The move to Agile and DevOps continues to be an imperative for organizations that develop and deploy software and want shorter release cycles with reduced risk. There is no longer any doubt that DevOps will help your business get better in many ways. In his recent blog, 5 DevOps trends everyone should get ready for in 2020, author Gaurav Belani states: “Owing to the world of benefits it offers, organizations are gradually adopting DevOps practices at all levels. In fact, owing to its high efficiency and faster deployment, DevOps is shaping the world of software and making its way to the mainstream. As DevOps matures, it continues to change the IT and digital management across the globe.
But while many financial organizations are aggressively automating and integrating payment testing into their DevOps environment; many other companies, both large and small, are searching for ways to get started. The good news is that there are experienced partners who can provide both advice and resources to help.
In the previous posts in this series, Mark Medlin, Paragon’s chief technology officer and co-founder, and Eric Bergemann, Paragon’s director of product development discussed why Continuous Testing is a critical component of a successful DevOps implementation and explored some of the issues associated with legacy application environments.
In the final post in this series, we’ll look at some of the ways that Paragon can help organizations accelerate their DevOps journeys and walk through a few specific case studies.
How does Paragon provide organizations with a jump start on this journey?
MM: If an organization decides to embark on this journey alone, they face a huge start-up challenge. Not only does the effort to build modern test tools require a significant investment of money and resources, it requires years of development effort. And if you build it yourself, you are also stuck with the ongoing support obligation for technology upgrades, security enhancements, card schemes mandates, etc.; whereas when working with a partner like Paragon, our clients get access to software that has been developed and optimized over the past 20+ years. For example, we provide libraries of prepackaged formats that already understand the communications protocols required by many networks, processors and other endpoints.
Building the interface for any of these formats would be a long and complicated process for most organizations, but we already have the libraries of required functions available and attuned to the payment industry. While you can buy off-the-shelf test systems, they don’t have any of the functionality (like encryption key management and payments cryptography) needed to test payments. The library of different formats that we support provides customers with a significant advantage, making it easy to install and deploy the software, removing friction from the process and delivering rapid time to value. Of course, we also provide ongoing support for all of our products.
EB: We have also added open APIs to our applications, enabling customers to easily integrate Paragon tools with other enterprise applications. Automation and integration are at the heart of DevOps and we want to give customers the flexibility and control they need to take full advantage of their DevOps environments.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery require continuous testing because the objective is to deliver quality applications and code to users. Continuous testing is often implemented as a set of automated regression, performance, and other tests that are executed in the CI/CD pipeline.
The payment industry continues to evolve rapidly, forcing our customers to deal with extensive change. That means we also have to update our products more quickly to help clients stay ahead of the curve. We can now provide software releases every two weeks and are working to deliver even faster. With that said, we do still deal with organizations that are deploying software only once or twice a year. While this pace no longer works for us, we can still accommodate these clients until they are ready to start their DevOps journey.
Do you have any customer success stories that you can share?
MM: We are fortunate to count many of the largest and most sophisticated payment organizations in the world as customers. We’ve worked closely for 20 years with some of these companies as we have moved forward on our respective DevOps journeys.
One global card brand needed to improve the time required for new members to get certified on their network. Because of all the manual testing required, the certification process typically took six months or more to complete. Working together to streamline and automate their certification environment, we have reduced their certification time to a few days – and continue to improve it even further. In addition to the significant reduction in certification time, the automated environment provides much better visibility into the certification process. We've also integrated with the client’s single sign-on environment, making it easy for them to bring new accounts onto their network and providing virtually unlimited testing bandwidth.
EB: We've recently commissioned a system for an international client that uses our “Virtual Host” functionality. Virtual Host adds intelligent routing, data validation, and automated responses to transaction testing in a “set it and forget it” scenario. Virtual Host is an always-on facility that enables internal and external users to access specific test scenarios 24 hours a day via a web browser. The Paragon system also integrates at the API level with the client’s enterprise level Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) system that is used to manage all of their requirements, tests, and issues.
Of course, the end of support for Windows 7 has been a hot topic for us. Over the past year we have successfully helped several large financial institutions with their Windows 10 ATM migrations. The interesting thing here is that by virtualizing functional ATM testing, which has historically been a very manual process, we can help integrate those tests directly into a client’s DevOps environment, allowing the organization to easily automate and integrate this aspect of their payments testing.
What would you say is the primary reason for organizations to choose Paragon to help them move toward a DevOps environment?
MM: As I said earlier, there are no silver bullets here, no cookie cutter approach to success. We recognize that each client is different, and we work hard to provide each organization with robust product functionality, seamless integration capabilities and superior support. Among the key drivers for moving to DevOps are improving your time to value and increasing the speed at which you can deliver products and services to the marketplace. With our own successful DevOps experience, we can assist customers no matter where they are on their journey and help them realize the full benefit from their own DevOps implementation.
Delivering high-quality software fast is no longer a luxury — it is a prerequisite for digital success and mandatory for customer loyalty and acquisition.
No matter where your organization is on its DevOps journey, Paragon can help. If you’d like to talk about how automation, integration and Continuous Testing can reduce delivery timeframes, increase testing accuracy and improve profitability, contact us to learn more.
Mark Medlin is one of the co-founders of Paragon Application Systems and currently serves in the role of Chief Technical Officer. Mark has been instrumental in the design and development of Paragon's entire product suite, the introduction and implementation of Agile software development, as well as the drive toward DevOps. Mark is a graduate of North Carolina State University.
Eric Bergemann is the Director of Product Development and a Master Engineer at Paragon. He has been with the company since 2003 and has been involved with the design, development and support of Paragon’s Next Gen testing solutions since their inception. Eric is a student of technologies and processes that facilitate efficiency and quality in all aspects of the software development lifecycle. He has a degree in Computer Science from Campbell University.
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