Time Simulator: Automate Virtual Clock Changes While Testing | Change System Clock Automatically
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Case-study : How to solve time-based testing problems during the merger of two banks



Overview of the IT Consolidation


Two leading large German banks merged together resulting in the densest network of branches among all private German banks. One of the primary goals after the merger was to consolidate the combined IT systems. This meant the two previously separate banks would have to merge, migrate & consolidate all of their banking systems.


The banks used more than ten different operating systems and Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) for LDAP directory services, single sign-on, and domain authentication across 1,200 applications in their systems. This complex and large environment greatly complicated date & time testing especially since their goal was to complete this project in eighteen months!



Technical Challenges


One of the requirements for merging the two financial institutions was that their IT processes must be able to handle numerous date & time events.  These range from loan maturity dates, monthly billings, and interest calculations and on and on. Therefore, testing of all time & date logic across the breadth of their applications was clearly necessary to verify the migration & integration of the software services from the merger of the two banks.


Physically changing the real system clock can impact database reloads, cause backup problems, file timestamp issues and more which will make the  date running, time, time-zone and duration-triggered event tests complicated. Adding Active Directory prevents any forward date testing as AD’s explicit use of Kerberos for domain authentication requires every machine in the network have its system time offset of no more than five minutes from the Domain Controller’s (DC) time. This means if the system time difference between any machine and the DC is more than five minutes, that machine is locked out of the network.


The Solution


Trying to perform effective date testing and to overcome the problem with changing the system clock and bypassing the system lock-out seen in Active Directory, the Accenture team followed the recommendation of another US-based project team to try a time simulation tool, as they had many successful experiences using the Time Machine software tool from Solution-Soft.




Time virtualization and simulation provided the now combined large banking organization an easy process for integrating all data, applications, and servers.  The bank utilized virtual time manipulation across all their UNIX, Linux, & Windows testing platforms with more than 500 servers.  As a result, the 1,200 applications were tested successfully and the project was finished within the 18-month deadline.