We’re hiring! DevOps Engineer

We‘re looking for a hands-on DevOps Engineer who will lead the way for automation, continuous integration (CI), development and management of our SaaS environment. The ideal engineer will bring their experiences, best practices, and a collaborative attitude to help establish and drive our DevOps processes and initiatives.

Responsibilities

  • Contribute to the definition and realisation of a container-based system architecture
  • Define and develop a deployment automation strategy
  • Collaborate with the development and product management teams to improve automation of workflows, infrastructure, code testing and deployment across our test and production environments
  • Support our clients with technical requirements for deployment and monitoring of our hybrid and on-site components
  • Help increase system performance with a focus on high availability and scalability
  • Create tools to empower developers and testers and to industrialise development, staging and production infrastructures
  • Document processes and procedures for transparency, resiliency and improved operations

 

What we’re looking for

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science or similar field
  • 1-3 years professional experience in a DevOps role in a software development firm
  • Experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS), in particular EKS, ECS, Fargate, EC2
  • Demonstrable experience of architecting and deployment of at least one microservices-based .Net solution to Docker / Kubernetes, ideally a migration from a monolith. Container configuration, provisioning, orchestration and clustering
  • Experience with scripting (Windows / PowerShell), deployment automation and application monitoring
  • Experience with TeamCity, Gitlab and CI/CD processes
  • Strong knowledge of container networking concepts
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills

 

What we offer

  • A flexible and challenging work environment
  • Training and personal development framework
  • Private medical insurance

 

We’d love to hear from you, send us an email at hireme@xpansionfts.com or reach out through our contact form

Xprocess: Real-time business monitoring for data-driven decision making

 

This month we would like to shift your attention to Xprocess – our fully managed, adaptive business process monitoring platform. If you are looking to increase business resilience and transparency, then Xprocess is the perfect solution for you. It offers real-time visibility on business processes, by modelling and monitoring them proactively.

With Xprocess you can achieve the following:

  • Create your own metrics and define key performance indicators
  • Set up proactive alerts on real-time issues
  • Create custom dashboards and comprehensive reporting views
  • Leverage root cause resolution to implement permanent solutions
  • View historical data to identify trends and patterns
  • Maximize efficiency and minimize downtime
  • Integrate the platform with third party applications

In this multi-part series, we will discuss each of the above points.

Part I : Create your own metrics and define key performance indicators

XMon allows you to define various types of metrics to track the status of your business processes. Some of these metrics can be used as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help you quantify the level of attainment of your business objectives and targets.

One of our recent enhancements enables you to send monitoring metrics directly from Xmon to Xprocess. This way, you can obtain an unparalleled view of these metrics allowing you to monitor the flow of requests and data.

Xprocess supports both Static and Historical metrics, with the latter allowing you to record a time series of the measurable value. A metric can have a number of attributes associated with it to define its characteristics or features. These attributes can be of different types or formats and can be optional or mandatory.

Metric definition and custom attributes window

 

Metrics can be sent to Xprocess from an Xmon agent or from any third-party program. The Xmon agent has a configurable engine that can interface to a variety of data sources such as files (xml, log, csv, etc.), databases (MS SQL, Oracle, etc.) and processes. Regardless of where the metrics come from, they are sent to Xprocess via the REST API.

Once metrics start flowing into Xprocess, they become available for a multitude of uses such as viewing timelines, building visualisations, or creating rules and alerts. For instance, an external process can send a Heartbeat metric to Xprocess every minute. Another example is a metric set up to receive and monitor the valuation of an asset manager’s portfolio, as shown below.

 

Metric table, showing collected metric values

 

Metric value graph, showing values over time

 

Stay tuned to read our subsequent articles about the other features and functionalities of Xprocess. Our next article will explain how rules and alerts can be defined for metrics to help you monitor your processes proactively and resolve anomalies in a timely fashion. In the meantime, if you’d like to enquire about Xprocess please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Three ways to use Xpansion’s REST API functions to improve your workflows

REST APIs are a modern application programming interface used for web service based integrations. REST APIs have become a standard in the industry for system integrations as a scalable, reliable and standardized way to programmatically access functionality and data.

