Sponsored Article: Validata — Integrating digital with legacy systems

Validata is a niche player that specialises in banking software testing. At the core of its platform solution is automation based on processes common to most banking platforms. QA-Financial met with Vaios Vaitsis (pictured), Validata’s founder and CEO, to find out more.

This sponsored article was prepared for Validata by QA-Financial.com.

Validata is a niche player that specialises in banking software testing. At the core of its platform solution is automation based on processes common to most banking platforms. QA-Financial met with Vaios Vaitsis, Validata’s founder and CEO, to find out more.

When Vaios Vaitsis founded Validata in 2004, banks were a long way behind the curve of software development. Burdened by their mainframe IT infrastructures and their patchworks of legacy systems serving their different customer markets, they were locked into a conservative mindset. Retailers, games and healthcare companies, the military and other public sectors were all running well ahead of financial firms in terms of software development and quality assurance.

Vaios Vaitsis: Founder and CEO, Validata

Vaios Vaitsis: Founder and CEO, Validata

What has changed? The opportunities are so great, they can no longer be ignored. “There is enormous pressure on banks to drive down transaction costs and to keep pace with the revolution in mobile banking and e-commerce,” says Vaitsis. “The cry is for real time information and embedded analytics that will enable banks to compete with their new competitors — the technology disrupters including online banks run by the retail companies. Those competitors do not have 20-year old or 30-year old legacy systems and they can start out with continuous app delivery.”

“Older banks simply can’t do that with their existing back-end and they are faced with the challenge of how to adopt a consistent approach to testing across multiple channels of engagement. They cannot integrate digital with legacy systems. This is a real issue both in terms of technology and culture. ”

Validata SAS

Validata is a specialist in banking IT and the automation of software testing is at the core of its platform. Its flagship product is Validata SAS, a suite of tools that supports end-to-end automated testing for integration and upgrade products. Validata SAS is the first unified test automation and DevOps platform, built from the ground up with Agile in mind, to streamline application lifecycle management by hosting — in the cloud if required — test automation for all the key app development processes, including test virtualisation. Validata partners with Temenos, the Geneva-based core banking platform provider that counts many of the world’s leading banks among its customers.

“We specialise in banking, and the heart of what we do is provide pre-built, reusable content in the form of test management for the 70% or so key processes that banks have to perform,” explains Vaitsis.

“The technology we offer is embedded in that test management content, but the key thing I would ask banks to consider is that there are huge opportunities if they understand what they have in common when it comes to those standard processes that they share. Banks like to believe they handle standard processes such as financial transactions in very different ways. But the fact is that in the context of testing the differences far outweigh the similarities.”

“While the focus of most testing companies has been to test the systems of engagements and mobile technologies, our focus is on testing the back end of these systems, which is the most difficult task.”

Validata’s library of test management content is delivered through the company’s core product suite: Validata SAS. It’s a platform, says Vaitsis, that enables customers to design and run their test cases using an automated model-based scriptless approach that is up to ten times more productive than traditional manual and script-based testing tools.

Energy Lessons

Understanding that simple opportunity of a dramatic improvement in test efficiency requires a leap that has so far been taken by only a handful of major banks. But Vaitsis has witnessed similar change in another industry. Prior to his move into financial IT, he had built business specialising in software development for energy companies. One of his major clients in the 1990s was BP. Vaitsis recalls: “This was a time when BP was restructuring. It was getting out of capital-intensive engineering projects because it did not need to be in that business. It was simplifying things, from the design specifications of offshore oil rigs to its requirements for pumps, so that these assets could be built and delivered more quickly. The chairman of BP at the time, Lord Browne, saw no reason why it should take three years to build an offshore facility. By standardising and simplifying the construction process and the supply chain the time could be cut to a year. Seeing this principle at work was an incredible learning experience for me.”

It was also a time, in the wake of the July 1998 Piper Alpha fire disaster which killed 167 workers, when the oil industry was also being forced to automate processes for ensuring health and safety, a change which required a new approach to data management and the testing of IT systems.

The pressures for change in banking are obviously different. But now, more than ever, there are lessons to be learned from other industries about the how to allocate resources for fundamental restructuring of technology platforms.

“The situation now is that even leading international banks are spending tens of millions of dollars on core banking platforms and then handing the management of those platform to in-house operational staff who are not sufficiently experienced or resourced to realise the potential of those platforms,” says Vaitsis.

“Upgrading is considered a big risk and the experience and knowledge required for testing the upgrade is either not available or not there.” Vaitsis adds. “However, it is possible to de-risk and accelerate the upgrade process by using automation and then monitoring the new release on a 24/7 basis.”

Products in detail

So, let’s examine in more detail the suite of testing tools included in the Validata SAS platform. There’s the Validata Advanced Testing Suite (ATS), which is an automated testing platform designed for enterprise testing of the TemenosT24 software stack and substantially reducing the overall project cost while improving functional quality.

Validata ATS is a solution hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud platform that is suited to even the largest banks, whose development teams are dealing with lengthy test cycles and are seeking to create an environment of continuous app testing and continuous delivery with an agile management framework. It drives quality and velocity for Devops-oriented or traditional development teams showing 10 times overall productivity improvements over siloed QA tools. Validata ATS supports all forms of testing, including regression testing, unit testing, and load testing.

Validata ATS is integrated with Validata360º, which is an application lifecycle management analytics platform that automatically collects data from all the tools used in the app delivery process and turns them into actionable dashboards that can be shared across QA and DevOps teams.

Also within the ATS suite is the Validata’s Test Data Generator, which is a complete test data management solution that allows customers to source ‘fit for purpose’ data from files, databases, or from scratch for use in non-production environments.

A new launch in May 2016 during the Temenos Community Forum in Barcelona is Validata’s new Software Analytics platform, which includes application performance management (APM), operational intelligence and QA intelligence for quality assurance and DevOps initiatives.

There is every reason for banks that have yet to fully engage with test automation to begin now. The bottom line is that model-based testing with Validata’s ATS can be 10 times more productive and more efficient, says Vaitsis.

It’s not just a question of cost savings, however, but strategic priorities. “The digitisation of everything makes businesses vulnerable to greater risks,” says Vaitsis. “So in 2016, the importance of security will continue to grow, especially with businesses now allowing more and more access to sensitive data from their websites.”

“Cloud and software-as-as-service models are emerging and being elevated by banks from ‘just a feature’ to an important part of the infrastructure. With all these challenges rising, banks need an effective way to manage their huge volumes of data, and the most likely trend going forward is the merger of test data management with service virtualisation to further speed up testing processes.”

“And looking beyond this year, agile is the way financial firms have to go,” says Vaitsis. “Continuous testing needs to happen real time and in an agile manner to ensure quality products are delivered.”

And what about Validata’s own development plans? “Our upcoming projects include testing for the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile testing, service visualisation and release automation, test analytics and more.” says Vaitsis. “Our goal is to enable our clients to implement, simulate and test systems that conventional virtualisation fails to address. We want to offer the best Dev-Test-Ops solutions our clients can buy.”

For more information on how Validata testing products can enable fully end-to-end quality performance management in your software projects, visit www.validata-software.com.

And you can contact Vaios Vaitsis at: vaios.vaitsis@validata-software.com

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