Hardware problems halt trading at Sydney exchange

Trading was halted at the Sydney Future's Exchange (SFE) yesterday (16 August) after hardware problems.

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Trading was halted at the Sydney Future's Exchange (SFE) yesterday (16 August) after hardware problems.

The SFE issued a public notice stating all SFE markets would be stopped at 12.45pm to address "an urgent hardware rectification" unrelated to trading volumes.

"Advanced notice is provided to all users in order that this unscheduled market pause is managed as effectively as possible," according to the SFE.

The expected trading downtime was between 45 and 75 minutes, but reports indicate it was even longer.

When the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) merged with the SFE mid last year, managing director and CEO Robert Elstone pledged to make sure the customers don't suffer any disruption to service levels or the quality of service generally.

Kevin McIsaac, senior analyst at Australian research house IBRS, said he was "really surprised" at the downtime and although the ASX claims trading volume was not responsible, he believes it is possible a secondary system was unable to cope with the present high trading volumes.

"They may have a failover strategy, but with the high volumes yesterday that might not have been sufficient," McIsaac said, adding that bringing the system back in an hour was good.

"Even if you do have a secondary site doing anything in less than 10 minutes is unusual. How could you have a hardware failure on such a system that is designed for high-availability?"

ASX would not disclose the type of computer systems or software running the SFE's trading platform. "The only thing we have advised the market is that it was hardware related," a spokesman said.

But McIsaac said ASX runs on the HP NonStop, formerly Tandem, systems and said the SFE might be running older VAX hardware. "That stuff just doesn't stop," he said.

And in 2001 HP said the SFE purchased an array of Compaq AlphaServer DS20E systems running OpenVMS to host its new allocation, clearing and settlement application.

These systems are attached to a Fibre Channel SAN and run an Oracle database.

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