Our suite of products, Xmon, Xprocess and the new Xcatalogue are API-first applications. They are built on top of a solid REST API foundation to allow for better development, testing and integration within our products. We make certain endpoints available to our clients so they can benefit from, amongst others, the following:

  1. Automated report generation and data extractions, which allow instant data extractions into third party platforms, such as Tableau or Power BI. By leveraging the tools already at your disposal and powerful analytics available in Xmon for example, you will have the ability to create reports on the fly, tailored to your needs and centralized within your own reporting frameworks and tools.
  2. Integration of Xmon analytics into proprietary or in-house developed systems. One perfect example is simulating the cost of a data request, making it easier and quicker to oversee budget spend, directly from internal applications. This will allow users to have direct access to analytics that go hand in hand with your existing data, all within the same environment.
  3. More advanced, hybrid types of integration where on site agents are deployed and communicate with the Xpansion SaaS backend. In this type of deployment, you will get to monitor requests and data calls made between internal applications which would otherwise not be possible. This type of integration is also suitable when using private leased lines. Advanced integrations using the REST API also allow for automated provisioning of rules, consumers and data sources for a fully automated DataOps workflow using our suite of products.

All endpoints are available over secure HTTPS transport with advanced permissioned access, whitelabelled access and full audit trail for traceability and accountability.

If you’d like to know more about our REST API integration and possibilities, do reach out, we’d love to hear from you! To speak to one of our experts, click here.

Xpansion has a fresh new look!

We are happy to announce the recent launch of our new and improved website designed with our client’s needs in mind.

It is full of features for a more interactive and comprehensive dive into the world of Xpansion, with a detailed description of our product suite – Xmon, Xprocess and Xcatalogue – as well as our partners. Have a look for yourself here

We’d love to hear what you think, request a demo if you’re interested in joining our rapidly growing client base!

Existing clients will also have noticed the new user interface in line with Xpansion website theme on our website, as part of our latest software release.

Your Xpansion team

Announcing the XMon DataOps Module

In June 2019, we wrote about the three pillars for establishing a Data Operations function to provide access to data in a transparent, controlled and reportable way.

XMon supports Data Operations teams and enables access to data at scale, without losing the grip on usage compliance and spend. The latest XMon release includes a dedicated DataOps module to allow for the management, granular attribution, simulation and reconciliation of data usage.

Viewing and tagging requests

Understanding which consumers are requesting data and for what purpose is a basic principle for data usage transparency. This being said, it is not an easy principle to implement. With the XMon request tagging functionality, Data Administrators can extract all data requests (both internal and external) and assign metadata attributes to these requests, manually or through automated tagging rules. This allows a granular attribution of the data request to a specific consumer (e.g. Back Office Team), a specific business process (e.g. Risk Report) or any other custom defined attribute. Tags are then used by the XMon Data Analytics engine to provide in-depth analytics and a level of detail for usage reports that is not possible to achieve with traditional methods.

Data Attribute and Security Lookup

With the XMon DataOps Attribute and Security Lookup feature, Data Administrators can lookup any security reference or data attribute (field) used within the organization. This can then be tied back to a specific consumer or business line. Operational tasks like usage reporting and pruning of expired or unnecessary securities and attributes becomes much easier, much more efficient and more transparent.

Cost simulations and compliance checks

One of the tasks of a DataOps team is to ensure that any changes to data requests do not incur unexpected cost spikes and that data requests are compliant to internal and external usage agreements. With the XMon DataOps cost simulation functionality, Data Administrators can obtain the cost of a data request by simply uploading through the XMon DataOps interface. In addition to obtaining relevant cost information, XMon will validate the request against a set of compliance and data access rules to ensure it doesn’t breach any terms.

Reconciling invoices and reporting

The XMon Invoice Reconciliation feature allows Data Administrators to validate vendor invoices by independently re-calculating and re-building data invoices. This important step provides third-party validation of invoice amounts and ensures all parties have a clear understanding of the way invoices are calculated and how data is charged.

Much more…

The XMon DataOps module centralizes data operations, increasing efficiency, ensuring compliance and reducing spend. Contact us for more information about the features available or how we can help your organization take control over reference data.

