December 14, 2004

NYSE announces new trading system with Linux inside

Author: Joe Barr

The New York Stock Exchange announced its new TradeWorks trading system today, though portions of the system have been in place for months. Described as an "Extreme Availability" system by IBM, it includes up to 3,000 -- 650 are already in use on the floor of the NYSE -- custom made wireless handheld devices used by floor brokers. The handhelds talk to Linux-based workstations, which in turn talk to HP servers, and they speak to IBM Z-series mainframes running a DB2 backend.

The Linux component, the workstations, are running Java in supporting the activity of the floor brokers. According to the announcement, they are "optimized for high-resolution graphics, low power and redundant connectivity."

In a teleconference today, NYSE CTO Roger Burkhardt declined to say what distribution of Linux is being used on the workstations.

He also would not speak to a question about the security of the wireless communications, citing the advice of his "InfoSec" people as the reason for not doing so.

Although not mentioned in the press release, NewsForge was told in the Q&A following the teleconference that the handhelds are running an unspecified light-weight version of Microsoft Windows.

IBM was chosen as the vendor for the task by the Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), which handles computer and communications networks for the NYSE. According to the press release, the NYSE "wanted to ensure the highest reliability possible -- anticipating the unlikely but inevitable hardware software failures and other unpredictable factors such as a sudden spikes in trade activity -- while also aiming for sub-second response times for users of the system."

The system is designed to be able to withstand a "9/11-like attack" and keep on running. The DB2 backend, for example, is mirrored in two physically separate locations and if one of the sites fails for whatever reason, the other has sufficient power to handle the entire workload.

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