Subject: Multi-stage Migration Project and Ongoing Business Continuity
Industry Sector: Finance
Online share trading and online banking provider Boursorama.com reaps the dividends of hosting with NTT Europe
Boursorama is one of Europe's leading online share trading brokers and in early 2006 became an online bank. Established in 1995, it is part of the Société Générale Group and is active in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
As well as Boursorama Invest, France’s leading online broker, it operates Boursorama.com, France's leading free online financial information portal and Boursorama Banque, an online bank.
Boursorama.com brings together financial information from many sources to provide a single point of access for a range of services including stock market information, discussion forums and company information. As of March 2005, Boursorama.com was receiving 2.8 million unique visitors each month — an increase of half a million a month since November 2004.
Being an exclusively online business, with a high volume of transactions taking place daily, and customers relying on its website information to manage their financial portfolios, Boursorama needs the assurance of reliability and guaranteed uptime. It is also vital that the website's architecture can support the ongoing growth of visitor numbers.
When Boursorama.com was first created, it was hosted in the US by Digital Nation, a company that was subsequently acquired by NTT Europe. In 2003, although very happy with the service, Boursorama decided to review its hosting to ensure it was offering the best service possible to its customers.
The most attractive hosting proposition came from NTT Europe in France. Although Boursorama was not actively looking to move its hosting to Europe, the company could immediately see the potential advantages of doing so.
"Not only did NTT Europe in France offer us the best price," recalls Alexandre Baumeister, Boursorama's IT Director, "but we realised that being hosted in France would bring us physically closer to the majority of our users, and so enable us to provide them with even better response times."
NTT Europe's proposal involved moving the entire hosting solution of Boursorama.com from the US to France, and performing a complete hardware renewal to ensure the server technology was up to date. "NTT Europe's offer was quite simply the best one," says Baumeister, "and we were confident we could trust them because of our existing relationship with Verio in the US."
The multi-stage migration project took five months. When service was switched over to the new Paris platform, Baumeister describes the performance improvement as noticeable. "Response times were already very good," he says, "but having implemented the new servers with their faster processors, and moved the hosting physically to France, we could see for ourselves that response times were faster, which would make a real difference to the level of service we could offer to our users."
Boursorama relies on NTT Europe for the management and maintenance of its hosting infrastructure, while Baumeister and his team handle all the application development and administration. "NTT Europe provides our site hosting, hardware, internet connection, power and data centre security," he explains, "and it's comforting to know that, as an ICT solution provider, they could also handle the application layer if we needed them to."
For Baumeister, the NTT Communications Global IP Network used by NTT Europe brings further benefits. "At the same time as hosting with NTT Europe, we are also using its services for our pan-European network, so I have the convenience of a single supplier for both hosting and telecoms, which makes my job much easier." he explains.
Because the hosting platform is scoped to the needs of the service, and NTT's international backbone is very powerful, traffic congestion is minimised and unexpected traffic peaks can be handled easily. The site's redundant architecture enables transparent switchover to duplicated elements in the event of a failure, to ensure there is no downtime. The platform can also scale to accommodate future growth in user numbers and transaction volumes.
Although its architecture is fully redundant, Boursorama had to consider what would happen if the Paris hosting centre succumbed to a disaster. Because Boursorama.com is a totally online service, its credibility depends on being visible at all times. If the site went down, the impact on both its users and its business would be significant.
The latest development undertaken by Boursorama, therefore, is the establishment of a business continuity and disaster-recovery site hosted by NTT Europe in London. The London site is permanently synchronised with the Paris site, including all dynamic information feeds. If a disaster should cause the Paris site to become completely unavailable, Baumeister and his team can switch over to the London site and have Boursorama.com up and running again in a matter of just a few hours.
Baumeister is reassured by the reliability and reactiveness of NTT Europe, and has been consistently pleased with the service provided. "We have close relationships at all levels, from sales to technical, and we enjoy the consistent level of service that only a global company like NTT can provide." he says. "We are confident that we have the right infrastructure solution in place with NTT Europe, in terms of performance and scalability, to enable us to keep serving our users — both now and into the future.