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10:27 AM
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Nasdaq: All Systems Read Go

Being an all-electronic exchange, Nasdaq was ready to go when the screens went dark.

Anna Ewing, a senior vice president of systems engineering with Nasdaq, was in her office at 4:12 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14, when the blackout of 2003 hit. "The light flickered off and came back on, but I knew that something was not quite right," she says. "When it happened again, we definitely knew something was going on."

After experiencing what she termed "a major power disruption" at Nasdaq's primary data center in Connecticut, Ewing says the all-electronic exchange's backup diesel generator immediately kicked in, keeping it "fully operational in the after hours market."

The power came back on at the data center around 11:00 p.m. Thursday night, when Nasdaq switched back to electric power.

Around 4:00 a.m., the exchange began reaching out to many of the 300 firms it services to check on their communications abilities. Though some were unreachable, "The vast majority of firms were able to connect with us," she says.

Ewing says that Nasdaq's "fully redundant, mesh-telecommunications network," provided by MCI, helped the exchange stay in touch through the crisis. "We have diversity at multiple levels in our network where firms connect locally into the network via multiple providers. The network connects both into our data center in Connecticut and our backup site in Maryland, so there is no single point of failure."

Being an electronic exchange, it should come as no surprise that Nasdaq had backup power at the ready, she says. "We are continually testing our system for outages on a weekly basis. We actually test our generators by disconnecting from our utility feeds to make sure the generators kick in," adds Ewing

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