As a member of the London Stock Exchange Group’s technology services, X2M independently provides reliable, low latency trading access to the international financial markets.
Delivering highly customised solutions, X2M offers its clients:
- Resilient e-trading IT infrastructures
- Proximity hosting services
- And high performance market data and trading feed connectivity to a network of exchanges and MTFs globally
The need to solve problems in a fast market
Consistently delivering optimised performance is integral to X2M’s shared service offering. Therefore, with multiple clients using the service at any one time, being able to rapidly identify, isolate and resolve developing issues that could negatively impact a client’s execution performance is a major priority for the firm. And in today’s high-speed markets these problems need to be solved fast.
Keen to proactively manage their network performance, X2M required a solution that would:
- Immediately detect and pinpoint embryonic network issues
- Then provide technical teams with the tools to quickly and effectively investigate the problem’s root cause
These capabilities would enable X2M to offer a service that could reliably provide maximum resiliency and infrastructure availability.
To effectively measure and manage performance across their fast moving and high volume environment, X2M implemented TipOff®.
Utilising non-intrusive network data capture techniques, Tipoff offered the ability to conduct detailed real-time and retrospective network analysis, enabling:
- Microbursts to be detected and analysed
- Client bandwidth utilisation to be effectively understood
- TCP re-transmissions and traffic quality metrics to be analysed
Ultimately enabling X2M to instantly detect emerging issues and forensically analyse problems, right down to the individual network packet and nanosecond level.
TipOff has enabled X2M to more effectively solve problems in a fast market. X2M’s technical team uses TipOff to manage their network performance, and their client services team uses the solution to more easily investigate issues reported by their clients.
Bandwidth and capacity management
Using TipOff’s bandwidth analysis capabilities, X2M is able to examine the traffic flowing across their networks with millisecond granularity. So when a connection becomes saturated they can quickly investigate what is happening, determine its exact cause and avoid future capacity issues emerging.
X2M offers a shared infrastructure and using TipOff has enabled the firm to very easily understand the utilisation of each client on their infrastructure. This has proven very useful in isolating problems for a single customer, enabling X2M to more quickly and effectively gain a detailed understanding of the issue. It has also proven valuable for capacity management, enabling bandwidth to be examined collectively.
X2M also uses TipOff to help explain to clients that they are suffering from microbursts. For example, it has been used to demonstrate that although a client’s average bandwidth utilisation during a particular time period, such as a second, may be a relatively small percentage of their overall allowance, that during a single microsecond they are sending the vast majority of their network packets.
These big bursts of data, taking place within a fraction of a second, can have a critical impact on downstream applications that struggle to efficiently process the data, generating latency issues.
TipOff has been used by X2M to graphically demonstrate to clients, that they are currently dropping packets because of microbursts, and that their bandwidth needs to be increased to overcome these challenges.
Efficient fault management
TipOff enables X2M to work with its clients to identify exactly where the cause of a problem lies within the end-to-end trade process. These could be problems that are originating:
- Within the client’s infrastructure
- On the X2M network
- Or at the exchange
With TipOff in place X2M can, for example, identify if it is not receiving all expected information from a client’s device, indicating that a fault may have occurred on the client’s line.
Using TipOff to isolate where in the process a problem has occurred has proven highly advantageous to X2M, enabling the firm to substantially reduce fault identification time frames.
Having witnessed first-hand how valuable TipOff’s network analysis has proven to be in resolving in-bound client queries, X2M has decided to offer its clients direct access to TipOff’s analytics as a service.
With this service, X2M will proactively identify problems that may be emerging within the client’s infrastructure impacting their execution performance and immediately apprise clients of the situation. With this advanced notification, clients can quickly investigate developing issues significantly earlier than they would have otherwise been able to. Additionally, they can also adjust their trading behaviour whilst the problem is being resolved to avoid generating further unintended trading losses.
With this service, clients could be informed of a wide variety of issues, including, but not limited to:
- The emergence of microbursts, indicating that a component, such as a switch within their infrastructure, may be suffering from congestion. As a result, the switch may be queuing up packets before sending them, generating latency issues.
- Advising clients that they are reaching their bandwidth capacity. Providing details of the client’s utilisation, X2M can then work with the client to avoid future problems developing, by for instance increasing their bandwidth to provide the additional headroom needed to accommodate for spikes in their usage.
- Problems occurring within their infrastructure that could result in market data or trading feeds not being consumed as expected
With this insight, clients will be able to more proactively manage the performance of their infrastructures, and avoid suffering from issues that could ultimately result in execution delays and trading losses.