CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets

Hong Kong brokerage typifies enterprises throwing out ATM in favor of optical networking with SAN

February 11, 2004

3 Min Read
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A financial services company headquartered in Hong Kong has become a poster child for optical SANs. Over the last year, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets has installed its own DWDM network with associated SAN services linking 12 regional branches and taking input from other remote sites globally.

The project is notable on several fronts: First, CLSA replaced an ATM network with an optical DWDM one, using equipment from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). By doing so, it increased bandwidth by a factor of 20 and streamlined its applications. CLSA also incorporated Fibre Channel SAN services into the optical network, increasing overall availability.

Because the project involves a large brokerage, is located in the Asia/Pacific region, and involves a range of high-profile vendors, you'd think more information would be forthcoming. Surprisingly, though, it's been tough to get details outside of a press release from Cisco (see Cisco Adds DWDM Replication in HK). Nonetheless, here are the basics:

  • DWDM: CLSA is using Cisco's ONS 15530 DWDM switch, along with services from Hutchison Global Communications, to create its own metro network linking its primary Hong Kong data center with others in Kowloon and other regional offices in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, and Mumbai. The first applications are for data only, although video and VOIP are in the pipeline, according to Cisco.

  • Connectivity: CLSA replaced ATM switches and Cisco routers with the new DWDM gear, and tapped Hutchison to replace its DS3 leased lines with Fast Ethernet links. The use of Hutchison apparently doesn't affect other services, not related to this implementation, that CLSA is getting from carrier Equant (NYSE: ENT; Paris: EQU).

  • SAN: CLSA has consolidated and centralized its IT operations, replacing fiber-based, direct-attached storage with SAN gear from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). To do this, CLSA has bought two Symmetrix 8530 systems, four Connectrix systems, and a range of software from EMC, including its ControlCenter product and the data management tools EMC acquired with its purchase of Legato (see 2003 Top Ten: Mergers & Acquisitions).

    According to Andrew Yu, head of infrastructure at CLSA, the EMC arrays are linked to the DWDM gear via a switch from McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA). EMC's Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) is used to port data from EMC gear to McData's Fibre Channel director, which then sends it to the DWDM network.

All this has improved efficiency at CLSA. In a statement in Cisco's press release, Yu claims the addition of DWDM has increased data replication bandwidth "six-fold with higher resiliency and at a cost of half as much as maintaining the existing system."Another brokerage spokesman, CIO T. Rajah, says in an EMC statement that the new SAN and replication software gives CLSA the ability to provide hot standby for all applications automatically, something that wasn't possible before. "When Hong Kong was hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in April 2003, we were able to allow more than 50 per cent of our staff to work from home," he says. Further, the company's saving maintenance costs over its old distributed systems, he claims.

It's not clear why the story's been hidden under a bushel, particularly as SAN deployment isn't as common in the Asia/Pacific region as it is in the U.S. and Europe. It's possible the vendors involved were loath to give credit to others, particularly given the notorious sensitivities of other integration partners.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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