weapons and aren't willing to speak about them at all.
This means that getting a representative of one of these organizations to speak about what they're doing can be very difficult. So, the following account has been "synthesized," that is the company and representative names are not presented. There's still a great deal of value to be found in learning about the issues this organization faced and what they did to address those issues.
Please describe your organization and your role within that organization
CTO. In charge of infrastructure to support all traditional and algorithmic trading activities for several offices around the world including UK, China, Japan and Australia.
What are you doing that required this technology?
Algorithmic trading – extremely latency sensitive applications where trade execution is among the most important elements of business success. Trade execution speed is core to our ability to compete in a very competitive market.
What products did you consider before making a selection?
We considered a well -known third party application, actually an updated version of the application we have in place. We also considered developing our own in-house solution but the time and effort were too great.
Why did you select this product?
The two most important factors were the significant increase in trade execution volumes that were seen as well as the simple deployment. We far exceeded our goal on trade volume and basically had to make no real changes to our existing infrastructure. RNA networks brought deep expertise in a number of areas that were helpful throughout our entire trading infrastructure. We saw a very positive cost/benefit ratio and RNA has shown to be a very responsive partner.
What tangible benefits did your organization receive through the use of this product?
We believe we have the fastest trading system in the world, we’re very proud of that. We have been able to run tests and tune the system quickly. And again, we did not need to make any significant changes to our existing applications.
What advice would you offer others facing similar circumstances?
Look closely at the benefits RNA brings to your infrastructure. Also, make sure you take into account the soft benefits as well. That includes the cost of implementing a new solution (low with RNA), and the value the partner brings beyond their core technology.
Who is RNA Networks?
RNA networks is a supplier of virtualization software that transforms server memory into a shared network resource. It offers a Memory Virtualization Platform. The first product based on the platform is called "RNAmessenger."
The goal of memory virtualization, according to RNA Networks, is "unleashing high-performance computing from existing commodity hardware by decoupling memory from the processor and server – transforming memory into an application-aware, shared network resource."
Memory virtualization doesn't fit neatly into the Kusnetzky Group Model of virtualization technology (see the post Sorting out the different layers of virtualization
for more information on this model). It could be seen as a form of processing virtualization or network virtualization. The challenge I face is that RNA Network's catch phrase, Memory Virtualization, appears functionally similar to a number of other industry catch phrases including the following:
- Collaborative Cache
- Distributed Cache
- Enterprise Data Fabric
- Memory virtualization
- Networked Caching
- and Application Acceleration
and what products such as the following do:
- JBoss Cache
- Microsoft's Velocity
- Oracle's Coherrance
- A host of open source project
This tells me that the market is still immature. That being said, it is clear that this customer obtained great benefits with minimal pain associated with those benefits. If your organization is building extreme transactional or analytical applications, looking into this type of technology would be valuable.
Ask for a demo. I believe that you'll be impressed at the results of their technology.