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12 November, 2019
News and research on financial software quality assurance and risk management

Performance and load testing vendor of the year: Eggplant

Partner Project: Western & Southern Financial

The past two years have seen rapid growth at Eggplant, the London-based firm owned by the Carlyle Group. Customers such as insurer Western and Southern are increasingly seeking to test for "unknown unknowns".

Applications must be responsive and stable under varying workloads. And for financial firms, it is increasingly important that application testing encompasses changing customer behaviour and compliance requirements.

“Performance and load testing is all about creating those situations that organisations may find themselves in production." John Bates, CEO of Eggplant, the test automation specialist formally known as Testplant, told QA Financial. "For example, if a large number of customers use a sign-up form at the same time. These situations could be ‘known unknowns’, but also ‘unknown unknowns’, like the impact of Brexit and other political and macro-economic changes,” 

Eggplant’s Digital Automation Intelligence Suite (DAI Suite) comprises a number of applications which facilitate end-to-end test automation in the SDLC by using intelligent technologies. Eggplant Performance, part of the DAI Suite, simulates virtual users at both the network protocol and application UI levels, in order to provide an understanding of the user experience at scale.

In early 2018, Eggplant expanded its coverage of application performance by acquiring NCC Group’s Web Performance Division. “Eggplant has doubled down on this space of application performance,” explained Bates. “We now not only cover the space of load and performance testing, but this acquisition brings us into the space of digital performance management. By monitoring and analysing app performance in production, we can feed this data back into the development process.”

One major company utilising Eggplant Performance is Cincinnati, Ohio-based Western & Southern Financial Group, provider of life insurance, investments, and retirement solutions. The firm is in the process of consolidating IT processes across its various business units as part of the firm’s IT transformation.

“Performance testing was a piece of the puzzle in our IT transformation,” said Deepak Kumar, Manager of Software Testing at Western & Southern. “It was a capability which we wanted to standardise and roll out across the enterprise. Although we have been doing performance testing for a number of years, it was inconsistent across business units and there was no operating model or standard tools. We wanted to break down these silos by rolling out a standardised performance testing solution across the enterprise.”

In an effort to meet the transformation objectives, Western & Southern issued an RFP to transform its testing methodologies. The RFP included a formal evaluation of vendor finalists and a scorecard to objectively determine the best performance testing solution provider.

Eggplant secured the project to modernise performance testing across Western & Southern’s portfolio of enterprise applications. in 2016.  Since then, Eggplant has implemented Eggplant Performance to cover multiple business critical applications including: IBM Cognos; IBM Case Manager; IBM Datacap; IBM Content Navigator; Site Core; and other proprietary applications.

Richard Ward, President at Eggplant Americas said that IBM Cognos is a business-critical application for Western & Southern, used to provide real-time insights into business outcomes and performance. With a high input of data and multiple stakeholders across the business concurrently using the application, Eggplant Performance is being used to ensure a seamless user experience for internal users.

“With IBM Case Manager and Datacap, we have been involved in making sure that the system can efficiently automate the task workflow and digitise hand-written application forms which have been submitted to Western & Southern,” he added. “Historically, this has been a manual and time-consuming process. But now, the system can input hundreds of documents and automate the entire case-resolution process, presenting huge productivity savings.”

Eggplant Performance has enabled the firm’s QA teams to see the true user experience on its applications, and emulate those applications in different parts of the business. “We have only just touched the tip of the iceberg at Western & Southern,” added Ward. “We will be rolling out Eggplant Performance across all of their enterprise applications over the next two years.”

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