• United States

Change management at the CME

Mar 20, 20063 mins

Approvals board faces weekly risk assessment.

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the onus of determining what changes to make, and when to make them, falls on an approvals board, which meets each Tuesday morning for a risk assessment.

The directors of enterprise technology services, technical support and development make the change decisions. But anyone with a change request must come to the meeting for a quick run-through on what they need to make happen.

“We rely on anyone else in the room to speak up if they think the change will impact them,” says Joe Panfil, director of enterprise technology services.

Changes and testing generally take place when the market is down, from 4 p.m. Friday until Sunday at noon. The application team does its updates first, then the network team works on larger changes that sometimes require that all processing be complete, Panfil says.

With all the changes installed comes rigorous systems testing.

“Somewhere in the 4 to 5:30 a.m. time frame on Saturday, we start the servers for the markets that would come up at the beginning of the workweek and start testing,” he says.

If problems arise, the team rolls back the change, retests the original configuration and makes sure all systems are ready to go when live trading begins at 5 p.m. Sunday. The team will try to implement the change on another weekend.

Globex at a glance
  • The Globex infrastructure supports the near-24-hour-a-day, five-day-a-week online trading of futures and options on futures products, such as CME Eurodollars, S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 index futures.
  • In January, an average daily volume of 3.3 million contracts flowed across Globex. That volume, up 30% from the same period a year ago, represents 71% of total exchange trading.
  • Figures for the average daily volume represent only matched trades; the numbers are higher when factoring in canceled orders and other such transactions. For example, if 4.7 million contracts are traded in one day, the CME has actually processed from 10 million to 15 million transactions.
  • Customer trades now execute in less than 50 to 60 millisec on average, the CME reports, compared with around 140 millisec in January 2004.
  • To support Globex, the CME maintains two fully operational data centers in the Chicago area, plus a data center in London and hub sites scattered in Europe and one in Singapore. A third Chicago-area data center, set for completion by year-end, will give the CME more development, quality assurance and customer testing facilities.

Beth Schultz

To accommodate the change-management cycle and to ensure continuous coverage, the 49-member operations team works in three shifts from Sunday 10 a.m. until Saturday 5 p.m.

The 47 software and hardware systems administrators who provide second-level support work in shifts from Sunday 2 p.m. until about Friday 10 p.m.

“Both operations and the software and hardware support teams are here Friday evening supporting system changes, then on a rotational basis here on Saturday to support testing of the changes implemented,” Panfil says.

He notes an automated change-management tool makes the workweek far more predictable for the IT teams.