Nasdaq Systems Had Issues Handling Facebook IPO

When there were issues with the Facebook IPO launch on Friday, it was a huge embarrassment to Nasdaq

When Facebook’s highly anticipated IPO ended on Friday, to some it was a big dud, especially when backers had to prop up the stock to keep it from falling below its initial offering price. Steven J. Vaughan Nichols writing on ZDNet went so far as to suggest it was a disaster for stock buyers, but new reports surfaced over the weekend that the problems might have been related to a glitch in the trading system, which apparently couldn’t handle the trading volume.

The Wall Street Journal reported that there was a 30 minute delay before the trading could even begin and then there was trouble catching up throughout the day, delays which might have caused some big investors to back out of buying the stock.

This is yet another lesson about making sure your systems or your web site can handle the whatever the public throws at it — and in this case, Nasdaq had to be prepared for a total traffic onslaught. In fact, Nasdaq thought it could handle it, but it turned out there were problems that left the exchange embarrassed — as the WSJ and other news outlets reported.

Robert Greifeld, chief executive at Nasdaq told reporters that the Facebook IPO was not Nasdaq’s finest hour, yet it wasn’t for lack of pre-IPO system testing. As you would expect, Nasdaq knew this was going to be a monster day for the exchange, possibly putting more pressure on its trading systems than in an single day before.

For IT Pros, this is another case of not tuning the systems to handle volume, even when you knew the volume was coming. We’ve certainly seen it before with web sites that have been crushed under the volume of visitors, anticipated or not.

It shows that sometimes no matter how much you test your systems, and even when you think you know what’s coming, you can still can get caught without the proper resources to handle whatever you are doing — whether that’s launching a new web site or a huge IPO.

When your glitch is as public as this one and causes embarrassment all around, it’s even worse of course. For most of you, you’ll probably hear about it from your internal business resources if something goes terribly wrong, but it’s not likely to be splashed across every major business and technology publication for all the world to see as this one was.

Regardless, you need to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to you, so the next time you have a major launch that’s going to test the very limits of your system, make sure you test those limits (as Netflix does regularly with its set of “Monkey” test tools)  before the event.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, things go wrong, but if you have a good pre-launch testing plan at least you can sleep better knowing you did everything within your power to make sure it went off well. If not, when things go wrong, you’ll be looking for cover.

Photo Credit:  PashaIgnatov | iStock Photo.

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