London Stock Exchange in historic Linux go-live

The London Stock Exchange has issued final confirmation that at 8 a.m. Monday it launched a new matching engine based on Novell SUSE Linux technology, following successful last-step setup procedures on Saturday.

The move has been billed as one of the LSE's most significant technological developments since the increasing prevalence of electronic trading led to the closure of the traditional exchange floor in 1986.

LSE chief executive Xavier Rolet has insisted that the exchange, once a monopoly, will deliver record speed and stable trading in order to fight back against the fast erosion of its dominant marketshare by specialist electronic rivals.

"The London Stock Exchange Group is pleased to confirm that Millennium Exchange is now operational," the LSE said in a statement to clients ahead of the main market trading opening on Monday. "We would like to thank all clients for their support during this migration."

At 8am today, the exchanges main venue went into live trading with the Millennium IT matching engine, which is based in a C++ environment. Weekend work included setting live all gateways from clients to its network and data centres.

The switchover is being closely watched as the new system will replace the existing TradElect platform, based around .Net architecture and upgraded by Accenture in 2007 at a cost of 40 million. The decision to scrap TradElect was made in 2009, after several high profile outages and as rivals beat the LSE on messaging latency.

While the LSE's alternative venue, Turquoise, has already been running Millennium Exchange for four months, the rollout on the main exchange has been delayed several times. The delays came after problems occurred on Turquoise and following testing by main venue clients.

Initially, capacity concerns were raised: even though Millennium Exchange was processing messages at a round trip latency of only 126 microseconds, clients were apparently unsure of its ability to handle the scale of messages on the main market.

After this, in November last year a major incident occurred on Turquoise, forcing the LSE to take the market offline for two hours and bringing a grinding halt to the main venue migration. The exchange said the problem occurred in "suspicious circumstances", and while it later attributed human error as the cause, newspaper reports claimed the LSE was in close discussions with the Cabinet Office over major ongoing attempted attacks on its network.

Observers watching today's Linux-based launch will likely note that such a large change could bring about some teething problems, as with any technology overhaul. But for the LSE and its customers, a system that is stable and can handle the millions of simultaneous messages on its network while running faster than its growing competitors' technology, will be seen as the barometer of success.

The one-day TradElect outage in 2007, which angered clients, is a scenario the LSE will strive to avoid. And as it mulls the idea of placing all major systems onto Linux in a merger with Toronto exchange parent TMX, the success of its data centres and networks is of the utmost importance.

This story, "London Stock Exchange in historic Linux go-live" was originally published by Computerworld UK.

Related:
Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon