So what does this story have to do with HPC? This is HPC news because the platforms that stock exchanges are running on need to handle huge volumes at minimal latency, and the choices they are making may have lessons for us — and vice versa.
The London Stock Stock Exchange (LSE) is currently running on TradElect, a platform on top of Windows that was custom built for them by the consulting firm Accenture. TradElect hasn’t been a huge success, though, because of its high latency, lack of robustness, and high cost. To address these concerns the LSE have now bought MillenniumIT, a company that has developed a trading engine, surveillance system, and routing solution on top of Linux. Compared to the cost of TradElect ($65 million), MillenniumIT is a bargain at only $30 million.
Many will see this as a victory of Linux over Windows, but likely it’s more a matter of control and expertise. MillenniumIT has over 400 specialists, and by buying them the LSE are now ‘bringing it all back in-house’. LSE can now switch to the whole software stack of MillenniumIT, and decide in which technology they will invest in the future. And the reason MillenniumIT chose to develop their solutions on top of Linux is probably also a matter of the control that is provided by building on top of open-source technologies.
This is certainly a lesson that we’ve seen time and again in HPC: many times the best performance only comes with expertise and control over the whole software stack.
Toon Knapen has over 10 years experience developing parallel CAE software that is now used throughout the aviation and automotive industry. Since two years he is focusing on developing HPC solutions for financial risk reporting in the energy trading business.