 

Feature highlight: Using XMon to track reference data calls from Microsoft Excel workbooks

Microsoft Excel is used extensively by all users in an organization. In the context of reference data, users can create spreadsheets containing data vendor formulas (e.g. Bloomberg Reference Data or Refinitiv) to download reference data and use it for custom reports, analysis and bespoke calculations.

Although extremely useful from a user perspective, downloading reference data in Excel has two pitfalls that can challenge the most hardened DataOps teams.
First, reference data is subject to usage compliance terms and controlling how data is used once it is in a spreadsheet is notoriously difficult.

Second, reference data has associated costs and providing ubiquitous access to reference data directly from a spreadsheet can cause cost spikes and uncontrolled increases in spend.

XMon addresses these challenges and helps organizations take control of reference data usage in Excel workbooks

How XMon can help

In early June, we released a new XMon feature to help organizations better manage reference data access in Excel, namely by:

  1. Automatically detecting Excel workbooks that contain reference data access formulas
  2. Allowing DataOperations teams to track which securities and associated fields are being pulled in Excel
  3. Allowing DataOperations teams to create cost and compliance rules to be notified in real-time if an Excel workbook breaches cost or compliance terms

What this looks like in XMon

DataOps analysts can upload a given workbook to XMon directly or use the XMon tracker agent to detect workbooks with vendor reference data calls. In both cases, XMon will inventory the workbooks found and list them for access. The screenshot below shows what this looks like:

Clicking on the icon displays the workbook factsheet and associated reference data cost, list of fields and list securities detected:

Using the XMon rules engine, data administrators can create compliance rules so they can be immediately notified in case of non-compliance or in case of expensive requests.

Audit and compliance reports

Reporting on reference data usage is notoriously difficult and coupling this with the requirement to understand which users are retrieving data in Excel workbooks can put a heavy load on DataOps teams trying to ensure compliance and keeping costs in check. With XMon, generating evidence backed usage reports becomes much easier, providing data analysts with the tools necessary to track costs and compliance in real-time and generating accurate and timely usage reports.

 

Reach out for more information about how XMon can help your organization understand, control and derive insights from your reference data usage.

 

XMon Data Analytics meets Covid-19 data

 XMon is known for its ability to track reference data calls and provide in-depth analytics of usage metrics, consumption, cost allocation and spend optimization. Our focus is reference data, but XMon’s core engine is able to process nearly any type of data.

To put this into perspective, we decided to source COVID-19 data and to plug it into XMon. We generated evolution graphs and set up alerts to be proactively notified of the status of the pandemic and of its development globally and per country.

We also had a brief look into whether Covid-19 had any significant impact on reference data consumption across our customer base.

Here’s what we did.

Data Sourcing

First, it was important to find a reliable source for Covid-19 data that we could connect XMon to. We decided to source ours from the Covid-19 free API, available here:

https://covid19api.com/

The API is easy to integrate with and provides historical data in JSON format, sourced from the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Designing the XMon Metric

Once the data source was decided on, we configured an XMon metric with sufficient attributes to enable us to run reports and process automated alerts. We were interested in recorded the following attributes:

  • Timestamp of data
  • Country
  • Number of new cases (daily and cumulative)
  • Number of recovered cases (daily and cumulative)
  • Number of deaths (daily and cumulative)

Once set up in the system, the XMon metric looked like this:

Defining a metric in XMon, with different attributes to store Covid-19 data

Data Collection

The XMon data collection agent was configured to obtain data historically, starting March 1, 2020 and automatically on a daily basis after the historical upload was completed.

Once enabled, data started flowing into the XMon dashboards and in a matter of minutes was available in the monitoring dashboards, the graph below shows the number daily confirmed cases for the UK since March 1, 2020:

Covid-19 data collected in XMon, displayed in table a graph view, graph showing UK daily confirmed cases

The daily deaths in the United Kingdom shows a spike on the 29th of April, which corresponds to the UK government’s addition of deaths in care homes:

Number of Covid-19 deaths in the United Kingdom, showing spike of reported cases on April 29 due to addition of cases in care homes

Automated Notifications and Alerts

While data was being collected, we configured automatic analysis rules to detect and proactively notify then team when a fall in the number of daily new cases over a 3 consecutive day period was detected, per country. The screenshot below shows how the rule was defined in XMon for Australia:

Rule definition, used to trigger an alert when the number of Covid-19 cases drops over a 3-day period. This rule will generate an alert for Australia.

