DevOps Online Journalist, Leah Alger, flew to Las Vegas to attend CA World ’17, where she got the opportunity to speak to Gareth Watson, tooling and environments manager at TalkTalk, about the company’s major tooling transition underway with CA Technologies
Watson started his software testing career in 2007, before moving to TalkTalk 10 years ago. He has been a key industry leader in the development and deployment of tools developers use, in the case of TalkTalk supporting hundreds of software applications and over 400 developers.
Watson said: “My job is to manage the toolchain used by our testers and developers. Making sure people don’t do things outside the toolchain is a challenge as sometimes people like to make manual changes meaning our automation can break.
‘Managing the toolchain user by testers and developers’
“Being responsible for the toolchain, I make sure the developers tools are completely integrated, so they can focus on solving the problems they are given, rather than how they are going to get those changes into production.
“The teams we have right now are all absolutely focused on automation. We have invested in software and solutions which allow us to take manual business processes and automate them from the start.”
TalkTalk started its journey with CA two years ago. CA is helping TalkTalk to deal with the technical debt the company is carrying, both by using automation tooling and CA’s Test Data Management tool. TalkTalk has used CA’s tooling in the past and found that the integrations between the tools would help realise further benefit – the journey has really started on this at TalkTalk.
Delivering test automation
Watson revealed: “Thanks to CA, in the next three months, we will be able to deliver test automation and drive efficiencies in our test cycles through delivering faster.
“We have a number of quality checks we go through before code goes to automation – some automated, some not. We are focussed on automating those final islands of manual processes one of which is testing from the system level up – it’s a large and challenging amount of work but the benefits are enormous.
“At the moment we have 84 million lines of code spread across 600 applications, running on over 3,000 servers, with 5,000 interdependencies – so we are getting rid of some considerable technical debt as well as automating.”
TalkTalk suffered a huge security attack back in 2015, causing 15,000 consumers financial details to be hacked. Watson was part of the team that helped to remediate the issues within TalkTalk’s systems, an experience that endorsed the need for industry-leading tooling.
“It was extremely satisfying once we started to fix the security issues. Whilst it was a particularly low moment for us during the attack, I am happy with the way TalkTalk responded to it. Yes, we got it wrong, but we handled it the right way. It has been a catalyst that has driven better ways of working. Working with companies like CA ensures that we are better in the future,” said Watson.
Like most managers, Watson ensures his team has a healthy work culture, through a particular way of working with his tooling team.
Watson added: “Letting my team be creative and solve their own problems is important. I am quite hands-off. We have a couple of junior members in the team who have really grown in the last twelve months, and turned into great software developers/testers, through giving them challenging work to work on.”
Written by Leah Alger