BankWest reduces downtime with mainframe testing tool

Trawling through code to identify errors is painful

In a bid to reduce application downtime, Perth-based BankWest has introduced a new tool to analyse and debug mission critical mainframe applications prior to deployment.

BankWest has employed Compuware's Xpediter/CICS and Abend-Aid solutions to support the company's full-service banking business.

BankWest relies on the high performance of its mainframe applications to deliver a superior service to its customers and as a result it is critical the development team identifies software errors and undertakes corrections during testing, not after it goes into production.

The financial organization was already using Compuware's Xpediter/TSO for debugging PL/I batch programs, so it was logical to look to Compuware for a tool to debug CICS applications.

The new tool allows BankWest to solve compatibility issues it couldn't identify previously.

In the past the BankWest development team relied on the painful process of trawling through many lines of application code to identify the location of errors and adding diagnostic messages to the program.

The main disadvantage of this method was the need to compile the program an additional two times at the very least -- once to add the diagnostics and secondly to remove them once the problem was fixed.

The manual nature of this task meant it could take several hours at a time.

In addition to presenting a resourcing issue, the situation also presented a major business problem.

BankWest simply couldn't afford any application downtime and needed to be as pro-active as possible to prevent coding problems.

According to application services manager, John Beedeison, the goal was to ensure the system worked first time, every time.

"As a banking IT system, we needed to be able to quickly identify and resolve system faults to ensure that the data held on the mainframe remained unaffacted," Beedeison said.

"We also had to manage operational infrastructure and make sure customer and account management information was unaffected."

Alongside Xpediter/CICS, BankWest also acquired Compuware's Abend-Aid, which when used in tandem with Xpediter provides diagnostics to quickly identify problems and find the cause.

Used together, Xpediter and Abend-Aid have enabled the developers to quickly identify which line(s) of code was causing problems and virtually eliminate the need to resort to the slow manual methods traditionally used.

With improved problem resolution capacity coding efficiency was maximised and fewer errors occurred post-production.

BankWest also acquired Strobe, Compuware's application performance and rresource consumption monitor to help pi point what components of a transaction consume the most CPU.

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