London Stock Exchange crippled by system outage

On a day that would have seen extremely brisk trading volume due to news in the USA, the LSE was down for nearly the entire trading say. From Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) – The London Stock Exchange (LSE.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) suffered its worst systems failure in eight years on Monday, forcing the world’s third largest share market to suspend trading for about seven hours and infuriating its users.

The problem occurred on what could have been one of London’s busiest trading days of the year, as markets rebounded worldwide following the U.S. government’s decision to bail out mortgage companies Fannie Mae (FNM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

“We have the biggest takeover in the history of the known world … and then we can’t trade. It’s terrible,” one trader said.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which uses the LSE’s trading platform TradElect, also suspended trading.

“This halt today clearly has once again damaged (the LSE’s) reputation as a leading exchange, especially on a day like today, highlighting that it may have been unable to handle the volumes this morning,” added another trader.

But, it wasn’t actually the trading volume that caused the issue:

LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The London Stock Exchange’s (LSE.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) failure on Monday was down to a software fault rather than high trading volume and has now been resolved, the exchange told Reuters on Tuesday. “It was software-related, a coincidence, due to two processes we couldn’t have foreseen,” a spokeswoman said.

“We’ve introduced a fix and we’re confident it will not happen again.”

She said the fault was not due to high trading volume.

What software stack runs the LSE? Windows 2003, .NET and Microsoft SQL Server. You may remember these ads:reliabletimes

Now, I doubt we’ll ever get any real details on what actually happened. There’s some speculation that an errant application upgrade may have been at fault. Five nines is really difficult to achieve though, and it seems to me that most times you see high profile installs like the LSE that go with a 100% Microsoft stack it’s Microsoft marketing and dollars that lead to the decision – not sound technical recommendations. The NYSE may be feeling a bit better about their recent decision to move to Linux.


2 Responses to London Stock Exchange crippled by system outage

  1. uslacker says:

    I’m not sure what your point is here. Obviously all systems have problems. Some run Windows some run open source, some mix it. Google, twitter, netflix all come to mind as recent examples.

    If it is that MS invests in the large system development in order to get publicity then haven’t vendors done that forever? If a company wants to do product placement, isn’t that an issue between the vendor and the user?

    Perhaps your point is that you just loathe MS. If so, let me say this. The Open Source community will mature once they start selling the benefits of the software and processes and stop trying to sell anti-Microsoft vitriol.

    Open source has technical and procedural benefits over closed source products. Continuing to make this a fundamentalist religious argument is tiring.

    Linus gets this point. He’s moved on – the rest of the community should join him.


  2. jeremy says:

    Actually, regular readers of this blog will note that I *don’t* loathe Microsoft and very much echo the sentiment in your comment. That being said, I do find it a little unsettling that major IT investments, some (although not in this particular case) made with my tax dollars and others that are literally a matter of life or death are not made based on technical merit, but on shady backdoor dealings and the desire for people to “not get fired”.

    Thanks for the comment.


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