ICE completes technology overhaul

ICE completes technology overhaul

US market operator IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) says it has completed a two year upgrade of its technology infrastructure which included the transition of its futures markets to a state-of-the-art trading platform.

The two-year initiative involved the rebuilding and optimisation of ICE's trading software, hardware, network and security components to increase speed, access, capacity, reliability and functionality.

The exchange says its platform now delivers average transaction times of three milliseconds in ICE futures markets and a blended average of seven milliseconds for futures and OTC markets.

ICE says the enhancements have also produced consistency in performance, with less than 0.5% of all futures transactions resulting in transaction time over 50 milliseconds.

The exchange completed the relocation of its main data centre from Atlanta to Chicago in the last week. The new site hosts the ICE platform for electronic markets across all asset classes. A high-speed fibre network connecting data hubs in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, London and Singapore has also been implemented.

ICE president and COO Chuck Vice, says the exchange has made "substantial infrastructure investments" in 2007 to ensure participants "reap the benefits of the latest innovations in electronic market design".

The exchange's CTO, Edwin Marcial, adds: "We utilise a strategic approach in building and managing our technology infrastructure in-house allowing us to focus on market-driven development initiatives."

Marcial says ICE has completed the final phase of this technology initiative while registering record volume and message traffic and integrating five businesses, including two newly acquired futures exchanges, two new clearing houses and a new OTC marketplace.

"We are also completing a software development phase, which will form the basis of our third clearing house, ICE Clear Europe," adds Marcial.

Looking ahead ICE says it will make further technology enhancements in 2008, including the launch of the ICE Clear Europe, which, pending UK regulatory approval is scheduled for launch in July 2008. The exchange says it is also "actively working" to add options trading functionality to its electronic platform.

In the first quarter, ICE will complete the roll out of its "drop-copy functionality", which it says will provide futures brokerage and clearing firms with "real-time risk management solutions at no additional cost".

Earlier this month CME Group said it was upgrading its Globex eletronic trading platform during the first quarter of the year.

CME Group says the enhanced platform will deliver over a 50% reduction in message response times, from an average of 31 milliseconds down to approximately 16.5 milliseconds.

CBOT contracts were moved to the CME Globex system on 13th January, allowing customers to access all major asset classes from a single platform.

The newly-merged group is also planning to consolidate its trading floors at the Chicago Board of Trade building, which it says will create new "cross-product trading opportunities".

The group said it would also begin allowing block trades for the first time for certain CBOT interest rate products. Block trading in this market is expected to begin 4 February, subject to CFTC approval.

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