Displayed in a colour coded dashboard, we notice that all countries we were monitoring still had an increase in the number of cases over three consecutive days in the observed week (27th April 2020 – 03rd May 2020):

XMon rules dashboard, shows a color coded status of the epidemic per country

The XMon Analytics engine continues to process and analyse data and generate automated alerts when the number of Covid-19 cases decreases over a three day period per country.

Analytics

Once historical data acquisition was completed, we ran historical trend analysis graphs, which showed the evolution of the daily deaths attributed to Covid-19 for selected countries of interest as well as the 7-day moving average:

Daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK with 7 day moving average
Daily Covid-19 deaths in Italy with 7 day moving average
Daily Covid-19 deaths in Sweden with 7 day moving average
Daily Covid-19 deaths in the USA with 7 day moving average

Split by region, we obtain the graph below, showing the number of daily deaths across South America, Oceania, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa:

Number of daily deaths by region

Did Covid-19 affect reference data request volumes?

An interesting question was to see whether there was a noticeable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on reference data consumption across our client base. We ran a simple scenario to determine whether data volumes had been impacted since March 1, 2020 and compared it to the same period last year. Stripping out variations due to active XMon cost optimisations as well effects of significant business changes, we notice that there was nearly no difference in data requests over the periods of interest, if anything things may be on a lower trend:

Closing remarks

XMon provides powerful data ingestion and processing engines that are used to process vast amounts of requests for reference data across our clients. The XMon engine can, and has also been used to track other types of data, for example internal data requests flowing within the organization, or, as this article has briefly shown, scientific data related to the global pandemic we are all witnessing at the moment.

Reach out for more information about the provided analytics, graphs or alerts, or to see how the XMon team can help make sense of your data, whether it’s reference data or otherwise.

Please stay safe!

Smart Sourcing and Smart Usage

In this whitepaper, authored by Asset Control and XPansion, we discuss optimizing data usage and data management.

Topics Covered:

  • A fast-changing market data landscape
  • Data Management: The Commercial Perspective
  • Data Management: The Business User Perspective
  • Data Management: The Regulatory Perspective
  • Best Practices in Data Sourcing
  • Best Practices in Data Management and Data Governance
  • Introducing XMon from XPansion
  • Introducing Ops360 from Asset Control

 

Download the whitepaper

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Derive monthly insights using XMon automated reports

Why monthly invoices are not enough

Invoices received from vendors on a monthly basis provide an a summary of the month’s spend and costs but are limited to current month’s spend. If you’re looking to get a better understanding, control and governance over data usage, you’ll need more analytics, especially relative indicators to quickly compare against last month’s usage and identify sources of usage spikes.

Three metrics to look for in a monthly reference data analytics report:

  1. Data consumer allocation for the current period, in comparison to last month: this helps determine whether specific consumers have changed their data consumption behavior during the current period.
  2. Data category allocation: this allows data operations teams to understand whether new data categories have been requested during the current month that have not been used before.
  3. Asset class allocation: this helps data teams manage understand whether any new asset classes have been accessed during the period and any asset classes that have no longer been used.

Simplifying access to data analytics

Over the last few weeks our BA team has been working on simplifying customer access to monthly analytics and have built automated, simple to understand reports that provide usage insights, showcasing the above three metrics in a synthesized and easy to access format. These reports are sent automatically by XMon, straight to your team’s inbox.

The XMon Monthly Review report is sent automatically at every end of month and graphically displays usage trends, relative indicators and allocation by consumer, data category and asset class for a comprehensive review of data usage as well as a clear comparison with last months utilisation. The screenshot below shows a comparison data category consumption:

Monthly Data Category Access, relative to the previous period

The above example indicates a nearly 50% increase in Historical data spend, while Pricing usage has declined slightly. Data category classification, coupled with other metrics, such as consumer and asset class allocation also available in the report, allow your data operations teams to better understand usage and derive actionable insights based on your firm’s usage patterns.

