Using Genymotion from AWS Marketplace has enabled us to improve application quality and deliver more functionality, faster.
Anne Boden founded Starling Bank with a clear goal: to build a bank that would help customers manage their money, all from one mobile app. Thirty years ago, Anne pioneered the United Kingdom's first same-day payment service that transformed electronic money. Today, the same ambition to use technology to transform banking sits at the core of Starling. Intuitive, secure, and 100 percent digital, Starling is a disruptive mobile banking startup that is making waves—and it runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Virtually all retail banks offer web and mobile apps in addition to traditional branch and ATM channels. At Starling, from the customer’s perspective, the app is the bank. That puts the development team at the center of the business and makes delivering new features and seamless functionality essential.
“When a customer opens an account with us through their mobile phone, they want instant access to their money,” says Steven Newson, director of technology at Starling. “Our application has to work every time.” To accomplish this, the company uses a fast-moving DevOps approach to code, with continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). This requires its Espresso-based interface testing to scale rapidly, enabling Starling to catch bugs before they impact customers.
The traditional approach to testing mobile applications is to connect physical mobile phones to a computer running a test suite. However, this configuration does not scale well and is complex to manage. “We don’t want to spend our time maintaining the infrastructure necessary for physical device testing,” says Newson. “Testing across different models, OS versions, and screen sizes can quickly become unmanageable. We needed a virtual testing solution.”
That’s where the Genymotion solution—created by Genymobile—comes in. “Our software Genymotion emulates Android devices on-demand in the cloud, allowing Starling Bank to start and stop any number and any types of virtual devices instantly, and hence to enhance the agility and scale of application testing,” says Cécile Maurisset, product marketing manager at Genymobile.
“The bank runs in AWS, so getting Genymotion from AWS Marketplace was the shortest path to achieving our goals,” says Newson. “It was easy to get approve a solution that runs on the same platform. Additionally, our Genymotion utilization is part of our AWS bill, so we can pay for everything at once.”
Procuring Genymotion from AWS Marketplace allowed for optimal integration with Starling Bank's existing infrastructure. Solutions on AWS Marketplace are preconfigured to be deployed with just a few clicks. Starling Bank can now track Genymotion utilization just as it does with AWS services. Quality, security, and feature updates are pre-checked by AWS and delivered automatically when approved for a seamless experience. With pay-as-you-go pricing, Starling Bank can optimize the cost of using Genymotion based on demand.
Starling uses a TeamCity server hosted on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for its development pipeline and Espresso to create user interface tests. Whenever changes are pushed to the team’s Git repository, a new build is triggered on TeamCity. Once the artifacts are ready, Genymotion instances start automatically to maximize speed. Once testing is complete, the team can see test results, test coverage information, and screenshots of emulated Android devices to show areas of test failure.
The cloud-based nature of Genymotion makes scaling up the testing pipeline a simple matter. “If you want to keep build time reasonable for quick feedback, it’s easy to add more instances to run tests for each build,” says Newson. “Using Genymotion on AWS, this process takes about 10 seconds. If we were managing test infrastructure on premises, it could take hours or days. This instant scalability is very useful.”
The company relies on fast results from Genymotion to keep its development team moving forward. “Using Genymotion on AWS, we get notified in less than 30 minutes if there are code issues,” says Newson. “Whether code coverage has dropped or the developer has broken something, getting that quick feedback means faster problem resolution and shorter time to market. It’s very smooth and keeps us moving forward.”
Supporting its CI/CD pipeline with Genymotion from AWS Marketplace enables Starling to keep up the pace of innovation. “We’ve kept our speed as we’ve scaled up,” says Newson. “We have always had a weekly release cadence, but automated testing ensures we can maintain that cadence as our application becomes more capable and feature-rich. Using Genymotion from AWS Marketplace has enabled us to improve application quality and deliver more functionality, faster.”
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