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GNU is Not Unix Microsoft Linux

London Stock Exchange Rejects .NET For Open Source 498

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "This summer, the London Stock Exchange decided to move away from its Microsoft .Net-based trading platform, TradElect. Instead, they'll be using the GNU/Linux-based MillenniumIT system. The switch is a pretty savage indictment of the costs of a complex .Net system. The GNU/Linux-based software is also faster, and offers several other major benefits. The details provide some fascinating insights into the world of very high performance — and very expensive — enterprise systems. ... [R]ather than being just any old deal that Microsoft happened to lose, this really is something of a total rout, and in an extremely demanding and high-profile sector. Enterprise wins for GNU/Linux don't come much better than this."
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London Stock Exchange Rejects .NET For Open Source

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  • Re:De Icaza Responds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:33PM (#29662469) Homepage Journal

    Actually from what I have seen .net is a good development environment. Mono has produced some very nice software for the Linux desktop that lots of people use. What I didn't get from this story was just what they where using for the development system?
    I doubt that it is all in c or c++ so maybe they are using mono.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:48PM (#29662685) Homepage Journal
    It could be that the cheaper labor, who can create a good enough product, does not have the resources to acquire a fully licensed MS platform. Instead, they may have grown up with older computers running Linux and open source tools. One can image a motivated student, who has been told that unlicensed software is stealing, and stealing is wrong, might choose to learn cheaper tools. One can also imagine a company, wary of the costs of a MS development solution, and able to hire local developers who are not MS only developers, might choose a cheaper route. The status quo right now is that low cost labor is most likely to know MS solutions, os if one wants a low cost solution, then MS is the way to go. The traditional problem with *nix is that the labor has a reputation of being expensive, arrogant, and difficult to manage. Maybe that is changing now that many kids are playing with low cost solutions, and do not have the experience of being the tyrant in the ivory tower.
  • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:52PM (#29662745) Journal

    Why is this news? Sun/Solaris dominated the high-end financial sector for ages...any exchange/trading house/equity firm/etc that is using Windows is insane IMHO. Linux is just the most recent unix platform to show up in the sector, it's not revolutionary...

    Were there any open source solutions being used in there before?

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @05:03PM (#29662883) Journal

    This is not my area of expertise, but it strikes me that for these applications, the rule of thumb for decades has been to get as close to the iron as you can. There are just way too many layers of abstraction in Windows and .Net, and damned little control over what goes on under the hood. With a Linux kernel, if you need very high RT performance you can cherry pick your hardware, compile the kernel and various other supporting apps with that in mind. I would imagine that they've also moved to Oracle here, and I don't give a crap what the Redmond shills say, I wouldn't put MS-SQL in that kind of environment for all the kickbacks in the world.

  • by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @05:09PM (#29662959)

    If you're over 300 kilometers away from the server, a one-way transaction will take more than 1 millisecond at the speed of light anyway. If millisecond gaps were that important, you'd hear about global disparities directly related to distances from the stock exchange servers.

  • by AC-987654321 ( 1651321 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @05:27PM (#29663231)

    Typical PHB and incompetent/ expensive consulting services debacle. See below for an older ComputerWorld blog entry.


    July 1, 2009
    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    London Stock Exchange to abandon failed Windows platform []

    Anyone who was ever fool enough to believe that Microsoft software was good enough to be used for a mission-critical operation had their face slapped this September when the LSE (London Stock Exchange)'s Windows-based TradElect system brought the market to a standstill for almost an entire day. While the LSE denied that the collapse was TradElect's fault, they also refused to explain what the problem really wa. Sources at the LSE tell me to this day that the problem was with TradElect.

    Since then, the CEO that brought TradElect to the LSE, Clara Furse, has left without saying why she was leaving. Sources in the City-London's equivalent of New York City's Wall Street--tell me that TradElect's failure was the final straw for her tenure. The new CEO, Xavier Rolet, is reported to have immediately decided to put an end to TradElect.

    TradElect runs on HP ProLiant servers running, in turn, Windows Server 2003. The TradElect software itself is a custom blend of C# and .NET programs, which was created by Microsoft and Accenture, the global consulting firm. On the back-end, it relied on Microsoft SQL Server 2000. Its goal was to maintain sub-ten millisecond response times, real-time system speeds, for stock trades.

    It never, ever came close to achieving these performance goals. Worse still, the LSE's competition, such as its main rival Chi-X with its MarketPrizm trading platform software, was able to deliver that level of performance and in general it was running rings about TradElect. Three guesses what MarketPrizm runs on and the first two don't count. The answer is Linux.

    It's not often that you see a major company dump its infrastructure software the way the LSE is about to do. But, then, it's not often you see enterprise software fail quite so badly and publicly as was the case with the LSE. I can only wonder how many other Windows enterprise software failures are kept hidden away within IT departments by companies unwilling to reveal just how foolish their decisions to rely on archaic, cranky Windows software solutions have proven to be.

    I'm sure the LSE management couldn't tell Linux from Windows without a techie at hand. They can tell, however, when their business comes to a complete stop in front of the entire world.

