SITUATION

With a technical lead based in New Zealand, the tyranny of distance (and time zones) familiar to dyed-in-the-wool Kiwis presented obstacles in working with remote teams. Recognising the availability of local talent in a burgeoning domestic technology industry, the vendor approached Assurity which set up a local team for the development of a connector for the AS2 protocol.

AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) is a specification for the transport of structured business-to-business data securely and reliably over the internet, using digital certificates and encryption. As the vendor is an integration software provider, this kind of functionality is essential to its core business.

Assurity’s Delivery Lead Shane Paulsen explains: “The connecter we worked on is the main access point for the vendor’s service bus; for businesses sending information, it acts as their gateway, offering a method for sending translatable, non-repudiable information. And, of course, the eventual product would have to be compatible with all the vendor’s products and any other components of the service bus it might incorporate after the fact.”

Under the guidance of the vendor’s technical lead, an Assurity team of four was established to develop the AS2 connector from scratch. The eventual product would replace a set of open source applications which the vendor had determined were no longer fit-for-purpose within its integration platform.

SOLUTION

With the goal of delivering a fit-for-purpose connector aligned with the vendor’s development principles, the Assurity development team was able to deliver the product to early access release within just six months, with General Availability achieved two weeks later.

Leveraging its recognised approach to software quality with exhaustive testing an integral component of development, as well as the DevOps methodology for agile software development, the effort was notable for coordinating among team in New Zealand, Argentina, and the United States. While Paulsen says the delivery of the initial product was within budget and on time, he adds that Assurity invested time and resources into creating bug-free software from the start.

“We call it 'Test-Driven Development'. Whereas in many projects, testing is left by the wayside or takes place towards the end of the project or even after delivery, we incorporate it as a pre-emptive and built-in measure – so while there were refactorings along the way, this was easily done based on testing and regressions. This equipped the team to iterate rapidly as we could make changes without breaking dependencies,” he explains.

RESULTS

The approach taken by Assurity meant that after the vendor put the AS2 connecter into General Availability, there was an absolute minimum of trouble tickets. The time ordinarily spent on resolving issues which tend to turn up after the first release was therefore allocated to the development of further functionality and performance enhancements.

The product is today used by the vendor’s clients – thousands around the world – as part of the widely-used integration platform.

That’s not all. Confidence in the successful delivery of a quality product soon saw the vendor engage Assurity for Drummond certification.

Drummond Certified software products provide assurance that software products are compliant and interoperable and do what it is promised out of the box. Many organisations, including governments, require Drummond certification before introducing new software into their environments.

Paulsen says Assurity handled two rounds of Drummond certification for the AS2 connector. “Getting this right is tricky as it depends on coordination with teams around the world, with Drummond itself located in the UK. There is also time pressure. If a window is missed or work isn’t completed on time, you have to wait for a new certification round.”

While working on the quality mark was a first for Assurity, its experience and capability in software testing delivered a positive result, with the initial and then subsequent certifications achieved without a hitch.

Through its engagement with Assurity, the vendor has benefited from proven Kiwi ingenuity, quality delivery and access to valuable insights and knowledge. The confidence the vendor has in Assurity’s team is further demonstrated by additional contributions made towards high-level input on requirements for the AS4 standard for Web services.

“We’re proud of the work we’ve done with the vendor. It shows how a company and people in a small country at the bottom of the world can make an impact on the global stage,” Paulsen concludes.

After developing key functionality for secure data exchange, Assurity went on to handle Drummond quality certification for the vendor, ultimately playing a central role in creating software functionality which is today used by companies all over the world”