How Static Analysis Helped United Guaranty Reduce Application Risks and Cut Testing Costs
When United Guaranty needed to re-engineer its core applications and infrastructure to achieve a business model transition, they found their existing development processes were insufficient for the new demands. Critical software errors were not being found through the existing quality assurance processes. Initial deployed versions of the applications contained errors, such as connection leaks, that caused the applications to sporadically become unavailable—disrupting the business operations that depended on them.
To help resolve these problems, United Guaranty turned to Parasoft and began using Parasoft Development Testing Platform's static analysis to identify and eliminate critical software errors during implementation. Parasoft’s Development Testing Platform is now part of United Guaranty’s daily software development process, and the high severity errors like those that affected their early deployments are caught and resolved as part of development. The use of Parasoft’s Development Testing Platform has enabled United Guaranty to deliver the applications needed on schedule and with the reliability and high-availability required to support its new business model. The company estimates that the time and resources that Parasoft’s automation and breadth of testing provide saves the company more than $400,000 annually.
ChallengeThe mortgage insurance industry is highly competitive. To retain its competitive position in the industry, United Guaranty needed to improve operational efficiency and significantly reduce the time and cost of underwriting a loan. This led to the development of a comprehensive suite of Java applications and infrastructure that covers all major aspects of loan origination, underwriting, and servicing.As little packaged software existed to meet United Guaranty’s needs, MI Guide needed to be developed internally. It was designed as a set of software modules consisting of Web-based applications, business processes, and common services.
Early versions of the applications were plagued with reliability issues that affected their ability to sustain the high-availability required of them. IT development staff was being called into late-night meetings to determine why the applications were failing. It was found that connection leaks caused by the way the underlying application code was written were making the applications intermittently unavailable. To ensure that these errors would not continue to plague the performance of its production applications or affect new applications being developed, United Guaranty would need to find a way to identify and resolve them, and without significant overhead on development which faced an aggressive delivery schedule.
The SolutionUnited Guaranty’s IT development group began using Parasoft static analysis to help reduce the time and effort to find critical reliability errors. In the initial deployment, Parasoft's automated static analysis capabilities were configured to focus just on identifying the half a dozen coding errors that were causing connection leaks. With the successful elimination of the occurrence of these connection leak errors, the company has expanded its use of Parasoft static analysis over time.
Today, Parasoft static analysis is configured to regularly scan United Guaranty code and identify the presence of over 60 types of significant coding errors. United Guaranty has used Parasoft RuleWizard to create a custom set of coding guidelines that identifies coding errors specific to their development practices and application structure. The company enforces application of those guidelines requiring that all code pass compliance with them before any code can be promoted to integration testing. To automate and facilitate regular execution of Parasoft static analysis, United Guaranty has integrated it into the company’s automated build process. Analysis of code for identification of any of the 60 target coding errors is done automatically when developers submit their code to the centralized build process. Results of the analysis are routed to developers via e-mail for their evaluation and action.
The BenefitsSince the company started using Parasoft static analysis, it has identified and corrected more than 500 critical errors in the MI Guide® applications. Before the use of Parasoft static analysis, developers were spending a considerable amount of time finding and fixing software errors. After Parasoft static analysis was integrated into the development process, the time spent finding and fixing errors was reduced significantly, giving developers at least 10% more time for creating new software capabilities.
This additional productivity is equivalent to adding four employees to the company’s team of 40 Java developers. With a fully loaded annual cost per developer of $110,000, the annualized overhead savings is approximately $440,000 per year. More importantly for United Guaranty, its production systems have become much more stable compared to the environment prior to installing Parasoft static analysis, and customers have become accustomed to the high-availability of MI Guide.
Parasoft has allowed United Guaranty’s IT development organization to control the quality of applications it produces and consistently meet the high application availability and reliability required to support the company’s transition to an e-commerce mortgage insurer. The MI Guide suite of applications provide United Guaranty with the ability to rank as one of the top mortgage insurance providers in the industry. The integration of Parasoft static analysis into the development process has increased development effectiveness, significantly reducing the time and cost to deliver the quality e-commerce applications that the company requires. It has lowered development risk by enabling development to consistently deliver high-reliability applications on schedule. The bottom line: by providing improved productivity and higher code reliability Parasoft static analysis is saving the company more than $400,000 each year while ensuring systems meet customer expectations.
Mark Figley, enterprise architect at United Guaranty, summed up, "Parasoft static analysis is an extremely effective tool for identifying critical software errors. We don’t see repeat errors, and our developers get constant reinforcement of their progress as they improve their code. It has eliminated the prospect of being summoned to the executive suite late at night to explain why an online application has become unavailable again. Parasoft static analysis has allowed developers to take greater personal responsibility for the quality of their own code."
Parasoft’s industry-leading automated software testing tools support the entire software development process, from when the developer writes the first line of code all the way through unit and functional testing, to performance and security testing, leveraging simulated test environments along the way.