NYSE undertakes IBM mainframe migration to Unix and Linux

By moving from a 1,600 MIPS mainframe to distributed systems, the stock exchange is cutting transaction costs in half.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is migrating off a 1,600 millions of instructions per second (MIPS) mainframe to IBM System p servers running AIX and x86 Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) servers running Linux, with the first part of the move going live today.

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Francis Feldman, the vice president of the shared data center for Securities Industry Automation Corp. (SIAC), the NYSE's technology arm, said the bottom line for the migration was the bottom line. He estimates the move will halve the cost of transactions, and though he wouldn't detail how much that would mean on a yearly basis, he said it is "serious financial savings, very serious."

Trades executed on the floor of the NYSE are matched and sent by the mainframe to The Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., which clears and settles the trades. At night the mainframe handles batch processing and supports regulatory requirements. But Feldman and SIAC found that the costs of running Big Iron, which includes the manpower, software licensing and services, were prohibitive as long as they were under a 2,500 MIPS mainframe.

"The mainframe simply did not make sense," Feldman said. "For the type of work we run, we found price points that were more attractive on different platforms."

Mainframe migration prompts more questions

SIAC could have continued on the mainframe, outsourced to another vendor or tried to rewrite the code to run cleaner, but the group felt that moving to another platform was the most feasible solution. Then came the hard part: finding out who could help them get its JCL and COBOL logic to a distributed platform. Feldman said there are plenty of good mainframe migration companies out there, but some of them had difficulty grasping the difference between a smaller migration of 250 MIPS and one the likes of the NYSE's.

Some mainframe migration firms, for example, are primarily emulator software companies that Feldman said would incur performance delays after a certain number of MIPS. On the NYSE, even a split-second delay is costly.

"You have to provide us with an end run, and it has to deliver to the table the same or better performance as we see on the mainframe," Feldman said. "Not only on the CPU but on the I/O as well. That's asking for a lot if you're doing emulation."

Clerity, Tidal step in on mainframe migration

In came Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Clerity Solutions Inc., which focuses on legacy migrations. To test Clerity, Feldman and his team collected some batch and CICS application code, sent it to Clerity and said he would be at Clerity's development center in 24 hours to see the results. Clerity passed.

Clerity uses its UniKix software to ingest the mainframe code and compile it to run on a distributed platform. The recompilation is then tested in the company before it goes live. The AIX platform executes the application of the recompiled code while the Linux boxes handles FTP transfers on the front end. Feldman wouldn't disclose what Linux distribution was running on the HP servers.

Meanwhile, the NYSE is also using Tidal Software's job scheduling applications to replace IBM's Tivoli Operations Planning and Control job scheduler on the mainframe. The company already had Tidal Software scheduling jobs on existing distributed systems, so now all the job scheduling will be under one platform.

"Now we have the entire data flow in the scheduler," said Steve Hirsch, vice president of technology at the NYSE. "We'll be able to manage the entire job flow with one scheduler without having to hack it and make the job schedulers speak to one another. So it's a huge advantage to have one job scheduler."

First mainframe migration applications go live

Of course, the migration has not gone live yet. SIAC divided the move into a handful of application groups. Feldman would only describe the first application group migration, which will go into production today, as running internal business applications. Down the road, the NYSE will migrate applications supporting online transaction processing and different lines of the NYSE business. The migration is expected to be fully complete by the end of the year.

"It's working according to my expectations. So far, so good," Feldman said. "We still have a long road to go."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.

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