The proliferation of online trading platforms and services coupled with demand for high speed trading has put pressure on stock exchanges to seek high performance capabilities while maintaining system stability.

But how are stock exchanges responding to this need?  Some have gone down the path of creating “home grown” software based uptime solutions to ensure the availability of their most critical applications, while others have opted to deploy fault-tolerant hardware solutions. The amount of code exchanges write and maintain to ensure high availability can be formidable.

Stock exchanges that have placed their bets on “home grown” solutions have been burdened with the cost, complexity and efforts associated with modifying their proven applications, writing new code and maintaining that code, as well as the impact on CPU cycles. And despite this, they are still unable to guarantee the consistent, deterministic levels of performance required to meet their “zero tolerance” for downtime requirements with the same 99.999% that a true fault tolerant hardware solution provides. This “zero tolerance” for downtime is not only applicable to trading, it also applies to clearing and risk management applications that – while not low-latency dependent – are still critical to the business. In many instances, any amount of unplanned downtime of these critical applications could put a stock exchange’s reputation on the line or worse, the credibility of an entire nation’s financial system.

Those stock exchanges that have put their money on fault-tolerant server systems are reaping the benefits. From an operational and regulatory perspective, there is nothing better. The systems run reliably without unplanned downtime or outages and there is no need to write software-based code to support the applications – this is performed at the server level resulting in even more reliability than the software equivalent, less burden on the CPU and a significant reduction in Opex.

Over the last thirty years, Stratus has mastered fault-tolerant server solutions to guarantee the highest levels of uptime through its unique lock-step technology. As the premier fault-tolerant technology of choice for many stock exchanges the Stratus solution has evolved over the years to deliver today’s high performance capabilities through standard x86 architectures that meet the load requirements of high-speed, highly regulated financial transactions. Through a recent partnership with best-of-breed low-latency network card vendor, Solarflare, Stratus has further enhanced its solution to deliver low-latency and low-jitter kernel bypass. The winning combination of fault tolerance and low-latency is bringing tremendous value to exchanges and capital markets, meeting their uptime requirements without the need for any software modifications.

More on jitter and determinism in the next post.