Nasdaq prepares to streamline systems

Nasdaq, the world's largest stock market, is to consolidate its systems and networks.

Nasdaq, the world's largest stock market, is consolidating its systems and networks.

Chief information officer Steve Randich said he wanted to eliminate the company's Unisys mainframes and migrate the trading-floor functions that run on those machines to its year-old SuperMontage order display and execution system.

 SuperMontage is based on a combination of fault-tolerant systems made by Hewlett-Packard and Stratus Technologies, plus Dell Computer Windows servers.

New York-based Nasdaq will consolidate 15 market data, stock trading and corporate e-mail networks onto a single IP-based Wan backbone. That project will cost $50m.

Nasdaq uses about 300 Unix servers running a mix of HP's Tru64 and HP-UX operating systems as well as Sun's Solaris. Randich declined to specify how many of those servers he expected to replace with Linux systems, or to say when conversions to the open-source software will take place.

"Going from Unix to Linux tends to be the most compatible and easiest decision," Randich said. "I don't want to bifurcate myself across Linux and Windows Server 2003. But I do think Linux will play a role at Nasdaq in helping us minimise our Unix platforms."

Randich declined to disclose a rollout schedule. Nasdaq's 15 networks are all run by MCI, formerly WorldCom. Randich said the stock market has yet to pick a services provider for the unified Nasdaq Intelligent Network, which will be built around Cisco Systems routers which support the Multiprotocol Label Switching standard.

Despite the heavy investment in networking hardware and software that the new network will require, Randich said he expected to get a rapid return on investment. "It will require some recabling, but more importantly, we're going to be able to take a lot of circuits out of our network and save costs."

Another likely cost saver is a plan to move toward more of an on-demand computing approach that would let Nasdaq add server or storage capacity as needed. Randich said he has been putting pressure on his hardware vendors to support on-demand computing and is seeing "more and more willingness" on their part to do so.

Jamie Gruener, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, said some companies are struggling to create policy-based software that can order additional equipment for users automatically, or turn on unused servers and storage devices when specified capacity thresholds are reached. "We're not there yet and may not be for some time."

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

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