NAB updates testing infrastructure extending user support

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has completed an upgrade of its core testing infrastructure which has grown to support three times as many users as it did two years ago.

Geoff Lyall, NAB's head of tools support, said the bank has a three-tier model for application support - the infrastructure team that looks after support of hardware, databases, and the network; local administrators that do specific workflow and maintenance of any project; and his team which looks after application support and maintenance.

"When users break things we fix it," Lyall said. "The advantage of this model is we don't have to do everything so the team is a lot smaller, but the disadvantage is it's hard to maintain control to keep standards in place."

The bank's application support Web site provides contact numbers and sends alerts via e-mail and SMS to users in the event of outages.

The increasing popularity of the bank's application testing platform was the key driver for upgrading Mercury's Test Director 7.6 to the new generation Quality Centre 8.1. The number of registered users grew from 2000 in 2004 to 6000 this year, and the number of projects rose from 50 to 250 during the same period.

The application was migrated to a new Windows 2003 system with 250GB of NAS storage and around 200GB of data in an Oracle database. The new system is now in full disaster recovery mode and is tested every three months and is "usually up and running within six hours of a disaster recovery event".

There are now about 280 projects which raise more than 300,000 test cases, 350,000 test sets, and some 400,000 test runs.

Lyall said there are a few challenges for the future, including treating test tools as production applications in the organization.

"We're getting more formal with how they are treated [and] more formal capacity planning and monitoring," he said. "We also want more formal SLAs that define to our users what to expect."

The bank doesn't have the dashboard implemented yet, but is writing perl scripts and excel macros to generate reports. The business process testing module is also yet to be done.

Lyall's colleague Lin Sun said the benefits of a migration approach was that downtime was minimized.

"E-mail was regularly broadcast to all users [and] the most common problem was misinformed users," Sun said.

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