Chain tests (KWARTS)

  • 3 February 2020
  • 5 minutes

The Dutch Railways (NS) have an extensive application landscape. The applications within this landscape are interconnected, so one change can affect the entire chain. To be able to test the impact of a new release in a controlled way, the NS Test Competence Center developed the test framework KWARTS. 

KWARTS is a virtualized test environment in which automated chain tests are performed. For management, further development, infrastructure and hosting, we work closely with InTraffic and ACC ICT.

The result: one system that tests the entire chain

The system arose from the demand for an application that can be used to test the entire chain. KWARTS allows teams to test in parallel with their own applications and test data. In addition, the streets are extremely high availability. The great advantage of chain testing is that the effect of a change becomes visible on all systems in the chain, thus making the impact of the change predictable. Chain-related problems can be detected at an early stage with KWARTS, because it allows us to do chain tests more frequently and earlier. From across the NS landscape, the necessary production servers are reproduced. At each test lane, we consider which systems are relevant to the application that will be tested. These systems are duplicated and made available in an isolated chain test lane. Started as an application for Travel Information, KWARTS has grown within NS into a system that is deployed organization-wide. All internal NS systems can be accommodated within KWARTS, with links also being facilitated to other (external) environments.

Current travel information in trains, on the website and in the NS Reisplanner Xtra app

The first test line to go live was the one for travel information on screens in trains, the On-Board Information System (OBIS). Passengers can use this to see, among other things, whether a train is running on schedule, whether there is a delay and, if so, how long the delay is. This system also provides free Internet access (wifi) for passengers. Via a second chain test lane, the NS Test Competence Center can also test the travel information for the website and the app NS Reisplanner Xtra.

Cooperation between NS, ACC ICT and InTraffic

InTraffic and ACC ICT had previously proven that they could successfully execute projects together. We also proved able to meet the technical challenges for the NS within the intended budgets. This resulted in the first test street for which ACC ICT is providing the IT infrastructure: a flexible IT environment, both in terms of servers and connectivity. InTraffic provides expert people who fit within the culture of the NS Test Competence Center. They also build the chain tests. The NS Group is responsible for everything, including the KWARTS concept, what we do and how it is completed."

InTraffic contribution

We second the specialists at the NS Competence Center who are responsible for setting up the test lines and running the chain tests. At NS, we have created a virtual environment in which we can intentionally drop servers, or even break them, to see what happens next. This allows us to test the entire chain to get ahead of things that could go wrong. The result? Cost savings, better informed travelers and higher customer satisfaction.

"Together, we manage time and again, despite the complexity of the environments and the wide range of requirements, to facilitate a unique testing platform. All three parties have reliability, professionalism and cooperation in high regard."

- Friso Engels - NS Toolsupport at the NS Test Competence Center

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Marjolein Klasen