Software vendor platform of the year — Calypso Technology’s CATT

Automated testing for complex banking environments

The San Francisco-based trading and risk systems became the first capital markets software vendor to offer an automated testing platform for its product. Standard Bank of South Africa was the first major customer.

Testing software and apps has become progressively more difficult and time-consuming for banks. Aside from the growing number of legacy systems that require an interface, there is also a growing bureaucratic and compliance requirement. That translates into more stakeholders in the procurement and approval processes for software development — including stakeholders who have varying degrees of technical understanding of the process and the products.

For vendors of trading and risk systems, this can be frustrating. Testing requirements can change from upgrade to upgrade. Implementation times are stretched. Furthermore, some customers are rooted in manual testing processes. All good reasons behind the 2015 launch by Calypso Technology of its Calypso Automated Testing Tool (CATT), which it is establishing as the foundation for testing by its 180 customers of its new releases and upgrades.

Before it adopted CATT for testing, Standard Bank was one of those customers largely dependent on manual testing, said Vishay Soogreem, Standard Bank’s Johannesburg-based quality assurance manager. And because Calypso supports applications for front, middle and back offices in Standard’s capital markets, investment management and risk management divisions, as well as clearing collateral management and treasury functions, upgrading Calypso is a very lengthy process.

“After we conducted the version 13 upgrade, Calypso came back to us and told us that they had built a tool that can help with testing going forward. This was the CATT,” said Soogreem. “A plan was put in place to create a proof of concept, and Standard Bank defined the scope going forward.”

Standard Bank began using CATT for automated testing in May 2015; and has first been using it for its Calypso platform for foreign exchange and money markets dealing in the Africa region. Next, the bank plans to use CATT across fixed income and derivatives.

It wasn’t just that testing a complex system such as Calypso was time-consuming in a manual environment, said Soogreem. Only small areas of the core functionalities could be tested thoroughly. Major upgrades were simply becoming unfeasible. Standard Bank is not only planning to use CATT for those upgrades, but also monthly deployments and regular stability tests.

For Calypso, CATT — which was designed by Peter Monz, its Frankfurt-based director of automated testing — is now seen as the foundation for all its implementation and upgrade projects. The firm decided to build CATT from scratch because it wanted full control of its product. The platform includes a suite of pre-configured test cases based on common business logic deployed on a web interface, and it is available as an integral part of Calypso Testing Services, its managed services offering, based in Dublin.

“The way we look at it is that CATT is developed by Calypso for Calypso,” said Soogreem. “There are many automation tools out there, but if you have a tool created specifically for Calypso that is a big plus. Previously we did not have an automation tool, we relied on executing trades on Calypso itself to see if it functioned correctly.”

Standard Bank’s story tracks the story of CATT from the very start. Calypso’s Peter Monz worked on the bank’s 2013 upgrade prior to joining Calypso and developing the project. So naturally enough Standard Bank became the first major customer. “It was the first time we had conducted testing on such a large scale,” said Monz.

CATT tooling is upgraded in lockstep with Calypso banking platforms. Currently CATT supports versions 10 to 15.1 and all upcoming versions. When a client upgrades their version of Calypso, they can reuse pre-existing test cases from the prior version. “As long as there are no business concept changes in your test scenarios, CATT will be able to use them. That gives you a lot of benefits as maintenance costs are kept low,” said Monz.

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