Over the past 50 years, the ATM has evolved from being a simple, single purpose cash dispensing device to become a high-profile and mission critical delivery channel for financial services. Every hour of every day, millions of consumers around the world depend on ATMs. Through the years, the humble cash dispenser has changed in virtually every way to arrive at its present form. But even after all the rapid growth, technological progress and social transformation, the ATM channel is more dynamic than ever.
At the 2018 ATMIA USA conference in Las Vegas, I heard several senior industry resources say that they have never seen as much change taking place within the ATM channel as they see today. The Next Generation ATM initiative sponsored by ATMIA is a direct response to the increasing rate of change and the need to make fundamental changes in order to ensure that the ATM channel remains relevant and profitable.
Virtualization is the Key to Advancing Your ATM Testing Practice
One of the most significant improvements that can be made in the way organizations test their ATMs is through virtualization. Most financial service providers have already made significant investments in virtualizing their IT infrastructure and for good reason – it makes sense. Virtualization provides several key benefits that can and should be extended to the ATM channel:
- Flexibility: Virtualized machines can be configured and reconfigured to perform whatever testing needs to be done at any time. Virtual ATM images are easily built and stored for use whenever and wherever they are required.
- Accessibility: Virtual ATMs are available to developers, testers and QA staff anywhere on the planet. No more flying staff from remote locations to test labs, or even worse, moving ATMs out of one lab and into another halfway around the world.
- Efficiency: Virtualization, automation and integration all lead to improved efficiency. Test coverage greatly increases, while resources are freed up to perform higher value tasks.
- Security and control: Centralized and server-based command and control facilities for administration of the virtualized environment means that management also knows who is using the system and what they are doing.
Taking Virtualization to the Next Level
Moving to a virtualized environment for ATM testing provides a platform for building additional capabilities. Here at Paragon, our VirtualATM® solution has been developed to provide clients with several unique benefits:
- Fault testing: The VirtualATM platform allows validation of the entire ATM software stack through the XFS layer, providing visibility to XFS commands and messages that were not previously visible. This means that a wide variety of ATM fault conditions related to card readers, PIN Pads, note dispensers, etc. can be tested without risk of damage to physical ATMs. No more staples and tape on notes or failed experiments that result in damaged and out of service machines in the test lab. The VirtualATM simulator includes a significant number of pre-configured fault conditions out of the box, as well as the ability for users to configure their own fault scenarios.
- Automation: VirtualATM allows test scripts to be recorded and scheduled for playback whenever it is convenient. Complete regression test sets can be set to run overnight with the results delivered to testers the next morning.
- Integration: Via an open API, VirtualATM can be integrated with enterprise test platforms, such as an Application Lifecycle Management tool. VATM tests can even be initiated remotely through the API. Many organizations have started their move toward Agile, Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Testing (CT), Continuous Deployment (CD), and DevOps. VirtualATM can play a significant role in easing this transition for the ATM channel.
The Only Constant is Change
Despite all the growth and success over the past 50 years, the ATM industry is currently under siege. Significant efforts are underway to replace cash and mobile everything will continue to drive consumer behavior. Additionally, the US ATM marketplace is at or near the saturation point. This means less growth, lower margins and more competition. Speed and efficiency will be key to survival over the next few years.
ATM security will continue to be an issue on several fronts. From a cybersecurity perspective, ATMs continue to be vulnerable to certain types of hacks and attacks, especially when they are not running the most current version of OS or protective mechanisms. Complete, accurate, and timely testing are keys to avoiding the front-page news.
And who could forget the looming migration to Windows 10. This is going to be a painful exercise and a lot of work for little forward motion. It is definitely not too early to start planning now for this upcoming event. A good way to start making forward progress towards Windows 10 would be to inventory and virtualize all your Windows 7 machines.
The good news is that you are not defenseless, there is a much better way to test ATMs than what we had 50 years ago. VirtualATM is a part of Paragon’s comprehensive suite of Next Generation testing applications that are designed specifically to help our clients in the financial services community deal with the ever-increasing rate of change. Built on our server-based Web FASTest architecture, VirtualATM is a testing platform that can help your organization deal with change more quickly, completely and cost effectively so that you can be successful for another 50 years.