Reducing Data Center Complexity and Powering New Investment Products with HPE Alletra dHCI

HPE Storage

It’s a tale as old as the data center: As companies task IT teams with increasingly involved projects, they have less time to manage their IT infrastructure. Everyone has to solve the problem of how to simplify that management while simultaneously reducing time and costs.

That problem becomes even more complicated when you’re a global corporation like UOB Kay Hian, one of Asia’s largest brokerage firms.

With more than 100 years of history, UOB Kay Hian is headquartered in Singapore and backed by the UOB Group. We have 80 branches worldwide and a growing network of offices in Southeast Asia, Greater China, the United Kingdom, and North America. Our mission is to deliver incisive intelligence across industry sectors and asset classes to prestigious clients, including institutional and enterprise clients, high-net-worth individuals, and retail investors.

Everyone has to solve the problem of how to simplify that management while simultaneously reducing time and costs.

Our award-winning financial analysts and research team provide investors with deep market knowledge and insights to navigate complex trading environments. Our IT team supplies the tools and technologies that empower our teams and allow our customers to trade across a broad range of securities. We are committed to serving our clients and the financial community with excellence and integrity. 

Supporting Award-Winning Financial Teams

As UOB Kay Hian’s head of Group Information Technology Operations (Group IT Ops), I oversee this team of eight specialists that maintains our legacy equities platform and provides new infrastructure for OTC securities and other financial products. We work closely with UOB Kay Hian’s project management and sales teams, who are constantly looking for new technologies they can leverage to provide cutting-edge investment vehicles to our clients. After an initial evaluation and approval process, we deploy these solutions on our servers, and we are constantly adding infrastructure to accommodate new investment products and platforms.


We also schedule and troubleshoot batch runs on every server. This is time-consuming and complex work because we need to understand every monitored process to determine which might have caused a job to fail. At one point, we were also managing and maintaining 75 racks of physical servers at our data center, stretching ourselves to the limit to accommodate new solution requests while maintaining so much hardware.

It’s a lot of work for our tiny team. We needed to streamline our day-to-day operations and maintenance activities to better serve our project management and sales teams. 

Investigating Virtualization

I first investigated virtualization in 2017. My initial idea was for my team to deploy virtual machines to replace bare metal servers. However, we were overloaded with a number of high-priority projects from our sales and marketing colleagues. UOB Kay Hian continuously launches new products, and we were busy implementing the needed hardware and software systems to support those activities.

We suffered another delay during the pandemic. We continued our efforts with a limited workforce, and the situation remained unchanged. When we returned to the office, it was clear we needed to work with our partners and vendors to jumpstart our virtualization efforts. I didn’t want to wait for another unexpected event to halt our progress.


To get the ball rolling, we talked to our partner, UIC Asian Computer Services, a subsidiary of the UOB group that handles our IT procurement and support. We supply a series of specs and process flows, and they architect, deploy, and support our solutions. Together, we considered several vendors. We looked at one solution, thinking it would reduce our operational costs, but it didn’t meet our technical or budgetary requirements. We even ran a POC with another platform, but the cost spiraled upward, and we couldn’t achieve the scale we needed on our budget. 

A millisecond of lag or downtime can result in millions of dollars in losses.

Then, we talked to HPE, who told us about HPE Alletra dHCI (disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure), an affordable solution that guaranteed 99.9999% availability—less than 32 seconds of downtime a year. Six Nines availability is critical in finance. A millisecond of lag or downtime can result in millions of dollars in losses because a transaction didn’t go through on time. No one else could promise that level of uptime.

Deploying HPE Alletra dHCI With UIC

The price and the technology were right, and UIC promised a seamless deployment, so we went ahead with the project. HPE Alletra dHCI simplifies deploying, managing, and scaling storage and compute. It leverages the power and performance of HPE Alletra Storage and the HPE ProLiant DL380 servers in a simple, streamlined solution. Because of this, it offers high speed and high availability, ensuring peak performance for every application. UIC shone as our deployment partner, taking less than a month to set up our data center when our HPE hardware arrived. 

As a UOB subsidiary, UIC is uniquely positioned to understand our business and how we work. They guided my server team during the deployment. My staff has little experience with virtualization, so we shadowed UIC’s engineers as they worked with HPE Alletra dHCI’s configuration screens and dashboards. We worked side by side to install our new equipment. They showed my staff how to set up a server, and then we did it ourselves. UIC’s encouragement and mentorship gave us the confidence to take over once everything was installed.


Once we set everything up, migration happened very quickly and we completed our migration over five weekends. Instead of racking and cabling equipment, we were adding virtual machines (VMs) with a couple of clicks.

Accelerating and Streamlining Data Center Operations and Management 

Suddenly, the process of maintaining, backing up, and restoring our servers flowed much faster. If a file, drive, or server is corrupted or fails, we can spin up a new VM and partition new storage right away. Leveraging built-in data protection, we can recover a replicated server from an HPE Alletra dHCI backup in less than 20 minutes—15X faster than a five-hour tape restore.

HPE Alletra dHCI allowed us to reduce our data center footprint. Office space is a scarce commodity in Singapore and comes at a premium price. Our current data center occupies 4,000 square feet, which we needed to accommodate 75 racks of physical servers. Using HPE Alletra dHCI technology, we reduced that to 17 racks that also hold all our networking hardware and occupy less than 1,000 square feet. When our lease expires, it will be easier to move our downsized data center, and we’ll save on rental and energy costs. It’s a winning formula.

Our relationship with HPE didn’t end with equipment. We also purchased HPE Education Services training to help my team build their technical skills on virtualization, which was entirely new to us. This training also deepened our knowledge of process flows and how middleware connects front-end and back-end systems, allowing us to better diagnose system-level issues and debug failed batch runs.

Our improved skills will accelerate and streamline infrastructure maintenance and management, giving us more time to deploy new solutions for our sales team and new financial products for UOB Kay Hian’s customers.  Investing in our team members’ skills not only is helping us get the most from our new solution, but it also helps us retain and develop key IT resources.

HPE Alletra dHCI has empowered my team of eight to punch above our weight. We have improved operational efficiency, reduced our data center footprint, and successfully deployed high-availability infrastructure to UOB Kay Hian’s sales and marketing teams. Our partnership with UIC Asian Computer Services ensured a smooth transition to our new dHCI environment, providing my people with the needed guidance to support our systems effortlessly and better respond to the company’s evolving IT needs.