sábado, septiembre 19, 2009

La bolsa de Londres abandona Microsoft y .NET




Tan solo 3 años depués de implantar un novísimo sistema, después de decirse a los 4 vientos que era lo más evolucionado tecnológicamente, el futuro, lo más en rendimiento... seguramente tras una muy importante inversión...

Cambiarán la plataforma windows .net por Unix o Linux. Lo que significa hacer el desarrollo totalmente nuevo.

Eso no es barato y se hace en época de crisis donde las compañías buscan reducción de gastos

¿Porqué no arreglan el fallo? ¿Porqué no hacen los ajustes oportunos?
Algo habrán visto para que les compense hacerlo nuevo más que arreglarlo

London Stock Exchange migrating from .NET to Oracle/UNIX platform
By tim. Follow Tim on Twitter
The London Stock Exchange has agreed to acquire MillenniumIT, and will be replacing its TradElect and Infolect systems with the MillenniumIT trading system. TradElect is based on Windows Server and .NET, and was created by Microsoft and Accenture. Microsoft used to use the LSE’s system as a showcase for .NET scalability, but while it proved that .NET can work for large systems, the LSE suffered an outage in September 2008 that was rumoured to be the fault of TradElect.
I don’t know much about MillenniumIT but note that the company is a partner with Sun and Oracle and that the MillenniumIT Exchange brochure [pdf] states:
Operating System: UNIX or Linux
Database: Oracle
As Brian Bryson of IBM/Rational observes, it is short-sighted to lay the blame on the platform. Nevertheless, considering the high profile of this system and Microsoft’s active involvement it is at least an embarrassment.
The mitigation for Microsoft is that .NET has less to prove these days. Even if running a system as large and performance-critical as the London Stock Exchange was a step too far, particularly for Server 2003 and (apparently) SQL Server 2000, that doesn’t rule out Microsoft’s technology for more usual workloads; and there are improvements in Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.
Still, I’d love to know more about why the LSE is abandoning TradElect and what the lessons are for those designing and implementing systems at this level.
The problems with TradElect are thoroughly debated in the comments here.
Update: Microsoft’s LSE Case Study from 2006 is here.
I have also received the following statement from a Microsoft spokesperson:
Microsoft continues to support some of the most demanding, mission-critical environments in the world and is constantly raising the performance bar with new solutions. Most recently, Microsoft completed three different proof-of-concept projects for a major international stock exchange that demonstrate Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft .NET can successfully support very low latency trading activities, in the 100 microsecond range using standard 1 Gigabit Ethernet. With the addition of Microsoft Network Direct, that latency is further reduced by 50%, which is industry leading performance.


LSE-Microsoft: what was ment to happen happened
Unfortunately, I didn't had this blog when back in 2005-2006, but I had bet with my friends that what happened today would just happen.

When the London Stock Exchange publicly announced they were ditching their good old Unix systems for new Windows 2003 Server and .Net platform, Microsoft started a huge "Get The Facts" campaign, explaining how much better Windows was compared to Linux.

I knew this would end in tears, as history keeps on repeating itself as the same had happened with a publicly traded French company (LDLC.com) and probably many more which I missed. At that time, Microsoft published many Success Stories about the switch from a Linux and Open Source software platform to Microsoft platform. Given the massive failure of their system, the LDLC lost many many clients and their price collapsed. Microsoft removed the success stories from their web site, but obviously, they didn't published any Failure Story.

Here's the storyline:
(Source) London Stock Exchange 10/27/2006
London Stock Exchange Cuts Information Dissemination Time from 30 to 2 Milliseconds
As part of its strategy to win more trading business and new customers, the London Stock Exchange needed a scalable, reliable, high-performance stock exchange ticker plant to replace its earlier system. Roughly 40 percent of the Exchange's revenues are generated by the sale of real-time information about stock prices. Using the Microsoft® .NET Framework in Windows Server® 2003 and the Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000 database, the new Infolect® system has been built to achieve unprecedented levels of performance, availability, and business agility. Launched in September 2005, it is maintaining the London Stock Exchange's world-leading service reliability record while reducing latency by a factor of 15. Its successful implementation, with support from Microsoft and Accenture, shows the London Stock Exchange's leadership in developing next-generation trading systems.
Then the unavoidable disaster occured:
(Source) September 9, 2008 9:32 AM PDT
London Stock Exchange outage blamed on Microsoft

