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Iosif Itkin, Exactpro, on how automation is going to revolutionise testing
1/ How did you build your business originally and how did the acquisition of Exactpro by LSEG come about?
At the end of 2009, Alexey Zverev and I launched Exactpro by recruiting ten core specialists who we had previously worked with, and who had very strong technical and subject matter backgrounds. The team had a vision of what we needed to do in order to successfully test the complex technology systems and platforms underpinning the financial markets. We were committed to rapidly turning this vision into reality. Within months of launching the company, the Exactpro team succeeded in developing a diverse set of tools for automated testing, such as a multi-protocol functional test automation tool, a simple but extremely powerful load injector, and also a tool for conducting passive testing to help with exchange client on-boarding and certification. As well as the strength of the tools we use, I believe that the key to success for Exactpro has been the outstanding people our company has managed to attract, teach and retain, which enabled us to scale up the business. Currently Exactpro employs 350 people and continues to grow while keeping the same level of dedication and commitment to quality as the initial core team.
Exactpro has been providing quality assurance and testing services to LSEG since 2010. The laser focus on quality assurance as a service, along with hard work and commitment meant that we were able to work on a number of challenging projects and increase our footprint across the Group. In May 2015, LSEG decided to bring that expertise in house and that backing means Exactpro has been able to invest in the technology solutions underpinning the functionality of our test tools to take them to a new level. The Exactpro founders' mission has been to create a global software testing business helping organisations all over the world to improve quality and efficiency of their platforms and the acquisition of Exactpro by LSEG opened up exciting new business opportunities to accomplish this mission with added confidence.
2/ What are the testing and quality assurance services that LSEG customers want most of all, and what do you see as the key drivers of future growth for Exactpro services?
We provide a wide range of services in both trading and post trade areas for our customers. The most important types of testing our customers seek are functional testing, non-functional testing (such as performance, load, stress testing in test environments), testing at the confluence of functional and non-functional testing, operational acceptance testing, latency measurement and monitoring in Production. Effective test automation with wide coverage and a focus on cost efficiency, maintainability and sustainability is one of the areas where we've seen success in recent years. We couldn't have done this without a unique tool set we've managed to develop over the years to provide the services. A commitment to the quality of service we provide customers is central to everything we do and this is underpinned by an open access approach to our areas of expertise, something promoted by LSEG industry-wide,and staying focused on providing the necessary learning and training opportunities for our staff are some of the key contributors to our future growth as a company.
3/ What is the opportunity to work with other LSEG technology businesses, notably Millennium IT and GATElab?
Being part of a wider Group means we can bring testing closer to the source of where technology projects start, which means we can review business requirements and use test tools at earlier stages. Exactpro and other LSEG technology businesses, such as MillenniumIT and GATElab are working together on product development to decrease time to market but at the same time keeping independent validation. LSEG has benefited from Exactpro’s neutral assessment of many of its platforms and maintaining the independence of Quality Assurance as a service is very important - it's an asset and keeping it is critical.
4/ Exactpro offers a wide range of services for testing everything from latency, to trading algorithms to data management. What are the reasons LSEG customers would choose to work with you rather than one of the largest independent third party IT service providers?
As part of LSEG, Exactpro has a position at the heart of capital markets technology and with that, access to testing a diverse and constantly improving portfolio of products and services. Support from the Group allows us to increase our investment in advanced tools and methods of program analysis, while keeping up to date with the latest trading technology trends. Our unique model of delivering testing tools on an open access basis, including their source code, to our customers along with testing services, so that the customer is not chained to its testing vendor, is unparalleled in the industry and sets us apart from our competitors.
Exactpro’s area of expertise is providing quality assurance services and related software development with a focus on test automation for securities data distribution, trading systems, risk management, market surveillance and post-trade infrastructures. Our commitment to delivering testing services of the highest quality within tight timeframes for our customers is a central value for us as a company. We promote integrity, partnership, innovation and excellence in everything we do as a company and as a result, clients worldwide trust us thanks to our transparency, reliability and track record. Over the years, we've managed to maintain a very attractive cost vs. value combination, which, along with our specialist knowledge gives us a very compelling proposition in an industry that is set to grow considerably.
5/ Automation is going to revolutionise testing over the next few years. What do you think your customers should do to take best advantage? Should they expect major savings in costs and time, or should they (will they have to) be re-investing those savings in larger engineering projects?
Automation is going to revolutionise not only testing, but most of the things and processes that surround us over the next few years. The complexity and data processing power of modern technologies and their impact on day to day operations are rising. When we use sophisticated platforms, we need to build software to test our software. We believe that appropriate investment in risk controls and rigorous testing are critical to ensure stable and efficient functioning of the financial markets. We think that higher percentage of the overall budget allocated to safety and compliance will be the ongoing trend. Exactpro supports research into the ways of achieving better test automation. This year we are holding our 6th EXTENT Software Testing and Trading Technology Trends industry-wide forum dedicated to quality assurance in the financial sector. We also support peer-reviewed Tools and Methods of Program Analysis conference together with Higher School of Economics and other universities.