Interview with Xavier Oswald, VP and Head of DevOps & Agile test automation services

Meet Xavier Oswald at this years Swiss Testing Day. Find out more about his background and interests in his interview.

Xavier, you have managed 100+ performance testing projects… Which was the most exciting and why? 

Each project is coming with its own challenges from various dimensions such as technology, requirements, architecture, etc. We can always find some interesting and exciting areas.

The most exciting project for me was probably the Credit-Suisse online banking platform. It is a business critical application, facing very high volume of transactions and covering lot of business areas. It was a great opportunity to learn a lot about our business and contribute to a critical program of our company. As per the importance of this platform, very strong attention and focus was set on performance, stability, scalability and reliability to meet the business expectations. Therefore, performance was one of the core topic for the entire team and the collaboration to address performance challenges was just great! This is one of those occasions where your work is recognized and you are part and embedded into the E2E delivery journey, which can be very challenging as a  QA engineer

Saying that, I feel still lot of project teams are not considering performance as a serious topic and generally little focus, budget & attention is set in regards of this practice. Therefore, it might not be much exciting to work under those conditions. Generally, those are the applications facing frequent production stability issues and requiring urgent attention. We all know that it is not that exciting to work in taskforce mode.

Can you tell us a bit about your path to becoming a QA technical lead at Credit Suisse? 

This was a very long journey… In parallel to my studies, I was an open source developer and an official GNU / Linux Debian developer. I was active in the open source community for about 8 years. After my studies I was working for a digital printing company as Linux & C developer, I have created there a customized Debian Linux distribution to run our printing software that was high demanding in terms of performance. This is where probably the performance topic did hit me. Once I had completed this project, I have joined a consulting company providing services across EMEA in the field of production systems monitoring and performance engineering. I had various roles such as leading the technical team, Pre-sales for monitoring solutions, Consultant for our customers, etc.. Then I joined Credit-Suisse as Lead performance engineer and smoothly started to evolve as team lead and driving multiple engagements to address various performance requirements. I’m still spending time on performance related topic but I recently became the head of Agile / DevOps and continuous testing services across Credit-Suisse as a central enablement capability for the company

You are talking about how Performance Testing evolves… Can you tell us why you choose this topic?  

Swiss testing day is a great experience and for me it was always a great place to share and exchange. 

This is exactly what we want to achieve with this presentation, talk about experiences, challenges, changes and opportunities that have affected us during the last years delivering performance-testing services in our company.  The IT world is changing and evolving so fast and one of the most relevant topic is to learn from each other in order to make the right and most efficient decisions. This talk is all about sharing our experience in the field of performance testing.

What IT trends do you see a future for and why?

It might be a frequent received statement that we see a future for AI, ML and more automation. There is so much to say but let me point out probably the most relevant topic, at least to me. There are specific areas where we introduce automation and very often forget the new amount of work generated by automation. If we automate more and more tests or other type of practices, there is a need to analyze more and more results, put the right controls in place, etc.

I think we have achieved a great step ahead in terms of automating IT processes but we probably reached only 50% completion as we often have generated a new amount of work being performed manually or partially automated. I’m accordingly still struggling to see all the benefits we should get while automating certain practices and especially when we talk about testing.

This is where I think we should spend time and efforts, to get closer to 100% E2E automation where possible and be confident about our E2E delivery practices. This where I see the room for AI / ML innovations and opportunities.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office? 

I am a music lover and some people call me audiophile, I spent lot of time listening to music and tweaking my music reproduction system to get closer to live concert listening experience at home. 

I like cooking (yes, I’m French :)) and sharing recipes with my friends. Recipes are close to software and I like to follow the different steps rigorously to achieve great and few times not so great results. Tweaking recipes to influence the results is a lot of fun, same as what we do when we tweak the code of our software.