DataOps as a service and tailored recommendations

Using the monthly report, you’ll be able to trigger more detailed business intelligence extracts from XMon to drive usage optimisations. For example, to understand how a data category’s trends have evolved over the period, simply generate the field analysis report (STD12) and obtain a deeper understanding of the underlying reasons for increasing trends, in minutes. Using the field analysis report you’ll also be able to identify the actions that can be put in place to mitigate the increased utilisation.

If you’re a client subscribed to the XMon DataOperations as a service, you will get the added benefit of a more detailed analysis, run by our team of experts, and monthly tailored recommendations to optimise your spend.

Contact us for more information about our dataOps as a service or for more details about how your firm could benefit from better data usage analytics.

Xignite to Integrate XPansion Analytics and Reporting Tools into Market Data Management Cloud Platform

We look forward to working with the team at Xignite and extending realtime reference data usage analytics to their next-generation Market Data Cloud Platform. Full press release below:

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today announced a strategic partnership with XPansion, a provider of market data usage, tracking and business monitoring software. Xignite will integrate XPansion’s XMon analytics and reporting functionality into their Market Data Cloud Platform to provide capital markets clients even more transparency of their licensed market data usage and costs, allowing them to manage consumption, allocate costs and avoid vendor compliance risk.  

Hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud, the Xignite Market Data Cloud Platform is a market data management solution that enables optimization of market data distributed across an enterprise, providing clients with tools to control, entitle and track data consumption across businesses. The solution is the industry’s only cloud-based market data management and optimization platform that can manage data flow across the latency spectrum, including real-time, end-of-day, reference and historical data. 

Adding XMon functionality will provide clients with enhanced business intelligence, analytics and reporting capabilities. XMon’s dynamic dashboards and reporting tools empower business users to interrogate data usage, control and allocate costs across data vendors. By optimizing vendor data requests and streamlining data access across businesses, clients could see a significant reduction in overall market data spend within the first year. 

“Empowering our clients with the tools to understand how they are consuming data and providing them with technology to establish transparency and control spend in real-time has been our focus from the beginning,” said Amjad Zoghbi, Director and co-founder of XPansion. “Clients consume increasing amounts of data and coupling powerful analytics with a robust data distribution platform is essential in today’s data landscape. We are very excited to be partnering with Xignite and extending XMon’s analytics and controls to their next-generation Market Data Cloud Platform”

“Market data is a complex environment where vendor fees and commercial licensing models continue to change, putting pressure on buy and sell side firms to control access and costs.” said Stephane Dubois, CEO and Founder, Xignite. “Providing clients with a solution to regain control of market data flow and consumption is core to our mission of simplifying the acquisition, management and dissemination of market data. We are delighted to partner with XPansion, combining their superior analytics with the proven data management capabilities of our Market Data Cloud Platform is a win for clients.”

About Xignite

Xignite Makes Market Data Easy. Xignite is leading the disruption of the market data industry with its AWS-based financial data distribution and market data management solutions. Xignite’s Market Data Cloud Platform provides market data managers full transparency on the usage of a firm’s first-level real-time and reference data – making it easy for data owners to entitle, control consumption, comply with licensing requirements, allocate costs, and resolve vendor audits or invoice discrepancies. Xignite also powers financial data-driven robo-advisors, online brokerages, and investing apps with its real-time, delayed and historical pricing data offered via 500+ REST Cloud APIs. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

About XPansion FTS

XPansion is a technology firm delivering enterprise, cloud-based solutions that empower data operations and data management teams to better understand and control data usage and improve data governance. XMon Static Data, our leading solution for reference data usage tracking and control, allows clients to understand data usage and costs, enforce data access controls and optimize reference data spend. XMon Business Process is our solution for internal data lineage and monitoring internal data usage. Our cloud-based solutions can be used alone or combined for powerful and comprehensive data usage and control functionality. Visit https://www.xpansionfts.com for more information.