SEI Novus accelerates feature release deployment from weeks to hours with Postman

Postmanaut working with SEI Novus A P I. Illustration.

About

Global portfolio analytics company SEI Novus℠ streamlines data management, performance measurement, and analysis for asset owners and asset managers that manage $4 trillion in assets.

Founded in 2007, SEI Novus operates in New York, London, Austin, and Zurich, serving more than 140 clients including Barclays Capital, Incline Global, and Cheyne Capital. Clients can interact with their investments and collaborate in multiple ways. They can see trade performance reports or assess changes in investment risk caused by a geopolitical event in real-time.

Postman was a crucial component in the platform’s evolution, with resulting improvements in platform functionality and stability contributing to Novus’ acquisition by SEI in 2021. Using Postman increased developer productivity, streamlining the SEI Novus DevOps build pipeline.

Results

New feature release deployment reduced from weeks to hours

Automated testing

Increased developer productivity

Higher quality code


The Challenge

The original platform, launched in 2007, was aimed solely at asset managers. Primarily providing portfolio analytics to hedge funds, it offered these investment firms a web-based alternative to managing billions in assets on spreadsheets.

Postman is a critical component of our modern software development practice that demonstrates our commitment to quality control.

Noah Zucker, Head of Platform, SEI Novus

In the early days, manual testing focused on checking that a web page loaded without errors. Validating the actual analytics numbers, on the other hand, was a tedious, error-prone process that would take an individual hours to complete.

As a result, even though building a new feature took only a few hours, the release cycle was a very involved process that could take days or weeks - and sometimes months.

In this legacy platform, new features frequently broke existing code, requiring engineers to invest hours in investigating breaks - often not found until after the code had reached production. Emergency rollbacks were frequent occurrences, bringing frustration to engineers and end-users alike.


The Solution

By 2016, SEI Novus was looking to expand its customer base to include asset owners such as pension funds, hedge fund investors, and sovereign wealth funds. The platform needed to enhance its portfolio analytics capabilities exponentially.

REST APIs were the answer, enabling SEI Novus to completely re-architect their backend analytics engine. The original application was split into two, with a rich Angular frontend, completely data agnostic, consuming REST from the backend to generate rich reports and visuals for clients.

The backend focuses on data processing for the internal calculations engines. It provides data in JavaScript or JSON to the frontend through a data frame. Postman requests in the testing environment are used to check the accuracy of numbers produced by the calculations engine. Postman tests are also used daily to ensure that the data reflects current financial market changes.

Using Postman has been a game-changer. We had been using standard source control but once we set up our accounts, things improved because Postman is amazing.

Noah Zucker, Head of Platform, SEI Novus

The platform has changed from being a web application to a dashboard application. By splitting the frontend and backend the engineering teams are now working faster.

Clients now have complete control over their data and use customizable dashboards that can support a variety of investments. Additionally, clients can share reports both internally and externally with ease, empowering collaboration. The API provides extreme flexibility in the application allowing clients to construct multiple types of portfolio analyses.

Postman API documentation provides a permanent reference for every ticket generated. It helps to keep track of business use cases and ensures that they remain solved.

When a client requests a new feature, it is built and tested using a Postman request to check that the correct data is being retrieved. The test suite ensures that both the code is correct and that the data is not adversely affected by new features. Code quality has increased significantly.

Postman is an essential part of the development cycle. For example, new features are tested by simply adding a field to make a call. With every such API field, the SEI Novus engineering team requires a corresponding Postman test to validate its correctness. Code is not merged into the main branch without such a test.

For source control, SEI Novus uses the feature branch workflow where each new feature or bug fix has a dedicated branch. With that branch in their application repository is a corresponding fork of their Postman workspace, adding test cases proving that the code change is correct. Postman's command-line collection runner, Newman, is integrated into the SEI Novus CI/CD process to ensure code undergoes extensive regression testing before release. In fact, the SEI Novus engineering team follows a strict rule: all Postman tests must pass, always, before code can be promoted to production.

This extensive testing during the DevOps build pipeline ensures that a new feature is robust and there is reduced risk from serious regression bugs.


The Outcome

New features are deployed in hours, multiple times a day, as Postman provides agility and automation. The platform is continuously increasing the power of its data intelligence for clients. The deployment pipeline takes two clicks, one to launch tests and the other to push to production.

Our success is, in part, due to implementing Postman early in the API lifecycle as it has allowed us to iterate quickly.

Daniel Ronde, Head of Engineering, SEI Novus

A stable testing framework has accelerated iterations and development. For SEI Novus, testing in the DevOps build pipeline has proved to be the single biggest factor in increasing developer productivity.

Engineers have complete confidence in Postman, and nothing is sent to the next stage of the build pipeline or production without it passing Postman tests. This commitment to quality assurance in part facilitated SEI’s acquisition of Novus.

The same code is used for multiple business use cases, so everyone benefits when a change has a positive impact.

Postman provides a safe place to observe the impact of code changes. Engineers can break tests and understand what caused the breaks. This knowledge means engineers can quickly resolve bugs.

Postman is an integral part of the software development practice at SEI Novus and enables the platform to keep evolving.

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