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Rethinking Timekeeping for Modern IT Solutions



Son VoBa, Charles L. Ulland, Michael A. Lombardi, Arno Lentfer


Advances in processor performance and virtualization technologies, together with complexities of operating systems (OS) and software defined networking, have outpaced legacy network-based solutions for keeping system clocks accurate across geographic locations-in cloud-space and on- premises. Computer time accuracy with respect to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is now being codified and enforced by recently adopted regulatory requirements in the financial services sector for governance, risk mitigation, and demonstration of compliance. These factors necessitate a re-thinking of time keeping for modern IT solutions. In this paper, we describe our technical approach to make a UTC-accurate computer system clock a fundamental platform capability that is independent from other OS subsystems such as networking. We will also share a series of lessons learnt from building industry standard hardware interfaces to keep general-purpose computing platforms and their virtual machines UTC-accurate, and from our collaboration with industry partners Microsoft and selected server vendors to implement traceability to UTC via the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for modern IT solutions. We will conclude with our thoughts on how the full complement of Global Positioning System (GPS) positioning data in addition to accurate time keeping would further benefit IT solutions of the future.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the 2019 Precise Time and Time Interval Meeting (PTTI)
Conference Dates
January 28-31, 2019
Conference Location
Reston, VA, US
Conference Title
2019 Precise Time and Time Interval Meeting (PTTI)


calibration, synchronization, traceability


VoBa, S. , Ulland, C. , Lombardi, M. and Lentfer, A. (2019), Rethinking Timekeeping for Modern IT Solutions, Proceedings of the 2019 Precise Time and Time Interval Meeting (PTTI), Reston, VA, US (Accessed July 17, 2024)


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Created January 28, 2019, Updated April 27, 2023