Approximately 14 months before Superstorm Sandy walloped Manhattan and shut down the NYSE, the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene had made NYSE put disaster recovery plans in place to keep the big board operating, even if its Manhattan trading floor was inoperable or inaccessible.
According to a WSJ article, the NYSE disaster recovery plan was staying open with a pared down staff but shifting execution of trades to their all electronic sister exchange, ARCA. When Sandy arrived more than a year later, however, NYSE-member banks and brokerage houses decided to close the NYSE for several days because they had never tested their ability to trade using a contingency plan and were not sure it would work.
The WSJ article notes how rare such closures have been for NYSE: Since 1885, the exchange has closed only 14 times because of weather, so maybe Wall Street thought disaster would never come. One of the questions that strikes me: If NYSE had disaster recovery plans why didn’t its executives ensure member banks and brokers had tested trading under the plans and were comfortable with them?
Some IT Disaster Recovery Plans to Think About
The lesson for IT pros: Consider what your disaster recovery plans require from clients, partners, vendors, and other parties. Do they know about these requirements? Do they have the tested systems in place to act confidently when a disaster comes?
One of ironies, given NYSE’s comparatively good record on weather-related closings, is that the closing of NYSE because of Sandy has created additional scrutiny from federal regulators worried that financial institutions are not prepared for natural disasters.
Nevertheless, taking a look at whether exchanges have solid disaster recovery plans is worthwhile. NYSE’s short term disaster plan will be filed with the SEC shortly. Its longer term plan involves deploying IT resources to fully automate trading so that NYSE could operate without its 100 or so traders on the floor.
Smaller stock exchanges have also learned from their experiences with Irene and Sandy. According to the same article, “Other stock exchanges are focused on distancing their main operations and disaster recovery systems in the event of a region-wide danger of transportation snarls.”
The article mentions one smaller exchange that had both of its data centers in New Jersey. The CIO is in the process of adding a center in Chicago. Good move. Do your disaster recovery plans include offsite backup at a site remote enough to allow for recovery if a disaster affects a wide area?
Consider what your acceptable time to data is in the event of a regional disaster. A new module such as Kaseya System Backup and Restore is an OEM integration of StorageCraft’s Shadow Protect into the Kaseya UI. It can shorten your system recovery times from days to hours and from hours to minutes. That’s comforting whether a super storm or a pack of SEC regulators is on the way.