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What is Chaos Engineering?

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Ask any project manager, developer, or team leader. Several things can go wrong during the software development life cycle, such as glitches, cyberattacks, and system outages. Unexpected failures are bound to happen, which can disrupt the entire process, limit results, and waste vital resources.

Resiliency and performance engineering

In our digital world, challenges can arise at any moment. For example, a system outage or software failure may cause applications to be unavailable. Fortunately, performance engineering and chaos testing can minimize the impact of unexpected events. Rather than waiting for errors to happen, software teams introduce chaos events in a controlled environment. This method helps you quickly identify defects or vulnerabilities that you may not have found during traditional testing.

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Chaos Engineering

Chaos engineering is a discipline that studies how these failures can occur and provides methodologies to help avoid them. By understanding the root cause of failures, chaos engineers can develop plans to prevent or mitigate them.

Chaos engineering is not about creating chaos; it's about using controlled experiments to identify potential points of failure in a system before they cause problems. By doing so, chaos engineers can proactively prevent outages and other disruptions.

What exactly is Chaos Engineering?

Chaos engineering is the practice of intentionally injecting faults into a system to test its resilience. The goal is to identify potential failure points and correct them before they cause an actual outage or other disruption.

There are many ways to create chaos in a system, but the most important thing is to have a plan. Without a plan, it's easy to create more problems than you solve. When creating your plan, you'll need to decide what you want to test and how you're going to do it. You can then start experimenting once you have a plan.

Software developers can easily introduce chaos engineering into their workflows by using multi-purpose OpenText™ performance engineering solutions like OpenText™ LoadRunner Professional. Not only does this solution leverage performance load testing, but it makes it easy to run other chaos engineering experiments directly within the software.

By creating these events in a controlled non-production environment, you can test how your system reacts and identify any potential problems.

Once you've identified potential failure points, you can start working on mitigating them. This might involve adding monitoring or logging to help identify issues when they occur or changing your design to make it more resilient to failures.

What are Chaos Engineering principles?

The principles of chaos engineering are:
Plan: Decide what you want to test and how you're going to do it. The goal here is to create a hypothesis. What could go wrong in a system? What are some potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited?
Experiment: Inject faults into the system and see how it reacts. Fault injection is simply the process of introducing a problem into an existing system to expose a vulnerability. It’s essentially the habit of “throwing a wrench” into a system on purpose to see what happens.
Analyze: Use the data from your experiments to identify potential failure points.
Mitigate: If you find an issue, you can end your experiment to focus on mitigating it. Otherwise, you can scale your experiment until you’re at the crux of the issue.

What are the benefits of Chaos Engineering?

So why would any company break things on purpose? Exposing system flaws is necessary to make it more robust. Chaos engineering can help you avoid outages and other disruptions. By identifying potential failure points and correcting them before they cause problems, you can proactively prevent disruptions.

In addition, chaos engineering provides several customer, business, and technical benefits. The main benefit is allowing companies to create stronger products that will impact their bottom line and meet customer expectations.

How is Chaos Engineering different from testing?

Chaos engineering is different from testing in a few key ways. Chaos engineering focuses on finding potential failure points before they cause problems. Testing, on the other hand, focuses on verifying the system works as expected. In short, chaos engineering is proactive while testing is reactive.

Chaos engineers work to prevent outages and other disruptions by introducing and correcting controlled failures before they could cause problems in a live environment. These controlled failures help identify which parts of the system are more resilient and which need more work. Testing can only verify that the system works after it’s finished.

Which companies use Chaos Engineering?

Here are a handful of companies that have embraced chaos engineering to proactively prevent outages and disruptions:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Stitch Fix

Chaos engineering has become a cautionary tale, specifically pointing to businesses that have lost millions of dollars because of software issues. For example, the Knight Capital Trading Group, a trading firm based in the U.S., lost more than $400 million because of a software glitch.

One of the most notable examples of chaos engineering was implemented by Netflix. Netflix encouraged its engineers to develop recovery mechanisms to bolster its platform. Particularly, Netflix implemented Chaos Monkey when they migrated their systems from physical server warehouses to the cloud.

Chaos Monkey was designed to “terminate” their servers during business hours, keeping their engineers on their toes to fix these issues immediately. This enabled Netflix to proactively learn about the vulnerabilities of transmitting their streaming services over the cloud and accelerate their problem-solving process in real-time.

As a result of these efforts, Netflix was able to avoid major outages and solidify its reputation as a preeminent streaming giant.

How is Chaos Engineering similar to OpenText LoadRunner Professional

LoadRunner Professional is a tool that primarily focuses on a specific type of performance engineering experiment: OpenText™ performance load testing. Using LoadRunner Professional, you can deploy advanced load testing that simulates real-world usage conditions, which can help you identify potential load performance issues before they cause problems.

But LoadRunner Professional isn’t simply a performance engineering tool that runs load tests in a stable environment; it’s a tool that combines both performance engineering and chaos engineering into one platform.

LoadRunner Professional works directly with Gremlin, a renowned failure-as-a-service (FaaS) platform that enables you to create different types of chaos events such as CPU spikes, network latency, and disk failure. You can easily organize and initiate Gremlin chaos experiments directly within the LoadRunner Professional platform and run load tests based on abnormal conditions.

Overall, LoadRunner Professional enables you to proactively prevent load disruptions during different types of chaos events. And by identifying potential failure points before they cause problems, this tool can help save time, money, and valuable resources.

Put Chaos Engineering into effect with OpenText LoadRunner Professional

Ultimately, chaos engineering is the impetus of any successful software project. Software developers can implement chaos engineering to carry out projects that will stand the test of time.

Through OpenText's partnership with Gremlin, LoadRunner Professional can test the performance of systems under load and different chaos events simultaneously, enabling you to find potential failure points and correct issues proactively. Get started with your free community edition of LoadRunner Professional today.