Nationwide: We did no live testing before online bank re-launch

Nationwide has revealed that it was able to successfully re-launch its internet banking website based solely on testing in a virtual environment.

The achievement comes as NatWest and RBS were still struggling to clear a backlog of work caused by a major failure following an upgrade last week.

The world’s largest building society re-launched its internet banking website six months ago, giving the 10-year-old service a much-needed refresh.

“We haven’t had a single performance-related defected since the six months’ launch. That was done against a virtualised service and it’s gone live and worked,” Andy Armstrong, head of technical testing at Nationwide, told the CA Expo event in London yesterday.

Nationwide started looking at refreshing its internet banking site two years ago, which it found to be “clunky” and “difficult to maintain”.

“There are about 36 systems we integrate with to provide the [internet] bank to our customers. We had to do performance testing against the environments [but] to do testing in a real environment would have been expensive – it needs a lot of resources,” said Armstrong.

The company ended up using CA’s service virtualisation product LISA in order to carry out the testing in a virtual environment, though it took some convincing of the business, Armstrong said.

“[One of the challenges was] convincing people this was the way to go – that we could put a new bank live without testing it in a real-time banking environment.

“We started with baby steps, creating web interfaces, and made videos to show how we can scale up.”

Another issue that Nationwide needed to overcome was to find people with ICL mainframe skills, as some of its systems were based on these, to help implement the Java-based LISA tool.

Nonetheless, the successful re-launch of the website means that LISA is being used in other projects in the company.

Nationwide has used LISA in about 10 percent of the 120 projects it is currently running at the building society, and is hoping to extend the use of LISA to the application building division, to speed up the overall application development lifecycle.

“We want to enable the [app] building group to improve quality, so that it reduces the testing stage,” Armstrong said.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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