NYSE Places Buy on Linux, Hold on Unix

The New York Stock Exchange is investing heavily in x86-based Linux servers as it continues to build out the hardware architecture for its NYSE Hybrid Market trading system, which it launched last year.

Lowering IT costs is one of the goals of the Linux push, said Steve Rubinow, CIO at NYSE Euro­next, the holding company created by the merger of NYSE Group Inc. and Euro­next NV. But increased flexibility and technology independence are also priorities. What we want is to be able to take advantage of technology advances when they happen, Rubinow said.

The Hybrid Market system lets traders buy and sell stocks electronically or on the NYSEs trading floor. To help power the trading system, the exchange has installed about 200 of Hewlett-Packard Co.s four- processor Pro­Liant servers, plus 400 HP server blades. All of the DL585 servers run Linux and are based on dual-core Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Steve Rubinow

Steve Rubinow In addition, the NYSE is using HPs Integrity NonStop servers, which are based on Intel Itanium processors and run the fault-tolerant NonStop OS.

The NYSEs shift toward Linux and x86-based hardware illustrates why consulting firm Gartner Inc. is predicting a slight decline in Unix server revenues over the next five years, compared with strong sales growth for both Windows and Linux servers.

Rubinow chose not to use HP-UX, HPs version of Unix. We dont want to be closely aligned with proprietary Unix, he said. No offense to HP-UX, but we feel the same way about [IBMs] AIX and, to some extent, about Solaris.

The NYSE still uses numerous Unix systems, many running Solaris, Sun Microsystems Inc.s Unix derivative. Rubinow acknowledged that Solaris works on multiple hardware platforms, including x86-based systems. But he added that Linux affords us a lot of flexibility.

One technology that the NYSE isnt adopting so eagerly is server virtualization. In a system that processes hundreds of thousands of transactions per second, virtualization produces a noticeable overhead, Rubinow said.

Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Inc. in Hayward, Calif., said system latency is one of the reasons why even the staunchest advocates of x86 virtualization recommend extensive testing of virtual servers.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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