ASX implements automated testing solution

Testing consumed so much time that the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) software team could only develop four product releases a year.

Pressure to improve time-to-market for product releases from the in-house stakeholders escalated and forced the team to introduce automated testing.

Bob Caisley, ASX trading systems national manager, said the regression test phase (the final stage before a product's release) was creating a bottleneck.

Caisley said automated testing has been phased in over two years at a cost of $300,000.

Getting started was the tough part, he said, with the project continually postponed due to the amount of effort required.

"In the end we decided to bite off small chunks at a time, instead of scheduling a very large project. We would have people working on the project one day a week to battle on with automating tests. That way we could get through it slowly," he said.

"Although automation of testing requires an investment in resources, tools and training, it was more realistic to implement a gradual rollout.

"This approach helped us in presenting our case to senior management, as we were able to show the project could be implemented with little or no disruption to business as well as proving a strong return on investment."

For years the software teams were manually testing code and function points to ensure that Seats (Stock Exchange Automated Trading System), which runs the equity, warrants and fixed interest markets, operated at a high availability level.

The Seats real-time trading system updates each of the 35,000 terminals in Australia and overseas an average of 180,000 times a day.

Caisley said automated testing has reduced the regression test phase from a four-week timeframe to a one week and has improved test coverage. "The results are beyond expectations. The number of product releases we do has increased from four to six a year," he said.

The development tools ASX used include Rational Suite TestStudio, a fully integrated set of automated testing tools, and Rational Suite Enterprise, a toolset designed to enhance teamwork and communication, optimise individual productivity, and simplify the adoption of development best practices. An ongoing training and mentoring program to help accelerate the implementation of Rational's solution was also run for staff.

Caisley said target up-time for ASX trading systems had jumped from 99.8 per cent to 99.92 per cent.

Storage

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) has also recently implemented a storage area network (SAN) solution.

Previously using a direct-attached storage solution, ASX wanted to enhance overall server performance, use capacity more efficiently, streamline support and maintenance, and further improve disaster recovery.

Working with its technology partner Compaq, ASX deployed 10 Brocade SilkWorm 2800 fibre-channel switches in a heterogeneous VMS, Tru64 and Solaris environment, connecting Sun servers to 6 terabytes of Compaq storage.

This implementation has enabled a three-to-four times increase in storage capacity with no additional IT support staff.

ASX also implemented a disaster recovery site, using switch 'zoning' and controller-based LUN presentation to control access.

It installed DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) links to the disaster recovery site using pairs of fibres across dissimilar paths.

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