In today's trading environment, a firm's competitive advantage increasingly depends on developing and continuously evolving a high-quality IT infrastructure. But monitoring and managing the software code development process to ensure a quality end product can be a time-consuming, expensive and fallible practice. Which is why Credit Suisse turned to CAST Software's Application Intelligence Platform.
"The two key drivers behind [the use of CAST] were my focus on having the development team increase the quality level of the product we produce, and to be able to measure quality and changes in quality in a quantifiable way," explains Hank Hyatt, Credit Suisse's global head of equities IT.
The key concept behind the CAST platform is to give a company automated software quality governance by providing transparency into the application development process, according to Hyatt. To do this, CAST -- which is also being used by The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. and Raymond James, among other financial industry participants -- links with the user's source code management system to get inside the relevant application box. The quality of the application is then measured according to five criteria: transferability, changeability, robustness, performance and security. CAST also can drill down into the source code to unearth the root cause of any quality metric that gets flagged, and enable action to be taken to resolve it.
The result -- accessed through the CAST Dashboard -- is an automated structural analysis of the entire business system in question, which extends to the platforms with which the code interacts and includes how the different components are working together. That information then can be used by the relevant supervising manager to better monitor quality and any resulting risks as the application is evolving, rather than at the end of the process. In this way, Hyatt says, problems can be caught earlier in the development process (making them cheaper to rectify), the end quality will be higher, there can be more reuse of frameworks and components across the organization, and there is more-efficient use of the development team's time.
Meanwhile, the increased management visibility into the process makes outsourcing and offshoring of development work more viable -- in theory -- since there is more transparency into the code that is created externally, and tighter control over the arrangement can be exercised through specific service level agreements (SLAs), Hyatt adds. Indeed, the initial impetus for Hyatt behind CAST's use stemmed from his intention to engage in a large-scale offshoring effort with a couple of India-based vendors, and his desire to ensure that when working with his systems they did what he asked them to do, Hyatt reports.
"I had done fixed price work before, where we spent an inordinate amount of time doing frequent code drops and line-by-line code walk-throughs," recalls Hyatt. "So historically there was a huge manual effort on our part to do this. And as we were embarking on a large wave of offshoring, I wanted to be ready for it."
Using CAST's capabilities, Hyatt relates, he planned to hand over the code to the vendor with a set of predetermined performance agreements and deliverables in the SLAs that would ensure the overall quality of the code as the vednor modified it. Of course, CAST would provide a measure of the quality of the output, he explains.