NYSE Euronext is in the process of equipping two new data centers in the greater New York and London areas and will use them to reposition itself as a technology leader of trading services.
But ultra-modern no longer means ultra-big servers or ultra-complex infrastructure. On the contrary, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Microsoft, companies with massive data center capacity, are building data centers with common components -- PC-style servers, disk drives, and I/O devices -- on a massive scale.
At the NYSE facilities, a small portion of each data center is devoted to systems running Sun UltraSparc or IBM Power-based servers, perhaps 80 servers in all, says Steve Rubinow, CIO of NYSE Euronext. But most are Intel and AMD-based servers.
"We have a collection of blades on racks and individual servers -- a mix -- with a lot of storage and networking gear. They are almost exclusively x86 (instruction set) servers," he said in numbers that approach but fall short of 10,000. The servers are four CPU units running dual cores, or eight cores per server, a low-cost sweet spot in the server market.
Amazon and Google are reported to have built 40,000- to 50,000-server data centers; Microsoft boasts the Chicago data center it opened last fall will eventually have 300,000 servers and is believed to be the largest in the world.
The NYSE x86 servers are virtualized "but not heavily," meaning the number of virtual servers per physical machine has been kept light, rather than trying to utilize every CPU cycle with a high number of virtual machines. In some settings, 16-30 VMs per server is considered a heavy load.
Any system that is highly latency sensitive is placed on a lightly virtualized server or non-virtualized server, while the more latency tolerant systems can be doubled up in multiple virtual machines per server.
NYSE customers don't get to choose the level of latency they want. On the contrary, "everyone goes through the same pathway," said Rubinow, so trading services are delivered on a level playing field for all customers. But NYSE wants its trading services to be the lowest latency systems in the world, he said.