Supporting business requirements
Tadawul's technology strategy is closely intertwined with its business strategies. All our IT initiatives are linked to our organizational pillars and initiatives. Our technology roadmap is periodically reviewed to ensure this alignment and to take into account changing business needs.
During the year under review, despite the obstacles which arose from the COVID-19 pandemic we were able to deliver all the planned initiatives and milestones. All required changes, improvements, technical support and implementation relating to the Exchange's mega initiatives and milestones were in place on time to meet schedules. Parallel runs of a large number of mega projects such as Tadawul New Data Center, Network Infrastructure Upgrade, Post-trade Technology Project (PTTP), and Derivatives Market Launch were executed in the face of constraints. This was accomplished while keeping the daily routine market functions performing without interruption. In addition, the IT Division had to fulfil an unforeseen requirement; that of providing new solutions to handle the needs for remote working that arose due to the pandemic. The technical infrastructure had also to be upgraded to handle the additional load of the remote connection. Despite the pandemic and minimum on-site staff, target system availability was achieved.
Among the business requirements that were completed are Derivatives Project; Post-trade Programme; Tadawul New Data Center; Derivatives Market Launch; enhancement of Tadawul and IFSAH website to support the ETF market. The launching of the Derivative Market, required integration with the following systems and services:
- Changes on the following systems: IFSAH, Tadawul Website, Mobile Apps, Tadawulaty and ERP to support the new Market
- Development for the billing and reports at ERP system
- Derivatives market report at RDB (Reporting system).
Projects and initiatives
A large number of technical initiatives had to be accomplished to support the business requirements. The Operations and IT Division has recorded an impressive performance in keeping projects on track. Of the total of 10 projects that were initiated in 2020, a project progress rate of 98% has been notched; eight projects have been successfully completed, while two are still in progress.
In addition, the Division has contributed and completed the following projects and initiatives:
- IT Network Infrastructure Upgrade - Phase 3
- Brokers' Surveillance Solutions
- Increasing Storage Capacity
- IFSAH Enhancement
- Test Automation Robot Framework
- Enable Data Management Layer
- Authorized Persons Surveillance Solution
- Tadawul New Data Center
The following are still in progress:
- Database Hardware Replacement
(in progress - 89% complete)
- Private Cloud Servers Hardware Refresh
(in progress - 94% complete)
Dealing with the pandemic
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic swift responses were required from the Division to facilitate working in the changed conditions. VPN and necessary hardware were provided to facilitate remote working. Video meeting and work stream collaboration solutions were introduced. Easy remote access
had to be facilitated for all production systems and minimum number of on-site employees to maintain efficient operations had to be ascertained.
The New Data Center (DC) has been launched and is operational. The project closure has been approved and is now completed. With the completion of the project, Tadawul has been able to migrate its backup site to the new DC (Tier IV) which will become our primary DC. The new DC will enable Tadawul to offer collocation hosting services which will be a revenue service.
Providing timely and accurate market information is vital for the development of an efficient stock exchange. The following services have been developed to improve market information and data analytics.
- With the introduction of the Sukuk Index a new release was developed and launched to display the required changes on Tadawul Website and Tadawul Mobile Apps
- IFSAH and Tadawul Website systems were enhanced to support the ETF Market
- Requirements on REITs disclosure were enhanced to provide more information to investors
- Automated process of reporting the companies Share buy-back details for each quarter has been developed and is accessible on IFSAH and Website
- The Debt Market presentation in Tadawul Website was enhanced
- IFSAH and Tadawul Website systems were enhanced to support the Mutual Funds Market in keeping with updated CMA regulations.
The enhancements to the infrastructure, in hardware and software that have been implemented over the past few years have been fruitful in terms of improving the performance and reliability. The impact has spanned several areas including storage and backup, network and network security; it has also increased the capacity of the DC. The performance and processing time has improved several fold. Core systems have recorded 100% availability, while non-core systems recorded 99.99%.
Security, efficiency, and governance
Many improvements have also been recorded in IT security and governance. The annual surveillance ISO 20000-1:2011 and ISO 9001 certifications have been successfully completed. In addition, we have conducted continuous reviews and enhancements for all IT and operations policies and processes to ensure the alignment with international ISO standards. Several enhancements to security systems also ensured compliance with cybersecurity policies and National Cybersecurity Authority Regulations (NCA). All audit findings by internal audit have been addressed in acceptable time frames. Cybersecurity Penetration Testing and Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment have been completed satisfactorily. Failover exercises were also conducted with members and data vendors.
The road ahead
Over the next two to three years we intend to continue executing the planned initiatives. While doing so, we will remain open to new opportunities for developing products and services. The PTTP has a number of phases remaining and is anticipated to continue for several years. Other projects of which the execution will continue include Database Hardware Replacement Project, Private Cloud Hardware Refresh Project, ERP Enhancement Project, Trading X-stream Servers Hardware Upgrade, and launching of hosting service. We will continue to liaise closely with other divisions in developing our product and service portfolio as well as striving to improve and operational efficiency and reduce operating costs.