May 25, 2005

For the Boston Stock Exchange to remain competitive, its ticker-processing software must provide brokers with a constant feed of data that can be used to price stock orders. If this flow of information wavers, traders lose out - a fact not lost on the exchange as it migrated its ticker-processing application to a Linux platform in April.

The exchange's Market Access ticker-processing software from Boston-based Market Systems Technology distributes a feed of consolidated data from the Securities Industry Automation Corp., which supports order processing, trading, market data reporting, trade comparison, surveillance, clearance and settlement for a range of securities, to brokers. The software is the underpinning of a critical information service that the exchange offers to its brokers, says Tom Targonski, project management office VP for the Boston Stock Exchange, the fastest-growing stock exchange in the U.S. "If it went down, they couldn't trade effectively," he says.

The migration of Market Access from a fault-tolerant Continuum server from Maynard, Mass.-based Stratus Technologies, its home for more than a decade, to a newer Stratus ftServer T Series will put the ticker-processing software on a lower-cost platform that runs on Intel rather than RISC processors, and on the Linux open-source operating system rather than Stratus' proprietary virtual operating system (VOS). A smaller system running industry-standard microprocessors and an open-source operating system cuts the up-front and maintenance costs for the hardware and eliminates any operating system licensing fees, notes Targonski, who declines to cite specific cost savings for the exchange.

The moves by Stratus and Market Systems Technology to incorporate Linux into their products encouraged the Boston Stock Exchange to give the operating system a try. "The move has been relatively easy in terms of porting the [ticker-processing] application to Linux ," Targonski says.

"We wanted this to be transparent to the traders on the floor."

The exchange isn't considering moving any of its other systems, including its order-routing network, to Linux. The exchange developed that system - Beacon, or Boston Exchange Automated Communication and Order-Routing Network - in 1986 to integrate exchange trading and information systems. Subsequent developments to the Beacon system, which also runs on a fault-tolerant Stratus server, have made it possible to eliminate the use of paper order tickets on the floor by using Sun Microsystems workstations.