NYSE/Euronext powers ahead with Unix-to-Linux migration

By Pam Derringer, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com
10 September 2009
URL: http://searchenterpriselinux.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid39_gci1367868,00.html

CHICAGO — In a keynote at the recent Red Hat Summit, Steve Rubinow, the New York Stock Exchange/Euronext executive vice president and chief technology officer, said processing trillions of transactions every month by itself isn’t hard.

The challenge is doing that while keeping up with customers’ expectations for application response speeds measured in nanoseconds, achieving the goal of 90 seconds of downtime a year, maintaining security against malicious attacks and complying with government regulations.

“Response times increase by an order of magnitude every year or two,” Rubinow said. “You have to make sure that every customer’s order is processed fast enough…because if our response is sluggish, customers can switch easily. So we have to be good all the time. Faster input/output speeds are critical.”

Scalability is another big issue because world events have occasionally spiked trading volumes three or four times above average levels, yet the exchanges cannot afford to waste capacity and virtualization currently has too much latency for trading, he said.

NYSE/Euronext piloted a project to achieve those goals last year. The company is building a trading platform to exchange equities, cash, derivatives, futures and commodities. The platform will service NYSE, Euronext, Europe’s largest cash equities market; Liffe, a European derivatives exchange; and NYSE Arca Options, a U.S. options electronic exchange.

NYSE merged with Euronext, leaving the combined exchange with several different trading platforms. So Rubinow set out to build one platform for multiple products with the ability to trade anything that exists today. The new trading platform was rolled out in Europe and Rubinow said he will be rolling the platform out in the U.S. next year. As part of the process, NYSE/Euronext is building two data centers, one in London and the other in New Jersey.

The foundation for NYSE/Euronext’s universal trading platform is Red Hat Enterprise Linux, to which the exchange began migrating from Sun Solaris several years ago, according to Rubinow. The exchanges also have begun using Red Hat’s JBoss application platform and Rubinow shared they are looking at exploring other Red Hat tools such as AMQP messaging, MRG (Messaging, Real Time and Grid) and Satellite to help the exchanges stay on the leading edge.

“We’re trying to avoid vendor lock-in,” said Rubinow, who noted that NYSE still has some HP-UX servers. “We’ve endorsed the open source community and are trying to use open source where it makes sense because of rapid technology advances and rapid paybacks… but we aren’t married to any technology. We want to be able to switch.”

With rapid growth and massive demand, NYSE/Euronext seems like an ideal candidate for expanding IT into the cloud. But Rubinow said grid computing “doesn’t cut it,” and cloud computing is “an excellent marketing concept.

But it would be tempting to turn it all over to big vendors for the ease of one-stop shopping, he said. “Faced with an appetite for radical change, we are all re-examining our souls,” he concluded.

Sean Millichamp, Lead Geek at Southfield, Mich.-based FTG Technologies, said Rubinow’s latency and uptime challenges were “mind-boggling,” and fascinating to anyone who is a “geek at heart.”

And Connie Sieh, a systems engineer with Batavia, Ill.-based Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, liked Rubinow’s emphasis on keeping everything simple. “If code is simple and generic, that means it’s portable and you can move it in the future.”