The Pandemic Gives Nasdaq’s Move to the Cloud a New Sense of Urgency

The company is planning to move all 28 of its markets to public cloud infrastructure.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

September 17, 2020

2 Min Read
Nasdaq building in Times Square
Nasdaq building in Times SquareRick Gershon/Getty Images

Add Nasdaq to the list of enterprises for whom the pandemic provided a clear case study of the public cloud’s advantages over on-premises data centers during an unexpected traffic surge.

The exchange operator’s US and Canadian data warehouse is hosted in AWS. In March, when the spike in demand for market data drove traffic on its network in the US to daily peaks that were more than twice the previous record, the data warehouse handled them fine, Brad Peterson, Nasdaq’s CTO and CIO, recently told The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, staff at the company’s own data centers that host the Nasdaq Stock Market, scrambled to increase the exchange’s capacity manually. “It just demonstrated how much more difficult it is to [add] capacity when you’re relying on a traditional infrastructure versus cloud,” Peterson said.

Nasdaq had already been planning to move all 28 of its markets in North America and Europe from its own data centers to the cloud before the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis validated the plan.

The company will move a portion of the markets over the next five years and expects to have them all running in the cloud over the next decade, Peterson told The Journal.

“The real benefit is the ability to scale and introduce new features,” he said.

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The crystallization of the cloud’s value brought on by the pandemic and the lockdowns is familiar by now. Technology leaders from companies including Netflix, Zoom, and BlueJeans by Verizon have credited public cloud for their ability to handle the massive shifts in traffic patterns brought on by the crisis relatively painlessly.

Those three had already made public cloud a core part of their infrastructure strategy. For companies like Nasdaq, who have dabbled in cloud by hosting only a few of their workloads there, the crisis is sure to serve as an accelerator of their transition to either fully public cloud or hybrid strategies.

From The Journal’s article:

Mr. Peterson and Nasdaq Chief Executive Adena Friedman meet every two weeks with various business units and cross-functional groups to make sure their cloud efforts are accelerating this year.

The cloud can be scalable to any level of activity and accessible by users from anywhere in the world, which is becoming more important now, Ms. Friedman said in an April earnings call. “We view that to be even more critical in a world that likely considers a much wider spectrum of business continuity scenarios than it ever has before,” she said on the call.

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