.NET/Microsoft detractors got an early Christmas present recently when the London Stock Exchange, under a relatively new CEO, decided to dump their .NET/SQL Server –based trading platform, TradElect,to replace it with the product of a being-acquired company.
On Slashdot, news of this was submitted and accepted as “London Stock Exchange Rejects .NET for Open Source”, with the statement that “The switch is a pretty savage indictment of the costs of a complex .NET system.” The Digg submitter went with the title “London Stock Exchange dumps Windows for Linux” — which they took directly from the linked article — with the description “Fed up with Windows’ failures, one of world’s major stock exchanges is joining many others in making the switch to reliable Linux“.
The heavily-linked columnist in both cases is a guy who has been riding this “LSE dumps Windows!” horse for a while now. It has certainly provided him with lots of quality incoming visitors, drawing in those looking for validation, and angry hordes baited by his trolls. Encouraged on he seems to be accelerating the unsubstantiated hyperbole.
Let’s take a moment to go back in history for a bit.
Microsoft made a Really Big Deal about the LSE originally switching to this custom, Accenture-built, SQL Server 2000/.NET-based solution. This was sort of Microsoft’s coming out party, in a way saying “look, we’re big boys too! No more pull-ups for us”.
When the LSE had a very public failure on one of the biggest trading days in history, the detractors were screaming “I told you this would happen!” until their throats were sore, despite the cause of the failure never having been publicly detailed.
Failures have happened on every platform, most commonly as a result of application failure. To automatically assume the worst of a novel solution simply because it is atypical is the thought process of annoying simpletons, anxiously and eagerly hoping to try to pin any fault on anything that doesn’t fit their vanilla perspective of how things are supposed to work.
“The software must have failed because Bob went with HP instead of IBM!”
“The payroll system miscalculated. It must be because they moved it to Linux from Solaris!”
So what really happened with the LSE?
Accenture built a very expensive, custom solution for the LSE, purportedly costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 million dollars. To operate this custom in-house (albeit designed by Accenture out-of-house) system the LSE built up a considerable technology workforce.
The worldwide recession hits and the LSE takes some financial hits. A swarming mass of competitors in Europe, many running off-the-shelf, superior systems that they’re paying less for, go live.
A new CEO takes over and immediately starts to swing the axe. He makes specific comments in the press about the high IT costs of the organization; both of the large number of technology workers in London, and the continuing significant payments to Accenture to finesse the TradElect platform.
He undoubtedly observed that all of this custom work hasn’t gained them any unique advantage in the relatively commodity task that they performed. In some ways it’s like writing and maintaining your own in-house operating system – if it doesn’t give you some advantage, and actually puts you behind as everyone else pools resources on a solution, then why would you do that?
So they go on the market for a replacement, eventually deciding to go with the product of a Sri Lankan company. The price is right, and the lure of low-priced Sri Lankan talent is enticing enough that they buy the whole company.
In the end they have switched from an extravagant,custom-developed solution built by a notoriously expensive consulting company, and a workforce of expensive talent in the West, to a basically off-the-shelf solution that has been subsidized to its current state by other organizations, in the process getting some low-paid talent in South-East Asia.
The new product isn’t open-source, and it runs on a range of non-open-source UNIX platforms. The Oracle database system it uses is the antithesis of open-source.
What about this story has anything to do with open source?
Where this story gets legs among the zealots is that the LSE plans to deploy the new product on Linux, given that the underlying operating system in many cases has been commoditized. Who wouldn’t?
Zealots cheering on trolling columnists like Steven J.Vaughan-Nichols do the profession harm. Now this nonsense is going to be parroted by people who don’t know better, making them look worse for it, for years to come.
I love Linux. I love open source. And you know I also am even quite fond of .NET and SQL Server. I detest fanatics, fanboys, and hysterical columnist that distort or invent reality to get themselves hits.