Today, the entire world is connected, and the fourth industrial revolution is only blurring the physical and digital boundaries more. However, when applications, networks, and IT infrastructure amid such profound congruence fail, they are bound to have a negative impact on a business’s operations.
Gartner has previously estimated that organizational damage can range from $140,000 to $540,000 per hour due to IT downtime. This impact can be seen in terms of customer dissatisfaction, poor brand image, lost productivity, increased operational costs, revenue losses, and more. But at the same time, it is largely unavoidable due to the increasing complexity of IT distributed systems.
Today, most businesses utilize microservice architecture, cloud computing, and a lot of moving parts as they go about building their application toolkit. While the benefits of these approaches are manifold, they’re not free from potential failures. As soon as you launch a software or application, you become dependent on the environment it runs in.
Here, testing for mishaps becomes extremely important. With the complexity of cloud-native architecture and digital transformation initiatives, it is vital to ensure applications can withstand the chaos within the development environment — precisely where chaos testing or chaos engineering comes into the picture.
What Is Chaos Engineering?
Chaos engineering is an approach to testing the integrity and resilience of a system within the production environment. It ensures that proactive measures are taken before the system leads to downtime or negative user experiences. To that end, the core principles of chaos engineering include the following:
- Steady-state hypothesis: When the program delivers the expected output, it can be considered to be working in a steady position. The hypothesis is made that the system will continue in a steady state whenever the chaos experiment is run.
- Setting the quality metrics: The data related to the system, testing, and production environment is collected to set the quality metrics. Frequent evaluation of programs needs to be done to ensure the ongoing behavior of the system and prevent potential outages.
- Resilience experiments: The chaos is introduced to cause the program to fail deliberately. The execution of experiments can be automated to analyze the experimental results.
- Monitoring and repeating experiments: The key is to run experiments in the production environment and pinpoint the weaknesses to build a reliable and resilient system.
Application of Chaos Testing in Product Engineering
Chaos testing is being practiced by many tech giants, including Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, to improve the resilience of their application infrastructure. Netflix used Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure for streaming purposes. When AWS suffered a major outage in 2012, Netflix wanted to ensure that this outage would not affect their streaming experience. So, they created a suite of tools that supported the principles of chaos engineering.
Chaos Monkey, a tool created by the engineering team of Netflix, was leveraged to test the system’s resilience. It runs the experiments in the production environment rather than in a simulated environment to test the system’s stability and check its response in real time. Such examples are a testament to the potential that chaos engineering holds for driving application reliability initiatives – especially in the wake of the application modernization wave, the surge in cloud-native development, and the widely prevalent reliance on DevOps and automation.
Why Use Chaos Testing?
In the DevOps process, most testing processes are automated, and the software is delivered without much manual testing and evaluations. For the same reason, testers should conduct chaos testing. Although chaos testing is not a core testing focus, it certainly contributes to the reliability of the application or service. It enables IT teams to test the applications for many unpredictable events within the production environment. Here are the top benefits of chaos testing:
- Increases reliability and resilience of application by evaluating the software performance under stress.
- Chaos testing intelligence funnels back directly to the developers, who can implement the design changes and accelerate innovation.
- By learning the failure scenarios, teams can speed up the process of incident response, repair, and troubleshooting.
- Faster response time and increased resilience lead to less downtime, better collaboration, high application performance, and ultimately improved customer satisfaction.
- Chaos engineering improves businesses’ bottom line thanks to faster time-to-value and saved time and resources in managing failures, wasted resources, and application maintenance costs.
Get Started with Chaos Engineering
In today’s world, no system is safeguarded from outages or failures. The good thing is that the impact of system or application failure on customers, partners, employees, and business reputation can be significantly lessened and altogether prevented by proactively addressing issues and identifying the path to system recovery.
Chaos engineering, as a part of testing strategy, can work wonders to improve the resilience of applications and IT infrastructure. As a dedicated testing partner, Forgeahead can help in successfully driving application testing and engineering initiatives. Talk to our chaos engineering experts today!