Service Sports Compliance Sidecar

UK carrier offers iSCSI storage with its stock-exchange access service

October 11, 2006

4 Min Read
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Time for a quiz. If you answer "yes" to the following questions, you may be able to get some fast and easy iSCSI storage -- without investing in new equipment:

  • Do you work for a financial services firm?

  • Are you looking to Ethernet services for faster automated trading and stock reports?

  • Is your company located in London or New York?

If you answered any in the affirmative, a U.K.-based carrier, Exponential-e, is ready to sell you an unlimited amount of SATA-based iSCSI disk capacity with Ethernet links to various stock exchanges.

The service, called Financial Service Creation Platform (Financial SCP), offers customers Ethernet LAN connectivity to the Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Board Options Exchange, the Deutsche Beorse in Europe, and the Securities Industry Corporation (SIAC), which in turn incorporates links to the New York and American Stock Exchanges -- all via a single circuit operating at rates from 10 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s. On top of that, customers can add any amount of iSCSI storage to network in order to keep records of the transactions they make.

The goal is to offer double-digit improvement in access time for financial firms, while ensuring that when the compliance guys knock, they'll be ready.

It's a new twist on a growing trend. In the U.S., another carrier, Yipes Enterprise Services, which has a partnership agreement with Exponential-e for facilities sharing, also provides Ethernet links directly to worldwide stock exchanges -- and to a range of market data feeds as well. (See Yipes, Exponential-e Hook Up.) Customers also can order Yipes Protect, an online backup service offered by Yipes in connection with Iron Mountain. But Yipes's FinancialConnect service does not come with integral iSCSI storage.Still, the idea of a compliance sidecar makes incredible sense for these kinds of tailored Ethernet services. "We're hearing that financial services companies are getting increasingly fined by their regulatory authorities. If they can't produce emails or other backup documents, the regulators act as though they have destroyed them, and they get fined," says Harvey Jones, marketing director of Exponential-e. In September alone, he claims U.S. firms were fined over $16 million for not having emails or other specific kinds of documents ready to hand when the regulators called.

Exponential-e offers its iSCSI storage through a supplier aptly named iSCSI Appliance Ltd., which in turn is linked to a larger outfit called Fortuna Power System Ltd. (The two share a phone number.) The iSCSI Appliance wares are white-box offerings that incorporate software from LeftHand Networks. Systems comprise off-the-shelf SATA storage of up to 600 Tbytes per base system.

The systems are incorporated onto Exponential-e's network, which includes its own facilities as well as links to other carriers' networks (to Yipes's, for example) as needed. When Exponential-e sells a Financial SCP Ethernet VLAN, customers can layer on iSCSI storage in any increment, along with Internet access, hosting, video conferencing, surveillance, and voice.

"We produce tailored solutions for medium to large enterprises. We layer services of different kinds," says Jones.

Pricing for Financial FCP, with or without iSCSI storage, is also tailored, and ranges from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars per month, depending on the scale and configuration.Jones says at least 10 Exponential-e customers are trialing the new service, which was announced today. But no one's willing to talk. "There is a great deal of secrecy kept by our customers as they often feel that we have given them a commercial edge... They often have security concerns about making such information widely available," Jones maintains.

It's probably a safe bet that those early adopters include medium-sized to large financial enterprises -- particularly judging by takers for Yipes's competitive offering. Among customers for Yipes's FinancialConnect are Chicago's RedSky Financial and optionsXpress.

The privately held and funded Exponential-e also has good prospects. With about 400 customers, the 54-employee firm claims to be profitable. It's also ready to help suppliers outside its realm of 11 U.K. points of presence. Besides Yipes, other carrier partners include European hosting firm IXEurope and Hibernia Atlantic, the first provider to offer a transatlantic 10-Gbit/s Ethernet LAN link.

On the downside, Exponential-e's Financial SCP isn't as well connected as Yipes's offering. But more exchanges will be added soon, the carrier says. It's working to add market data feeds and access to clearing houses and trading floors.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Exponential-e Ltd.

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Yipes Enterprise Services Inc.0

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