    So, might I suggest to the LSE that they consider Linux as the foundation for their next stock software infrastructure? After all, besides working well for Chi-X, Linux seems to be doing quite nicely for the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange), the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange), etc., etc.


  • by openfrog ( 897716 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:13PM (#29663731)

    From now on, it will no longer possible to take refuge in the idea that you can't get fired for keeping with Microsoft.

    the CEO that brought TradElect to the LSE, Clara Furse, has
    left without saying why she was leaving. Sources in the City-London's
    equivalent of New York City's Wall Street--tell me that TradElect's
    failure was the final straw for her tenure.

  • by zuperduperman ( 1206922 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:42PM (#29664029)

    The platform was limited by the run time which was Windows / .NET. If you dig into the stories you can find quotes indicating that a crucial advantage of the new platform is that they were able to examine and tune every layer of the stack from the kernel upwards to avoid latencies right down to the processor level itself. Only Microsoft can do that for windows and they aren't in a hurry to make customized versions of their stack for individual applications.

  • Re:How fast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spiffmastercow ( 1001386 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @07:05PM (#29664223)
    I could see .NET being good for stock exchange, if coded properly. The thread management libraries in .NET make it really easy to develop a massively multithreaded piece of software which handles atomic changes properly and efficiently. That's basically what a stock exchange program would be, right?
  • Re:De Icaza Responds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @07:19PM (#29664345)

    The TradElect system was originally developed by Microsoft and Accenture so it was to be a showcase of how excellent .NET was.

    Unfortunately, other companies showed how good their stuff was for this kind of work, and MS showed that you cannot polish a turd.

    (well, ok, .NET would have created a system that would run your line-of-business apps without problem, but when it comes to very high performance, low latency systems, its simply not suitable, a bit like Java is not suitable for nuclear reactors).

    The new system will be written entirely in a lower level language, and MilleniumIT does use C++ - take a look at their jobs board and you'll see the only skill referenced is C++.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that a GC-based, VM-based language that has layers of intermediate execution is going to be slower than is required for a trading system. What I don;t get is that MS thought they could throw hardware at it until it worked. Don't forget that MilleniumIT also was bought for $30m which is roughly half what the .NET system cost (£40m).

    The moral is that you don't want to use the simple-to-code MS platform when you can get a best-of-breed system, based on Linux and good engineering for a lot less. IT managers around the world should be looking at this and thinking what similar lessons their IT departments could learn.

  • Re:How fast (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @07:22PM (#29664381)

    It did, in fact. A previous poster mentioned that it did do the job. Better than advertised even. The consulting company, Accenture, simply lost the LSE as a client for a number of non-platform-related reasons.

  • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @08:12PM (#29664801)

    But gained a lot anyway. Sure, the LSE has moved on, but the fact that a .Net application on Windows Server 2003/SQL Server 2000 could handle the LSE at all isn't a total loss for MS. I'm sure they learned a lot in this failure. Seriously, .Net 1.0 came out in 2002. In five/six years, the VM held up to a pretty high standard. Sure, the damn thing melted down for a day and getting five/six nines out of any Windows system is/will be a total black art, but doing so for a Linux system isn't a walk in the park either. There is plenty of room for this new deployment to crash. If it does, it's not an indicment of Linux; it is a statement on how hard such systems are at all levels.

    Rock solid systems can be bit on both platforms. It is just a matter of if the costs and benefits are worth it. In this case, it doesn't seem the Windows solution held up. But to call this as proof on how bad MS software is seems to be hyperbole that misses the fact for a good while, it did work. Given how new all the software involved is, I'm surprised.

  • Re:Awesome. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DamnStupidElf ( 649844 ) <> on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @08:40PM (#29665015)
    What's with the anal retentive GNU/Linux all the time. Just call in linux already. With a GNU/Linux name, linux never is going to get any popularity. Yeah yeah, I know, linux officially just denotes the kernel etc., but really, no-one cares. It's an image thing. How many people do you hear saying that they have "microsoft windows ixpee" on their computer? That's right. None. They just state that they've got "XP", or "Vista", or "Mac" / "Apple"

    I don't think I've ever heard anyone bragging or claiming to run "ntoskrnl.exe" or "Mach" on their Windows/Apple box, whereas I hear plenty of people who say they run Redhat, Ubuntu, SuSE, etc. I don't see the problem.
  • Re:De Icaza Responds (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alpha830RulZ ( 939527 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @10:41PM (#29665765)

    The only thing that seems strange is the cost disparity. .NET apps are usually much cheaper to develop,

    You caught where they had Accenture as the integrator. That's where your cost came from. And probably where the relatively poor performance came from. Accenture gets projects done, for the most part, but their history is full of situations like this. .Net is not productive enough to overcome the bad effects of legions of inexperienced developers.

    I'd be surprised if a strong team couldn't develop a fast, economical replacement using .Net. Or Java. Or Scala.

    Disclosure: I worked for Accenture for 10 years, a long time ago, before they were Accenture. I was one of the more technical folk, which should scare you.

"Ninety percent of baseball is half mental." -- Yogi Berra