NZX down for five hours

It was a baptism of fire for the New Zealand Exchange's CIO, Chris Corke, who had to shut down the exchange's faulty FASTER trading system yesterday on his second day in the job.

It was a baptism of fire for the New Zealand Exchange's CIO, Chris Corke, who had to shut down the exchange's faulty FASTER trading system yestrday on his second day in the job.

"These things are sent to try us," Corke says.

Yesterday's closure was unrelated to one a month ago, which didn't occur on NZX systems but on settlement applications the exchange depends on. But the upshot of both was that trading was lost for most of a day.

Of yesterday's incident, Corke says, "We were running our morning checks and noted there were a number of users unable to connect."

When a particular summary of trades was requested, the users' connection was terminated "and because there were a number of users affected and NZX wishes to maintain [an environment] where everyone can trade at the same time, it had to be rectified".

The exchange was down until 2.45pm yesterday and Corke says the reason for such a long delay was that the fault was more complex than last month's, which was immediately identifiable, and thus some time was spent identifying it before it could be fixed.

"We've done a full post-mortem on it and are building it into a process for dealing with failures."

Corke says he has been "actively contacting" share broking firms' IT managers and "will be in regular contact with them", in the course of his job.

NZX recently conducted an audit of its IT systems and Corke says "it was very comprehensive, as the amount of paperwork in front of me attests to".

He will be overseeing the implementation of the audit's recommendations, which include replacing or upgrading the network, " a large amount of software development", and "looking at existing systems".

The network, while "resilient", is unlikely to be able to handle an expected increase in traffic volume and thus a replacement is necessary.

"You reach a point where you want to go forward."

NZX plans to launch AX, a secondary board for smaller companies to raise capital, later this year and Corke says NZX's development team will be busy preparing applications related to it.

Extensive work will also be done on web development, "as it's where you get most information [about NZX] if you're a private investor".

NZX's everyday systems such as OS, antivirus and email clients will also be reviewed and while both Red Hat and Debian Linux are in use at the back end, "there are no plans to move to it on workstations, which are a Windows XP environment". He describes Linux on the servers as "very resilient".

Corke is no newcomer to stock exchanges, having worked for the London Stock Exchange for five years and while that was a stimulating place to be, he's enjoying heading the smaller team at NZX.

"In a lot of respects, I prefer it here. It's a small group of focused, bright people."

Corke has lived in New Zealand for 10 years and previous jobs here include two stints at Telecom as well as retail software development manager at Advantage Group and professional services manager for BEA Systems.

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Tags New Zealand Stock Exchange

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