Welcome!

Wearables Authors: Pat Romanski, Kevin Benedict, Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg, Shelly Palmer

Related Topics: Wearables, @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo, @DevOpsSummit

Wearables: Blog Post

Five Ways to Mitigate the Risks of TiP By @Neotys | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

Best Practices

Don’t Freak Out! Five Ways to Mitigate the Risks of TiP

If there is one thing we know for sure, it is that it's extremely difficult to accurately reproduce a production environment for QA purposes. That's why there is such a natural pull in the direction of Testing in Production (TiP), in which testing is done within the live environment where real users are actively engaged in the product.

There are many benefits to using the production system as a means to conduct QA, but it can be stressful for an organization that isn't well-versed in the practice. Oftentimes, the risks of TiP prevent software testers from even trying it out. And in the worst-case scenario, a poorly managed TiP initiative can have dangerous consequences, impacting real users and revenue.

However, TiP is not something to be afraid of. The more you understand what may go wrong and how to take the proper precautions to prevent that, the more successful and efficient your overall app development process will be.

Today's post is about the major risks of Testing in Production, how to mitigate them and ensure you're getting your best end-product to users.

The Benefits of TiP

When you rely solely on a dedicated QA environment to test your app before launching it in production, you open yourself up to the risk that minor differences in how the QA and Production environments are implemented actually have a big impact on app quality and performance. Testing in Production practices can lead to great new insights - potentially avoiding catastrophic system failures.

The major benefit of TiP is the ability to test aspects of production against real users, providing a controlled way of learning how the live environment - not to mention the people operating it -behaves under specific conditions of usage, failure, and stress. Take the example of the Netflix's Chaos Monkey, a subroutine that operates in the production environment introducing random errors like VM crashes and network interruptions. These manufactured bugs force developers to address significant error conditions and code around them. It also keeps an organization familiar with otherwise rare disaster situations that require system recovery and other operational solutions.

Other methods of TiP are used in different situations to allow you to see how small quantities of users react to a change, or how users react to two totally different products. Overall, the ability to test user and system behavior in real time is what is so attractive about Testing in Production.

What's Holding You Back?

It's natural to be cautious, though - we understand. If you are new to TiP, you may be concerned about some of its downsides. So here are five ways to temper various forms of risk that TiP introduces into your development process.

User Impact

When it comes to SaaS, users are your lifeblood. Without them there is no usage, no revenue, and no business. Obviously their experience matters above all else, so any testing we do in production simply cannot break the production environment.

In our last post about TiP techniques, we summarized a few methods that can be used to control the impact of testing on users: canary testing (introducing small amounts of code change and see if it works) and controlled test flights (seeing how users interact with intended changes in UI) are two key examples. Synthetic users also play a huge part in TiP, as they capture metrics that show what real users would experience when executing specific transactions in your product, without requiring real users to go through those user paths.

Another form of mitigating the effects of testing on real users is an old standby - the scheduled maintenance window. It's common to conduct load tests on a production system during low usage periods. However, even in these situations you are still impacting the users that are on the system at that time. Take this example we encountered recently: An educational software company was conducting a 10,000 virtual user load test. They scheduled it for off-hours when only 500 real users were on the system. However - those 500 users were still exposed to the product at its worst. Here's an example where notifying users that the system would be down for a short time could've protected everyone from a poor experience.

Security

Another common concern of testing in production has to do with security. Imagine introducing a vulnerability into a system because the code you deploy wasn't properly vetted. Or running a separate instance of your application for testing purposes on production equipment, only to discover that proper security steps weren't followed because the operations team wasn't completely aware of this dedicated space.

The best way to mitigate this risk is to begin the TiP process with a cross-functional mindset. You need input from your data security and operations team to make sure you are running your tests in a safe way. As part of a mature QA process, TiP can't be relegated to solely the domain of the QA group - instead, it must be implemented with the entire team in mind, so that it benefits the entire team. Over time, security can easily become a normal part of how the entire team approaches and implements the TiP process.

Accountability

One of the reasons that modern operations teams comprising of many people can effectively manage a complex production environment is a strong system for accountability. Changes are controlled and documented, and records are kept to make sure that if any problems arise, the root cause can be identified and fixed to prevent that mistake from happening again. However, this is not necessarily as common or as rigid a practice in QA as it is in Operations.

When it comes down to TiP, you need to merge common QA practices with common Operations practices. This means putting in place systems for accountability: keeping detailed notes, names, dates and case tracking. Work with your Operations teams to find an easy, non-intrusive way of introducing appropriate change control processes into the QA procedure. As an overall rule of thumb, treat the TiP environment as the production environment and you won't let your guard down in terms of accountability.

Ownership

The issue of ownership is a hot topic when Testing in Production because both the QA and the Operations group may claim to own the environment. This can be even further complicated if an issue comes during a TiP run, and someone has to relay the issue back to the development team. Now you have code that needs to be created, deployed in production, for the purposes of testing. It can be an ownership mess.

To address these concerns, build up good practices for communication and coordination across the whole team. Address ownership is typically less of an issue with the TiP process, and more commonly an organizational issue in the end. When the organizational roles and procedures are clear, you can begin to bridge the gap between QA and production teams for a trusting and productive working relationship.

Cross-Contamination

Lastly, testing in production can lead to cross-contamination problems. The nature of shared web services, is that one may impact others, even if the applications are virtually separated, due to the infrastructure components they have in common. Put simply, conducting testing on application 1 could cause unexpected problems on application 2 for which there is no obvious root cause.

This makes it important to monitor changes and be aware of the entire back-end. It is easiest to mitigate this problem by isolating each app during testing and alerting everyone involved when testing is occurring that may impact other applications. This also brings us back to how important it is to work alongside an operational team and improve site maintenance procedures in order to recover from a problem with cross-contamination.

Test Safely

There are many clear benefits to Testing in Production, and if you manage the process properly you can counteract the major downsides of TiP without too much effort. It's clear that security, accountability, security, ownership and cross-contamination can pose serious risks to the process, but using sound organizational, tracking and procedure during the ever-vulnerable test period should do the trick. Happy testing!

More Stories By Tim Hinds

Tim Hinds is the Product Marketing Manager for NeoLoad at Neotys. He has a background in Agile software development, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Testing practices.

Previously, Tim was Product Marketing Manager at AccuRev, a company acquired by Micro Focus, where he worked with software configuration management, issue tracking, Agile project management, continuous integration, workflow automation, and distributed version control systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on qua...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness. For more information, please visit https://www.cedexis.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Google Cloud has been named “Keynote Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Companies come to Google Cloud to transform their businesses. Google Cloud’s comprehensive portfolio – from infrastructure to apps to devices – helps enterprises innovate faster, scale smarter, stay secure, and do more with data than ever before.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vivint to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. As a leading smart home technology provider, Vivint offers home security, energy management, home automation, local cloud storage, and high-speed Internet solutions to more than one million customers throughout the United States and Canada. The end result is a smart home solution that sav...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Opsani is the leading provider of deployment automation systems for running and scaling traditional enterprise applications on container infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nirmata will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nirmata provides a comprehensive platform, for deploying, operating, and optimizing containerized applications across clouds, powered by Kubernetes. Nirmata empowers enterprise DevOps teams by fully automating the complex operations and management of application containers and its underlying ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Opsani is creating the next generation of automated continuous deployment tools designed specifically for containers. How is continuous deployment different from continuous integration and continuous delivery? CI/CD tools provide build and test. Continuous Deployment is the means by which...