Severn Trent eyeing virtualisation for SAP bug testing

Severn Trent Water is considering service virtualisation so it can update its SAP software while ensuring that patching won’t affect live services.


Severn Trent Water is considering service virtualisation so it can update its SAP software while ensuring that patching won’t affect live services.

The utility giant hopes that replicating a live environment to test its SAP systems will “ultimately lead to better customer service”, Theresa Pemble, Severn Trent’s solution delivery manager said. 

Severn Trent saw manual testing execution cut by 61 percent for all billing releases after automating bug testing. The firm constantly develops its billing and ancillary systems including telemetry on water levels in pipes to payment service provider applications.

Pemble said: “Automating the regression testing has reduced the time taken to test from five days to a matter of hours. And in addition we’ve seen test coverage increase by between 251 percent and 377 per cent on billing releases." 

With the deregulation looming in 2017, utility companies are aiming for improved customer service processes to give them the edge in an open market. Streamlining software testing while maintaining availability is key to that, Jeff Cunliffe, director at Automation explains. 

“Utility companies often struggle to implement maintenance updates as the software then needs testing and checking. Ensuring updates don’t affect system performance requires workflow analysis and regression testing; if the software isn’t maintained then customers can’t benefit from the latest updates.” 

Severn Trent’s testing team had written initial automation scripts for regression testing, but wanted to overcome last-minute errors or hiccups so the team could spend more time testing products for its business users. 

It brought in service provider Automation Consultants to complete the process, using the HP ALM toolset including LoadRunner, automated functional testing tool HP Unified Funcitonal Testing, and Quality Centre Enterprise for the test management. 

Severn Trent now follows a performance test framework. 

“This meant we were able to identify a bottleneck of data in a critical system prior to implementation, protecting our live service” added Pemble. 

The testing team has begun to automate its SAP patching testing to maintain high availability. It is exploring service virtualisation. 

Pemble said: “Automation consultants demoed it and it looks promising – there’s not a project we’re running in which I can’t envisage it proving beneficial. Being able to replicate live environments and realistically performance test out systems will ultimately lead to better customer service, which is what we’re most concerned about.” 

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FFDB), the drug contract manufacturing division of the camera and camera film company, is implementing SAP service pack upgrades more efficiently using automated testing software from Panaya.

Lloyds Bank also revealed to ComputerworldUK that service virtualisation helped it cut app development costs by reducing testing times and highlighting defects earlier.

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