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Direct Edge Stock Exchange Uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Parallel Data Warehouse to Scale Trading

Business Profile: Direct Edge Stock Exchange

“Microsoft Parallel Data Warehouse is a real win for us. The combination of SQL Server 2008 R2 and the PDW appliance is extraordinarily powerful. Our stock exchange needs very high reliability, very high processing speeds, excellent security and ease of use. SQL Server 2008 R2 and PDW delivers. The deployment was as smooth and seamless as Microsoft promised. We’re purchasing something that scales into the hundreds of terabytes range.”

– Richard Hochron, Chief Technology Officer at
Direct Edge Stock Exchange in Jersey City, N.J.

Quick Facts

Direct Edge, Jersey City, NJ Stock Exchange

Products Used:
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW)

Trades 1 to 2 billion stock shares daily; generates 2 terabytes of new data monthly

Scalability to hundreds of terabytes of data
High Reliability
Fast load times
Seamless deployment
Ease of use
Ease of management

Direct Edge is a Jersey City, NJ based stock exchange operating two separate platforms: the EDGA Exchange and the EDGX Exchange. Direct Edge trades all listed U.S. equities… On any given trading day, Direct Edge is ranked as the third or fourth largest stock market in the United States. With a market share in the 10%-12% range, Direct Edge regularly trades 1 billion to 2 billion shares per day, fluctuating with the overall market volume. Time is literally money for Direct Edge and its customers. The stock exchange requires extremely high reliability, exceptional performance and latency and bulletproof security. Direct Edge is also known for its technical innovation and that includes deploying a database capable of massively scaling. Direct Edge is a longtime Microsoft user, but before settling on SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), the stock exchange did its due diligence and put Microsoft and the product through rigorous tests. ITIC Principal Laura DiDio interviewed Direct Edge Chief Technology Officer Richard Hochron about the reasons it chose SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW and its deployment and usage experiences with the data warehouse platform.


ITIC: What convinced Direct Edge to choose SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW over more established high end data warehouse platforms?

Richard Hochron: We’re a very Microsoft-centric shop. We use .Net and SQL Server running on Hewlett-Packard hardware. .Net and SQL Server are both are extraordinarily powerful. One of the big selling points was performance; the Business Intelligence (BI) Tools helped us evaluate and test the PDW platform. Direct Edge has its own SMB SAN and front end device. We needed a scalable, highly reliable and manageable platform. We like the administrative aspects of PDW; it’s very easy to manage and maintain even though it’s massively powerful. This is crucial because we have only a handful of DB administrators. It’s important for us to be able to efficiently troubleshoot our database environment. Microsoft shared all product details with us during a series of educational/training meetings. PDW is very well engineered.

ITIC: Did Direct Edge have any hesitancy about deploying PDW because it’s a new product?

RH: No. Microsoft worked with us and they put their “A” team behind it and pulled out all the stops to illustrate that PDW delivers the necessary performance and reliability. Microsoft’s service and support has also been outstanding. Direct Edge has access to all the SQL technical service and support teams. Microsoft also has a clearly defined PDW roadmap and that’s important to us. The few missing pieces of product functionality will be delivered and augmented in the not too distant future. We also take advantage of the extras provided in licensing deals for training and tech support.

ITIC: What were the most important technical and business considerations/criteria that factored into Direct Edge’s decision to deploy SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW?

RH: Number one was performance followed by cost, maintainability/manageability, scalability and security. SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW was a logical choice for us. Load times were another crucial criteria: Microsoft says PDW can load up to 1 TB [of data] per hour; and we sell 990 MBs per hour. One thing we did in our proof of concept (POC) testing was use actual data and inflate it to prove that PDW could get the job done. On the business side, we wanted to see the whole BI stack at work. It’s important for our end users, like the accounting staff to be able to easily use PDW’s features. We have existing DB warehouses and we want to leverage the entire Microsoft application stack (e.g., SharePoint). Direct Edge’s accounting staff has customized data they keep in their own individual spreadsheets. But our subject matter experts (SMEs) are not technically savvy. They require integration and interoperability between PDW and specialized apps like Power Pivot. SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW incorporates a Web-based interface for monitoring. We can see how queries are performed and if hash functions are set up correctly. PDW gives us the tools to let our business folks do the analytics and reporting, while providing ease of use. It’s powerful and empowering.

ITIC: Is Direct Edge satisfied with SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW security?

RH: Yes. Solid security is a must both externally and internally and PDW delivers. SQL Server has been the most secure database platform with the fewest number of security alerts since 2003. This is very reassuring. Active Directory (AD) lets us set policies at a global level which is very powerful.

ITIC: What’s your assessment of PDW? Does it live up to expectations?

RH: SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW is a real win. Microsoft advertises that it ships in a rack and that you hook it up and deploy it easily. PDW’s installation has proved as smooth and seamless as Microsoft promised. We’re also very pleased with PDW’s performance and scalability into the hundreds of terabytes. PDW has performed phenomenally well in our POC evaluation and pilot and it’s priced very competitively.

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