Royal Bank of Scotland is investigating how it could extend a virtual test environment to support future development projects.
The environment, built using IBM Rational Integration Tester, was initially used to ensure the bank's systems would be able to cope with a new currency if Greece was forced to leave the euro.
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Speaking at an IBM Innovate 2013 event in London, Stephen King, head of middleware at RBS Markets, said the bank deployed the test suite to virtualise Swift (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) transactions to ensure it would be easy to make code changes to support a new currency had Greece defaulted.
"We built a virtualised Swift [payment] system environment in Rational to test changes with the new currency," said King.
He said such a virtual test environment could save the bank a considerable amount in terms of transaction fees in the future, since it avoids testing using the real Swift service.
The bank has spent the past three years building a test methodology on top of the Rational toolset.
The project began when the bank needed to consolidate its four messaging hubs. The hubs are critical to RBS's business by enabling payment and confirmation messages, clearing services and supporting regulatory compliance. They handle two million messages a day, amounting to £900m per week.
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King admitted there was a climate of fear attached to changing the bank's messaging middleware. But the middleware messaging platform was one of several projects the middleware team needed to deliver.
"We needed to consolidate [messaging middleware] within three years and deliver 35 major business change projects, including rewiring the Forex [foreign exchange] business system," he said.
Software development improvements
The bank also needed to improve its software development in terms of improving quality. "We wanted to instil quality right through the project and have a test strategy," he said.
The bank adapted a software development lifecycle for middleware and took on middleware experts who were trained in the methodology.
"We selected IBM Rational Integration Test and piloted a payment compliance application which had to be delivered quickly to prevent the bank facing £5m fines," said King.
Using Rational and the new methodology, the developer team was able to deliver the application in six weeks.
Following the success of the payment application, King said RBS rolled out the methodology and toolset across all the projects the team was working on.
Prior to deploying Rational and the software development methodology, King said regression testing used to take four weeks. It now takes a couple of hours, he said, saving the bank £40,000 in project costs.