NYBOT Gets Back on Track

Five years after 9/11, the New York Board of Trade has plans to implement an electronic trading system that is the latest step in enhancing uptime.

After being destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, the trading floor of New York Board of Trade, at 4 World Trade Center, is capping five years of solid growth with plans to implement electronic trading for the first time.

The current prosperity of the plucky commodities exchange—the value of a seat on the exchange has catapulted from $70,000 in 2001 to $700,000—can be traced directly to NYBOTs disaster recovery strategy, which paid big dividends in the aftermath of 9/11.

Because Executive Vice President of Operations Patrick Gambaro previously had set up a fully equipped disaster recovery site, including trading pits and data center, in the Long Island City district of Queens, the exchange was up and running at the remote site in less than one week.

Daily trading volume is now up to 200,000 contracts, worth $45 million, up from 80,000 contracts worth some $25 million daily in 2001 prior to the attacks.

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The exchange handles cocoa, coffee, cotton, ethanol, orange juice, wood pulp and sugar, as well as currency and index futures and options.

Following 9/11, NYBOT, as well as many other financial services institutions in lower Manhattan, have implemented triangulated data network architectures, a step up from earlier-generation schemes, which had one principal site and a single disaster recovery backup facility.

Even as it carried on business as usual from Long Island City, NYBOT put in a triangulated data network, one point of which is at the exchanges new trading floor at 1 North End Ave., in a building owned by the New York Mercantile Exchange and adjacent to the World Trade Center site. The computer systems that perform trades and clearing processes are housed in a data center at 39 Broadway in lower Manhattan and at the Long Island City facility, which is run by SunGard Availability Services.

"If we lose North End Avenue, I still have my data centers," Gambaro said. Since moving the main trading floor back to lower Manhattan in 2003, Gambaro has upgraded links between the sites with new T-1 and T-3 lines and has put in a new Nortel PBX phone system. "All the phones could be switched from the trading floor to Long Island City, so the clients and brokers couldnt tell any difference."

Other organizations have followed suit. Dow Jones reopened a newsroom at 1 World Financial Center—formerly its headquarters—but moved its editorial and sales headquarters, as well as its data operations, to South Brunswick, N.J. Dow Jones built a new secondary data facility in Secaucus, N.J.

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Still other firms acknowledge dispersal of their data operations but jealously guard information about their corporate data centers: A Merrill Lynch spokeswoman said the giant brokerage had built several new data centers in response to 9/11 but declined to elaborate.

Those new fail-safe schemes have enabled many financial heavyweights to move significant operations—but often not their principal data site—back to lower Manhattan.

As those big companies move back, that district of New York is regaining much of its lost luster as a financial capital, even as construction on the new Freedom Tower continues on the site of the former World Trade Center.

Next Page: Going electronic.