NYSE launches VMware-based cloud for financial firms

Expansions of the cloud service planned for Toronto, Tokyo and London

The New York Stock Exchange has built a VMware-based cloud computing service for financial firms, which goes live today from a data center in New Jersey with expansions planned for Toronto, Tokyo and London.

Known by the catchy moniker "Capital Markets Community Platform," the cloud will be similar to infrastructure-as-a-service offerings from Amazon and Rackspace. But the NYSE and VMware said it will be unique in specifically targeting financial services customers, while offering robust security, access to NYSE market data, and minimum computing requirements to avoid performance problems.

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Although virtualization performance has become acceptable for many mission-critical workloads, the NYSE's Feargal O'Sullivan says the stock exchange primarily sticks with bare-metal servers for the majority of its own latency-sensitive applications. That won't be the case in the cloud service, but O'Sullivan said the performance should be robust enough for many types of transactional services, market data analysis, quotes and trading applications.

NYSE's cloud customers must buy a minimum of a half a terabyte of storage and 96GB of RAM, with no more than one virtual machine allowed for each 8GB of RAM. That basically guarantees there won't be more than one virtual machine per CPU, preventing performance problems, says O'Sullivan, vice president of platform development for NYSE Technologies. Still, customers who measure performance in terms of microseconds may find the service not fast enough, so the NYSE also offers a separate service with dedicated hardware.

"They might test in the cloud and deploy on bare metal, which is why we're offering both," O'Sullivan says.

The NYSE cloud uses VMware, along with EMC VNX storage and HP blade servers. While this isn't the first time NYSE has offered computing services to other financial firms, it is the NYSE's first cloud service with virtualization and a self-service provisioning system, which uses VMware's vCloud Director software.

Although the NYSE is opening up its data centers to customers, it is not providing the trading infrastructure. Customers will log in through vCloud Director and provision an operating system - either Red Hat Linux or Windows - and then install their own software on top of that.

While Amazon EC2 requires customers to patch their own operating systems, NYSE will take care of that on the customer's behalf. Dedicated firewalls and private virtual LANs also boost security, O'Sullivan says.

Two clients have already signed up for the cloud, a hedge fund called Millennium Partners and a brokerage called Pico Quantitative Trading. The cloud is going into a beta trial Wednesday, with production expected July 1. Potential customers will range from major investment banks to small hedge funds, O'Sullivan says.

The cloud will launch with 32 blade servers from the NYSE's new data center in Mahwah, N.J., will expand to London by the fall, and to Toronto and Tokyo later this year.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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