Euro-zone central bank

achieves ‘invisible’ upgrade

It’s business-as-usual for client, as remote delivery and test automation paves way for smooth, secure and rigorous patch upgrade.

Challenges

A major European central banking client wanted to implement a purely technical patch upgrade of its Wallstreet Suite (WSS) 7.4, largely for information security reasons and to reengineer legacy CSDs.

SkySparc was already working with the client on a number of functional projects, including some related to its services as a subcustodian to non-Euro-zone central banks. The services were provided under a support and maintenance agreement which allowed the client to scale up and down according to need. The bank also used OmniFi for a wide range of data management and reporting processes, including to enable a strategically important data warehouse project.

Because the upgrade was focused solely of technical changes, the central bank was interested in using SkySparc’s Patch Upgrade as-a-Service (PUaaS) model, which combines highly automated testing processes with a tried-and-tested upgrade methodology to minimize project risk and timelines and increase project efficiency and reusability.

Solution part 1: Installation and migration

Once SkySparc was selected to manage the upgrade using its PUaaS methodology, the first steps were for the central bank to provide the necessary documentation and access to its test environment, to enable SkySparc’s consultants to devise the project structure.

In this pre-phase, the two parties agreed on the scope of the project. SkySparc conducted the project and resource planning as well as drafting the master test plan, which defines all the test cases per each test phase, based on client requirements. The client decided on the number of test cases per instrument and per business line, requiring choices to be made about the events and currencies that would be tested.

At this stage, SkySparc also gathered further information from stakeholders across the central bank, by setting up a series of workshops. Roles and expectations were defined, with both parties providing project management, testing, functional and technical skills at various stages. Although the overwhelming majority of SkySparc’s responsibilities were executed offsite, the client requested members of the project team be available onsite during the testing phases.

The next two phases of the project introduced all the new technology required to complete the project and move mission-critical business processes with minimal disruption to business as usual. In the installation phase, infrastructure is put in place before the new WSS is plugged into the client’s test environment. Once completed, SkySparc also implemented an upgrade to OmniFi to ensure its optimal use as a testing tool for the project.

As well as migration, the migration phase focuses on business configuration, setting up the new WSS version to carry out required functions and interact seamlessly with multiple other systems on a daily basis within the treasury department of the central bank. This phase also involves interface and CSD conversion, adapting these to the new version.

Solution part 2: Testing

In line with its focus on information security, the client required SkySparc to deliver a comprehensive testing phase. This included unit testing, system integration testing, performance testing, failover testing, penetration testing, user acceptance testing (UAT), dressrehearsal testing and go-live testing.

The first task for SkySparc was to create test packages within OmniFi. During the test package build, the main functionality and key applications were also tested, in order to identify any problems with the basic installation and upgrade.

The project then moved to the unit test, one of the major testing elements, during which each individual function of the system is tested comprehensively, by gradually increasing the complexity of the test packages. This phase included close to one thousand individual test cases, which were highly automated via OmniFi, to ensure the smooth running of every function used by the client on a daily basis.

During the system integration test phase, the testing of these individual functions was extended to provide confirmation that the new system was handling business processes correctly, including adjacent systems. The client selected test cases modeled on business processes for the most frequently-used instrument types.

This phase was followed by performance testing, which sets a benchmark for the upgraded system to ensure it is comparable with the version it replaced. The client then required SkySparc to conduct a failover test, to ensure a production-like environment could be established within an acceptable timeframe in the event of a production failure. SkySparc then carried out a penetration test, which simulates a cyber-attack to evaluate the new system’s security capabilities.

For the UAT support phase, the client’s team drafted the plan, including selection of test cases, with input from business users. UAT was achieved in two weeks, with SkySparc picking up issues and resolving them within a matter of days. In the last week before the go-live, the client included buffer days for re-testing to ensure issues flagged during UAT had been fully addressed.

Once testing was finalized, the project moved to its go-live phase, including dress rehearsal for go-live, for final verification of the system’s readiness. This included go-live preparation, production installation and environment synchronization, then go-live migration and testing, before the client took the final go-live decision.

SkySparc then embarked on the provision of post go-live support with the handover of the system and all necessary documentation about the patch upgrade to the client.

OmniFi was an indispensable part of the project from a test automation and data integration perspective, but also as a project management tool. OmniFi’s Autotest provided a summary of test cases across various phases, enabling the project team to identify status at a glance. It also provided a detailed audit trail, reporting and documenting each phase of each test, including identification of who had approved any particular test result, which saved on manual effort.

The smoothness of this patch upgrade has given us the confidence to undertake upgrades much more regularly in future. As well as the rigor of the methodology and the automation provided by OmniFi, effective remote communication by SkySparc was crucial to its success.

Project Manager, Central Bank

Results

The project came in on time and on budget and achieved high levels of client satisfaction.

Although the project was completed using onsite support from our consultants, almost all the collaboration and communication was conducted offsite. Further, SkySparc has now proved that it is possible to conduct a patch upgrade on a fully remote basis.

The client was pleased to have confirmed its belief that patch upgrades should no longer be regarded as rare, unwanted, one-time projects, rather an essential element of maintenance and development. Use of the comprehensive quality assured methodology provided by SkySparc via PUaaS puts the client in an ideal position for low risk, highly cost-effective patch upgrades in the future.