Bloomberg blames 'faulty hardware' for data terminal outage

Market data firm says it will investigate failure of multiple redundant systems

bloomberg terminal

A Bloomberg terminal is seen inside a kiosk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. An outage at news and market data provider Bloomberg LP hit financial markets around the world on Friday, prompting debt sales to be postponed and exacerbating a spike in volatility in European stocks.

Credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Bloomberg blamed a "combination of hardware and software failures" for a two-hour outage that affected users of its popular data and messaging terminals.

The problems, which began at 8:20 am (3:20 a.m. EDT) Friday, prevented thousands of traders and investors from carrying out trading activity. The company said it identified the cause of the outage as related to an unspecified hardware fault, but that systems are "fully restored," a Bloomberg spokesperson said.

"We experienced a combination of hardware and software failures in the network, which caused an excessive volume of network traffic," the spokesperson said in an email statement. "This led to customer disconnections as a result of the machines being overwhelmed. We discovered the root cause quickly, isolated the faulty hardware, and restarted the software."

The company said it will conduct a review of its multiple redundant systems, which "failed to prevent this disruption." Further details on the nature of the fault were unavailable.

Earlier in the day, many of Bloomberg's users in Europe and Asia took to Twitter to vent their frustrations at the technical problems affecting their terminals.

The market data company says it has more than 315,000 subscribers that use its Bloomberg Professional terminals at a cost of $24,000 per terminal per year. The terminals provide real-time financial information as well as chat services to traders and investors.

However, customers of the service have become increasingly discontent with the cost of the service, while a scandal around Bloomberg journalists being able to track the movements of traders in 2013 dented its reputation.

Ovum financial services analyst, Rik Turner, said that while the outage is "obviously an extremely serious matter" for Bloomberg, it is unlikely that it will result in an end to its terminals being the preferred platform for the majority of financial firms.

"It has held a seemingly unassailable position in the capital markets for decades because, much as the banks and brokerages buying it may have balked at its prices or some of its commercial practices, the actual end users, i.e. the traders themselves, love its terminals," Turner said.

"They know their way round them so well, so there is inertia in their attachment to them that has proven all but impossible to disrupt. Even the scandal surrounding Bloomberg's allowing its journalists to track the movements of traders on their terminals for story leads was something that upset the banks themselves far more than the traders," he said.

Nevertheless, Bloomberg will have to avoid further technical issues if this customer loyalty is not to be eroded in the future.

Turner added: "This is far from being the seminal moment when Bloomberg's fortunes changed, but the onus is clearly upon the company to avoid it being seen, in retrospective, as the moment when they started changing."

This story, "Bloomberg blames 'faulty hardware' for data terminal outage" was originally published by Computerworld UK.