27 August 2014

Craig Ramsey

Craig Ramsey - ACI Worldwide

33 | posts 93,159 | views 1 | comments

Sleeping with the enemy? Blog Series Week 6

29 April 2014  |  1477 views  |  0

Coming from an IT background, I am often overly critical of a bank’s IT department. I get frustrated when they appear to be more worried about technical standards than viable functionality.  In truth, of course, both of these need to be balanced. Good functionality cannot exist without good IT - just as good technical capabilities are useless if they're not functionally relevant.

Today, let’s look at the world of non-functional requirements (NFRs). The glue that keeps the solution working and ultimately lets you sleep at night.

The list is simple and in no particular order: Security, reliability, resilience, availability, scalability, extensibility, flexibility and testability. Actually, I don’t think that some of those are even real words, but when has that stopped us in the industry before?

Security is obviously one that leaps out given the recent Heartbleed problems. But it isn’t just about secure internet connections, or plugging in card readers or biometrics; this has to be fundamental to the solution. With the financial services industry an obvious target for hackers, has its software been swept for code that could put the bank at risk? Does the software company perform due diligence in how it builds code in the first place?  Is the vendor trustworthy? A great test is whether you would trust them with your own money.

Next up is reliability and resilience. This is where there is often IT versus business conflict. We all want the latest technology, and when you’re installing new IT assets, you want something that is robust as well as future proof. But there’s a fine line between modern technology and a science project. Too innovative is often less proven and that adds risk. That’s why innovative solutions need reliability built in from the ground up and by engineers who know the industry. You can only conduct business if you’re open for business, and that’s only possible if your solution is reliable, and if something bad does happen, you can handle the repercussions.

Availability is about it working around the clock, just like the world does. We're seeing a move to real-time payments around the world and with that comes the need for permanent availability -24x7/365.

Scalability (can it grow as my business grows?), extensibility (is there provision for adding incremental features and data?) and flexibility (can I adjust what I want to do today?) all go hand in hand.  Service-oriented architecture (SOA) has been seen as a utopia to solve all these things, but this assumption has also caused problems. Too complex an environment with too many components has not been conducive to providing a reliable environment. And having to have too many components has also made the environment too complex (and too expensive)--not the improvement some had imagined. SOA is great, don't get me wrong, but you still need well-architected solutions, not components.

Finally let's talk about testability. The ability not just to test a solution, but also the ability to perform recurring tests to show a proven result. But it goes beyond that too. You need knowledge of what to test. And complexity adds exponentially to the different cases and failure scenarios that must be tested.  If you're not testing it, then how do you know everything works? Work with your specialist (whether it be your systems integrator or the vendor) to make sure you're testing every aspect of your new business solution.

A lot of lost sleep has happened in the past couple of years caused by a multitude of factors. Care and attention to these NFRs certainly goes a long way to achieving a long, restful sleep.

TagsSecurityPayments

Comments: (0)

Comment on this story (membership required)
Log in to receive notifications when someone posts a comment

Latest posts from Craig

There’s a long road ahead...weeks 6 to 10 in review

09 June 2014  |  1237 views  |  0  |  Recommends 0 TagsPaymentsTransaction banking

Working for your success. Blog Series Week 10

03 June 2014  |  1141 views  |  0  |  Recommends 0 TagsPaymentsTransaction banking

Taking your data from big to useful. Blog Series Week 9

20 May 2014  |  1553 views  |  1  |  Recommends 1 TagsPaymentsInnovation

Basel III can make you omniscient: Blog Series Week 8

13 May 2014  |  1608 views  |  0  |  Recommends 0 TagsRisk & regulation

Mobile is not for everyone all the time. Blog Series Week 7

07 May 2014  |  1614 views  |  0  |  Recommends 1 TagsMobile & onlinePayments
name

Craig Ramsey

job title

Solutions Lead EMEA

company name

ACI Worldwide

member since

2009

location

Watford

Summary profile See full profile »
Craig Ramsey has worked in the payments industry for over 25 years, working with banks and softwa...

Craig's expertise

What Craig reads
Craig writes about

Who is commenting on Craig's posts

Andy Hirst
Ketharaman Swaminathan
Simon Stroud