November 4, 2008

Packet Design’s Route Explorer Helps optionsXpress Keep Network Running Around the Clock

Chicago-based online retail brokerage optionsXpress has deployed Packet Design's Route Explorer network management solution to help ensure that the IP network supporting its trading platform meets its 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week uptime requirement.

optionsXpress installed Route Explorer in June to monitor its network, which runs the Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) routing protocol and spans multiple geographically-dispersed data centers across the country. Route Explorer uses a technology known as route analytics to let the company's IT staff look at otherwise hidden aspects of OSPF behavior - undetectable by conventional SNMP-based management tools - and understand its impact on network redundancy, failovers, load balancing and other performance factors.

Benjamin Stein, executive vice president of technology at optionsXpress, said, "Our network can't tolerate failures - it has to be up and absolutely reliable during market hours, Sunday night through Friday night. We know how to design and deploy a fully redundant network, but, given the 24-by-7 nature of our business, we wanted a way to verify that the design would work without actually putting it to the test by failing devices. Route Explorer lets us test what-if scenarios on our as-running network by simulating link or router failures to show whether redundancy is correctly configured."

Route Explorer is also playing a key role in the in-progress conversion of optionsXpress's main data center in Chicago from manually-configured static routing to dynamic OSPF routing (already in place in the company's other data centers).

"With Route Explorer we can simulate the upgrade before actually doing it," Stein said. "We can go in and create the new devices that will be there and see whether they're advertising the right networks and whether traffic is actually moving the way it should. That helps to avoid potential problems when the network goes live."

Stein said his engineering team was able to install Route Explorer without help from Packet Design, and began monitoring the entire OSPF network in little more than an hour.

About optionsXpress

optionsXpress Holdings, Inc., a pioneer in equity options and futures trading, offers an innovative suite of online brokerage services for investor education, strategy evaluation and trade execution. optionsXpress Holdings subsidiaries includes optionsXpress, Inc., a retail online brokerage specializing in options and futures, and brokersXpress, LLC, an online trading and reporting platform for independent investment professionals. Barron's named optionsXpress the number one online broker for four years in a row (2003 to 2006), and Kiplinger's Personal Finance named it the top discount broker in 2006. For more information, visit

About Packet Design, Inc.

Packet Design, Inc., pioneered the field of route analytics and is the leading supplier of network appliances that provide routing-layer visibility into IP networks. The company's products create an accurate layer 3 topology map, analyze routing events, and provide a unique end-to-end, "path-aware" view of network traffic (including MPLS-VPN customer traffic), letting network engineers quickly pinpoint network problems and accurately model changes. Packet Design solutions help manage networks in hundreds of organizations, including many of the world's largest service providers, global enterprises (financial, retail pharmaceutical and other firms), government agencies and educational institutions.

Packet Design was founded in March 2003 by serial entrepreneur and former Cisco Chief Technology Officer Judy Estrin and former Cisco Chief Scientist Van Jacobson. For more information, visit