The WSJ reports that yesterday's 7 hour outage at the LSE is due to a proprietary platform based on Microsoft technologies.
At the heart of the problem appears to be super-fast technology that has become critical to LSE and other exchanges. Traders experienced problems connecting to TradElect, a 15-month-old proprietary LSE platform developed with Microsoft Corp. technology that the LSE has touted as allowing it to expand and speed up its capacity for trades. "Microsoft is working with the London Stock Exchange to understand the root cause of the outage," said a Microsoft spokesman.
Realistically, this could have happened with any technology choice, but it's amazing to me that the LSE is not all *nix. Details are fuzzy, so maybe this is just a desktop as opposed to a core trading system.
As Julian Goldsmith reports, this month was also the deadline for TradElect to reach 10,000 continuous messages per second. That's a pretty significant number and I can't point to a Microsoft success story processing that kind of volume.
And it took them about a year to draw the conclusion:
(Source) July 1, 2009 - 1:20 P.M. 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.


Quick follow-up on the LSE - Microsoft fiasco
I wanted to quickly follow up on the post LSE-Microsoft: what was ment to happen happened I made a few days ago.

Indeed, some questions must be raised and some answers must be looked for. My main concern was that it's difficult to understand how Microsoft could allow such a major public failure to happen without trying to resolve the problem — no matter the cost — and make sure such a wildly advertised project doesn't blow up on their face.

So the assumption can be made that Microsoft probably did their best to solve the problem but that they didn't achieve.

Two reasons seem likely in my opinion. First, Microsoft probably doesn't have enough workforce based in the UK, and so they had to either send people from the US and/or rely on consultancies/business partners. This idea brings the second reason: the project was lead by Accenture, a major consultancy firm and hence they should have had all the workforce required to solve the problem, one might think.

So while I believe the failure resulted from a mixture of both the reasons, I am more than convinced that the major drag was the fact that project was outsourced to Accenture. Why? Because in my opinion the .Net platform is a very capable one and second because I have many friends who work in various consultancies and the trend is very clear in these companies. I might be wrong on both accounts, but some Googling done by a friend confirmed what my friends told me :
[quote from a post] I worked for Accenture in one of the "delivery centres" in the Eastern Europe and it was total crap. They hired 1st and 2nd year students for peanuts, and sold them as professionals to rich foreign companies. The turnover of staff was about a third - after one learned something, it was best to get out of there as soon as possible. From the posts on the glassdoor i can infer that this is the strategy accenture employs worldwide.

[another post] Accenture's usual technique is to hire students or recent graduates from technical fields, who are reasonably capable in programming and computer science but know absolutely nothing about the consulting problems at hand or the software platforms which they use. Accenture gives them a weekend's notice before allocating them in real world projects they were not trained to do. These employees are overworked, underpaid, deliver substandard services and most end up quitting after one or two years. The few who don't quit and aren't complete morons get promoted.

[Yet another one] I have to side with the "accenture is worse than incompetent" crowd.
I know of one project they worked on for the University of Minnesota redoing their financial system that they fucked up completely. I've a friend who was in the periphery of the project (he knew some of the key developers) and saw it all coming. They hire monkeys to produce documentation, and produce complete garbage code. They actually had to fire some people because they discovered they were never at their desk, but produced code. It was discovered they contracted their own jobs out to someone in India to do.
I also know someone who had to work with the "finished" product when it was first roled out, and it was a complete train wreck. (Think magic formulas and tea leaves to get what you need done). It's still largely a train wreck a year later, people have just gotten used to the train wreck.
So my conclusion is that this is an Accenture blow-up but that it is Microsoft which is going to carry the shame and the blame... Again, I might be wrong. Should you have opinion/additional information, please do not hesitate to share.

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