Stress Test: Bloomberg CIO Deals with Stock Market Data Surge

During the stock market's most volatile week in years, the data throughput of Bloomberg LP's trading and financial news network has been put to the test. Here's how the company prepared for the sudden data explosion.

Thu, August 11, 2011

CIO — Ever since Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating last week, the global financial markets have been on a wild ride.

In the midst of a week where the Dow Jones Industrial was down 630 points on Monday, up 420 points on Tuesday then down 520 points on Wednesday, financial media and technology company Bloomberg LP has been at the eye of the storm.

An unprecedented amount of stock trade data, stock quotes and other financial news and information has flowed through the Bloomberg Professional service, a platform for stock trading tools and financial and investment information used by more than 300,000 financial professionals globally.

Bloomberg processed 41 billion ticks — a tick is a change in a security's trades, bids and offer prices — on Friday Aug. 5, a 33 percent increase over the last major market peak in March 2011 (the Japanese earthquake and tsunami). This compares with 20 billion ticks for the financial crisis in 2008, 27.5 billion ticks during the flash crash of May 2010 and 30 billion ticks after the Japan tsunami. (See chart below)

Bloomberg processed twice as many ticks this week as it did during the financial crisis of 2008.

All of this added up to one nerve-wracking week for Bloomberg's CIO Vipul Nagrath as his months of testing and preparation for extreme data throughput was put to the ultimate test.

Nagrath talked to senior editor Shane O'Neill about how his IT staff has been handling one of the most volatile trading weeks in stock market history.

Is this the most trade data volume you've ever seen? Even more than the stock market meltdown of 2008?

Since last Thursday, tick volumes have been unprecedented. Both the data rates and daily aggregate data volumes are the highest we've ever seen. They are up dramatically compared to any recent event, including the 2008 crash, the tsunami in Tokyo, and the flash crash of May 2010. The Japan tsunami pushed tick volume up 8 percent from where it was after the flash crash. But this week we're up 33 percent from where we were after the tsunami. It's been dramatic.

What kind of adjustments did you have to make to Bloomberg's data systems to accommodate the recent volatility?

We've been anticipating volatility and we did a lot of testing to prepare for this kind of trading volume. But that doesn't mean that we slept easy. We didn't know how high it would go so we were on high alert to make sure nothing went wrong.

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