EXTRA: London Stock Exchange: blame Microsoft?

Welcome to a special IT Blogwatch EXTRA: watching bloggers' reactions to yesterday's all-day outage at the London Stock Exchange. Not to mention Reese Witherspoon, as you've never seen her before...

Mike Simons reports:

Microsoft ad
The London Stock Exchange ... suspended trading as dealers reacted to the dramatic economic news that the U.S. government had taken over control of mortgage groups Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, in the biggest financial bailout in world history.
The breakdown occurred just days after the LSE announced plans to improve services as it competes against a range of new entrants in the market. Among the LSE's initiatives is a move to slash the time it takes to complete a trade from six milliseconds to three
Trading was halted at 8:45 a.m. London time. According to Reuters, it was not restored until shortly before close of the trading day, which is 4 p.m. The LSE said the system had been hit by a "connectivity issue" and insisted that the problem did not lie with its flagship TradElect trading platform.

But Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols knows people who know different:

So what happened? Officially, the LSE ... gave the vague explanation, that "It was software-related, a coincidence, due to two processes we couldn't have foreseen," and not caused by high-volume.
I have friends in London and... Well, let me just make the following points about TradElec. First, TradElec runs on ... Windows Server 2003 ... [and] a custom set of C# and .NET programs, which was created by Microsoft and Accenture ... on Microsoft SQL Server 2000. The goal was to maintain sub-ten millisecond response times.
The programmers and serious database administrators in the audience can already see where this is going. Sorry, Microsoft, .NET Framework is simply incapable of performing this kind of work, and SQL Server 2000, or any version of SQL Server really, can't possibly handle the world's number three stock exchange's transaction load on a consistent basis.

I'd been hearing from friends who trade on the LSE for ages about how slow the system could get. Now, I know why.

As confirmed by AreBelongToUs:

The LSE seems to have major problems coping with the order flow traffic whenever there is a major piece of financial news. There have been at least 3 other ****-outs this year where I've spent most of the day looking at their incident status web page.

With PLUS Markets, Chi-X, and the soon to be rolled out Project Turquoise all competing for the LSE's business, I wonder how much longer it will be the preferred execution venue for trading UK equities.

And Tim says the problem wasn't just in London:

Johannesburg went down, as did the ICE in the USA. They, and the LSE, use the SETS platform.

This looks really bad for [the LSE]. Their rivals ... are more reliable and cheaper. It's only inertia that keeps volumes so high on the LSE. A few more incidents like this and they'll become a backwater, used for trade reporting and listing only.

Daniel Kottmair launches Linux schadenfreude missiles:

The incident could prove to be particularly embarrassing for Microsoft who at the end of 2006 launched a huge advertising campaign stating that the London Stock Exchange had chosen Windows over Linux because of reliability issues. An opinion obviously not shared by the New York Stock Exchange who has been using Linux and AIX for over a year without any outage at all.

This is not the first time that the new NET, MS-SQL and Windows server based Infolect system has faltered. In September 2007, the London Stock Exchange was hit by connectivity problems when three Infolect gateways couldn't stand the strain.

And Mike Shade recalls:

Microsoft ad.
Sometime last year, Microsoft released an ad campaign with fake newspaper headlines from a periodical called the “The Highly Reliable Times”. With today’s news about the London Stock Exchange having a 7 hour outage I had to think back and laugh.

Last word goes to R2.0, who quips:

Looks like someone needs to brush up on their buzzwords, specifically "mission critical" and "services no longer required".

And finally...

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 22 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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