The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is considering moving some of its mission-critical systems onto platforms that run on cheaper proprietary hardware, to lower costs and offer new services.
As part of plans revealed last month to put technology at the heart of its business plan over the coming years, the LSE has already built a new real-time data service for its customers that is scheduled to go fully live in June this year.
That new service marks a change in strategy from the LSE's historic reliance on Hewlett Packard's (HP) highly fault-tolerant but costly NonStop servers to Intel Itanium 2-based servers and Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 operating system.
LSE chief information officer David Lester told vnunet.com that the LSE is now assessing whether a similar strategy could be deployed for its more mission-critical systems.
"The next decision is [whether to] migrate our information dissemination systems over to Microsoft. But we are now getting to the more mission-critical stuff and downtime on that is visible," he said.
The London Market Information Link system processes hundreds of messages a second, offering information such as best prices for shares.
The LSE is also currently in the process of migrating around 10 to 12 older Unix and Sun-based batch overload systems handling low-risk operations to the Windows Server 2003 platform.
"It enables us to move to proprietary hardware and makes for a lower total cost of ownership for the platform," he added.
Lester said the pressure on the LSE as a commercial entity is to provide reliable but low-cost services that give it an edge over competitors.
"There is more and more demand for standardised Exchange-based data. But it needs to be always 100 per cent reliable but offer shareholder value," he said.
Further down the line, Lester said, a much tougher decision will be whether to change the platform for the LSE's core electronic trading system SETS.
"We need to start thinking of the SETS trading system itself in about 12 to 18 months," Lester said.
This currently runs on HP's high-performance and highly scalable NonStop servers (formerly Tandem), whose capacity was doubled in 2002 to cope with a 600 per cent growth in orders since 2000.
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