CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, with support of a new data storage infrastructure, is ramping up electronic transactions with customers across the region. The Hong Kong-based brokerage and investment banking house, a subsidiary of French giant Credit Lyonnais, said the development followed the completion of a six-month buildup of its storage area network (SAN) based on technologies from EMC. Financial details were not given. 'This new infrastructure enables us to launch new services more effectively,' CLSA chief information officer T. Rajah said. 'In the past, it took us 15 to 16 hours to create a testing environment [for business applications]. Now, this can be done in less than half an hour. With an enhanced testing process, we were able to introduce our electronic services in Japan within three months.' He said EMC delivered the company's SAN with fully automated recovery capabilities. Gabriel Leung, general manager at EMC Hong Kong, said its work with CLSA included consultation, deployment and managing various systems partners and suppliers. A SAN provides a high-speed, special-purpose network that allows an enterprise to interconnect different kinds of data storage devices with various servers on behalf of a larger network of users. 'What we required was more than just a SAN infrastructure,' said Mr Rajah, noting that storage systems specialist EMC delivered a 'continuously available information infrastructure'. CLSA was able to rapidly introduce its electronic transaction business, which grew 50 per cent compared with 5 per cent before the EMC infrastructure was ready. 'Now CLSA has the most electronic clientele in Asia,' he said. The SAN centralised information technology operations from the company's 12 branches worldwide into Hong Kong. It also supports 650 employees and consolidates eight terabytes of data, which include the backup, accounting, human resources, risk management and research databases. The EMC environment included two refrigerator-sized Symmetrix systems, four Connectrix machines and software, including TimeFinder and ControlCenter storage management software. This has allowed CLSA to cope with data storage requirements, which have tripled in the past year as it increased research coverage, boosted its electronics transaction business and followed domestic and global regulatory requirements for extra data protection. Its EMC-based SAN has also equipped CLSA with the ability to handle unforeseen emergencies. 'When Hong Kong was hit by Sars, we were able to allow more than 50 per cent of our staff to work from home,' Mr Rajah said.