UPDATED 16:36 EST / JULY 02 2021

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Italy’s stock exchange shares its Postgres success story

It wasn’t long ago that chief information officers from large organizations would ignore any ideas of implementing open-source software — they believed it wasn’t right for their businesses, and using it in sensitive industries like finance, trading or healthcare was entirely out of the question, according to Roberto Giordano (pictured), end-user computing, corporate and database services manager at Borsa Italiana Group, Italy’s only stock market exchange.

But now, this fear based-idea is slowly changing. CIOs are realizing the potential behind open-source solutions. Aside from their innovation possibilities, open-source solutions are safe, scalable and some are even built for regulatory compliance. Plus, open-source software may also be offered via paid “premium” alternatives where they provide the extra support and added capabilities that industries require.

The EDB’s PostgreSQL distribution is a great example of this type of open-source solution. It provides commercial support with the right expertise and guidance to deploy databases in large-scale environments, according to Giordano.

“If you’re a big organization that runs a highly regulated business, you [might be] a little bit afraid of open source because there is this general consideration about the lack of enterprise-level support. I would say that this is just a thing of the past, because there are companies like Postgres EDB that are 100% capable of providing enterprise-level support,” he said. “With the specific distribution, the level of support is going to be even more accurate, but as you know, you could also benefit from the main contributors of the Postgres Community.” 

Giordano spoke with Dave Vellante, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during Postgres Vision 2021. They discussed open source, Postgres EDB, and the migration of its services. (* Disclosure below.)

The new age of fast and reliable trades

To be successful within the trading industry, there are two critical considerations to keep in mind: speed and reliability. For instance, modern trading firms could have massive and varied structured (or unstructured) data coming in at a high speed and in need of verification and storage. To transact such massive numbers of orders at extremely fast speeds, modern High-Frequency Trading firms would often use high-throughput software, co-location services, and even individual data feeds to be able to compete at the millisecond level and win. 

But not all technology solutions, especially traditional database systems can help shave off those milliseconds while still maintain a high level of reliability. Datastores need to be able to handle high-speed incoming data and return trading orders after checking algorithmic results in order to deal with orders reliably, according to Giordano.

“As an IT professional running market infrastructure is our first goal to provide an infrastructure that is reliable and with the lowest possible latency. So we are very focused on performance and reliability just to mention the two main drivers within our systems,” he said.

How to choose a database platform for a stock exchange

As Italy’s only stock exchange, Borsa Italiana provides market infrastructure across Europe and the rest of the world, so for the organization, choosing the right technology is crucial. Giordano decided to adopt Postgres EDB as one of its key database platforms. 

“We are a multi-vendor shop. So we would need to pick the right technology for the right service. This means that my database services teams currently manages several different technologies where Postgres plays a big role in our portfolio,” Giordano explained. 

Borsa Italiana supports both the open-source version of Postgres and the EDB distribution. They have been running the open-source version of Postgres, but over time, when they needed more business-level support and enterprise features, they upgraded to the Postgres EDB distribution. 

Postgres EDB distribution is the supercharged version of the old-time favorite open-source object-relational database system PostgreSQL. The EDB distribution provides the same reliable technology backed up by the same contributions from the wide PostgreSQL community. In addition, it also provides the extra expertise and support from the PostgreSQL development team that  industries like trading and finance often require.

“What really drove us [to adopt EDB] was the right combination of simplicity, but also good value for the money. So, we like to pick the right database technology for the right kind of service/budget that the service has, and the open-source solution for a specific service is our first choice,” Giordano said.

The right balance between price, support and functionalities

The price for open-source solutions also plays an important decision-making factor for businesses looking for more flexible ways to improve their profitability. When business leaders demand a high level of performance with a low budget, CIOs have to often search through open-source solutions. 

“You know [Borsa’s line of business] just provides requirements in particular in terms of performance and reliability. And, obviously, if we are all in the same position to save a little bit of money, everybody’s happy,” Giordano said. 

Aside from a good investment value and ease of use, Postgres EDB also provides the right features and functionalities that such sensitive industries need.

“In particular, we prefer to use the EDB distribution where we found specific functionalities that just EDB provides. And we [also] needed a first-class level of support that EDB in recent years was able to provide to us,” Giordano added. 

The EDB distribution can provide those key functionalities that trading and finance firms require. For example, support for simultaneous structured and unstructured data within a single environment while keeping up with the required level of data integrity with proper compliance can be key for trading.

Maintaining a high level of availability, reliability and control

Another example of requirements within the trading industry is maintaining a high level of availability and reliability.

A popular failover technique known as hardware clustering (or operating systems clustering) ensures that applications run (or failover) on the primary cluster node and that applications dependent on a local file system, such as a database, also failover the cluster’s primary node.

“Historically, [Borsa Italiana] used to rely on OS clustering from the [failover] perspective. But over the years, we found that even if [OS clustering] works fine, we were facing some challenges internally, because within my team we don’t own the operative system layers. So we wanted a solution that was 100% within our control and perimeter,” Giordano explained.

Large-scale PostgreSQL deployments would often require advanced cluster management. And this is exactly what Postgres EDB solves, meeting the strict requirements of trading firms by providing multiple failovers and replication solutions while providing control.

“We recently migrated our wire intra-site availability solution using the EDB Failover Manager, which is an additional component that just EDB provided,” Giordano said.

To reduce the business impact in case of failure, the EFM provides full management of the high availability for PostgreSQL and EDB Postgres advanced clusters. Having more control is one of the key drivers for companies providing critical services like Borsa Italiana for choosing EFM.

“In case of a failure, the database services team is able to provide a solution that is 100% within our perimeter. So this means that we are fully accountable for it. So, in a nutshell, when you run a service, the less people, the less teams you have to involve, the more control you can deliver,” Giordano concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Postgres Vision 2021. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Postgres Vision event. Neither EnterpriseDB Corp., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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