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Sandy Teaches N.Y. Stock Exchange Some Lessons in Electronic Backup

Tickers in this article: NYX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the New York Stock Exchange's Head of Operations, Lou Pastina, tells TheStreet that the Exchange's emergency backup plans are more robust than ever. Even pre-scheduled events such as initial public offerings would have the option of moving forward in the face of another weather-triggered event in New York, he says.

The New York Stock Exchange's Print as "P" plan, allowing the switch to an electronic trading system through the NYSE Arca platform, formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, has undergone numerous tests over the past year involving trading firms throughout the U.S. financial sector, Pastina said. The NYSE Arca's key datacenters are located in both New Jersey and Chicago.

The most difficult task for the NYSE is preparing systems to assure that enormous amounts of data are sufficiently backed up, including trades that may be in the process of being executed, Pastina said. And though machines handle the bulk of the chores, a minimum staff presence may be needed at the NYSE floor in Manhattan to help facilitate some aspects of the electronic trading system, he added.

Ultimately, the safety of the people is of course of the utmost priority, first and foremost. If their lives could be in any kind of jeopardy, halting the backup system would take precedence, Pastina said.

The NYSE's disaster recovery efforts for 9/11 and Sandy remain completely distinctive from each other but Pastina says there were changes made after 9/11 which if hadn't been done would have resulted in adverse consequences during Hurricane Sandy's landfall.

Lou Pastina spoke last week with TheStreet:

Pastina: There are some major differences between 9/11 and Sandy in terms of our disaster recovery. The biggest being that we moved our datacenter. We had two datacenters during 9/11, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. If we had had those datacenters there during Sandy, we would have had major problems. The primary data center was in Manhattan and close to the East River, so it would have been problematic. Therefore, the biggest change was moving this datacenter out of this region and away from the trading floor.

TheStreet: What is the single biggest problem you faced even as your electronic trading backup system was running at maximum capacity?

Pastina: In both situations, Sandy and 9/11, the Exchange itself was unaffected. With Sandy, the water came as close as Beaver Street and Pearl Street but not into the Exchange. But the biggest problem, and it's similar in both situations, was the communications lines - not the communications lines into the Exchange, but communications lines for firms. If you remember in 9/11, the issue there was 90 West Street. The issue for Sandy for most of the firms downtown was 90 Broad Street. So people had to re-establish communications lines in both situations.