Hardware failure takes down financial futures exchange

The European financial futures and options trading market, Euronext.Liffe lost 400,000 trades on Wednesday (27 August) when a...

The European financial futures and options trading market, Euronext.Liffe lost 400,000 trades on Wednesday (27 August) when a hardware failure caused screens to go blank for three hours in London and Paris.

A spokesman for Liffe told ComputerWeekly.com that a CPU blew in one of the financial trading systems. This posed a threat to the integrity of financial trading and connectivity, which tripped fail-safe mechanisms and completely shut down the operation.

"We isolated and replaced the CPU. We can't guarantee it won't happen again," said a spokesman. "We use Sun 15k processors, which are almost unbreakable. We are most concerned that in future we make our recovery time quicker. We were down for three hours and that is a long time."

Bob McDowell, a director for Bloor Research, criticised the slow response to the hardware failure.

"Given the volatility of the futures market, it's a long time to be down and it won't help their reputation. You should be able to flick a switch and change over to functioning equipment in a couple of minutes," he said.

"It will be interesting to see what steps they will take in the aftermath of this to satisfy the financial regulator of their business continuity arrangements."

Euronext.Liffe was created by  the 2001 merger of the Euronext and Liffe exchanges and its systems are the result of a £20m integration project.

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