Welcome!

Mobile IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Even Netflix Goes Down Once in a While By @Neotys | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Thanks to their constant evaluation of cloud operations, the severity of the outage was not extensive

Even Chaos Generating Netflix Goes Down Once in a While

Where were you on February 3, 2015 at 3:40 p.m. PST? Snowed in? Desperately trying to refresh Netflix? If so, you weren't alone. It turns out even best and biggest companies experience failure from time to time. Despite the success of their Chaos Monkey approach to operations, the Internet streaming media provider experienced an outage for a little over an hour. Responses from users ranged from outrage to well, hysteria. You can read more about the media frenzy and see how the masses took to twitter to discuss here.

All was not lost however. Thanks to their constant evaluation of cloud operations, the severity of the outage was not extensive. Given the level of dedication Netflix has to constant self-improvement, you can be sure that in the future, they will be learning from this experience to stay on top of potential issues. That being said, we can still look at what Netflix has done right thus far, and how they maintain a service that so rarely has outages.

Method Behind the Madness: Netflix's Chaos Infrastructure
Netflix definitely subscribes to the saying: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Their strategy integrates quality assurance with the operational infrastructure. This combination provides for the ultimate chaos-proof product. In accordance with the best Testing in Production (TiP) procedures, this type of testing is conducted in a live environment, and familiarizes developers with uncommon situations on a regular, controlled basis. It also unites the QA team and operational team, which reduces miscommunication in the production process.

Netflix's Chaos Monkey randomly simulates the failure of various components within the application stack at random times. Engineers must be alert and ready to find a solution for future recovery scenarios. There's a method behind the madness. The genius is that by embracing failure, they actually reduce its potential to wreak havoc.

Netflix has found ways to function despite major hiccups. They keep operational processes at the forefront, reducing the amount of angry customers, as well as the potential for lost revenue. Some of their techniques include displaying popular picks instead of the entire personalized menu and making streaming the utmost priority. If Netflix can hold on to their ability to suggest and stream movies during a major outage, they've won.

Getting to the Root of the Problem
There's more logic beyond the chaos system than one might think. Netflix puts into practice the exact techniques for root cause analysis. To put this strategy to work, you must:

  • Define the issue at hand.
  • Discover why it happened.
  • Develop strategies to reduce the likelihood that the problem will happen again and assess potential risk factors.

Of course, of all of these steps it's the discovery process that is the most difficult. Here, Netflix instills the "5 Why's" principle, which means that they ask themselves five times why the problem occurred. Asking yourself "why" as many times as possible will encourage you to review the angle from all sides and get deep enough to see the roots of the problem. They ask themselves what circumstances were present which allowed or caused its occurrence? How can they change and manipulate those circumstances to prevent it from happening again?

In the problem solving phase, it is imperative to use data collection which provides information about the duration, direct impact and potential effects on other instances. By implementing this technique, Netflix spots weak points in their system and develops the automatic recovery system needed to strengthen them.

Gorilla Warfare and the Simian Army
Netflix's chaos-causing monkey is actually pretty serious business. The entire Simian army consists of several different monkeys who each have different tasks. As a unit the Simian army is responsible for causing a variety of failures within the cloud. The security of the cloud is tested by identifying any abnormal conditions and assessing Netflix's ability to function in spite of them.

Each service, or monkey, has its own specific role. Some of the most vital members of the troop include:

  • Chaos Monkey disables systems within groups. Despite its troublemaking ways, it only runs during business hours so that engineers are available to solve the problems as quickly as possible.
  • Conformity Monkey helps maintain status quo. He looks for instances within groups and disables them. The idea behind this practice is that the instances can be re-launched at a later date appropriately.
  • The Security Monkey is Conformity's right hand primate. His tasks are primarily two-fold: looking for vulnerabilities or security violations while checking SSL and DRM certifications for validity.
  • Janitor Monkey keeps the place looking neat. He trashes unused resources.
  • The Chaos Gorilla lives up to his name. This big guy simulates a full-scale outage of a complete Amazon availability zone.

The monkey team continues to grow to provide a complete cloud testing strategy. Best of all, the Simian Army is open-source and allows them to test the cloud's operation and security at any time.

Incorporate Simulated Users for Maximum Results
You may not be ready to deploy the entire Simian army, but there are lots of ways you can put in place your own early warning systems to keep cloud operations running as smoothly as possible. One great way of doing this is with products like NeoSense. NeoSense generates simulated users, which highlight weak spots in performance happening within business transactions in the production environment. The critical data these simulated users generate allows teams to spot problems before a catastrophic situation occurs. It also gives operations teams the ability to get working quicker, with more informed data so they can get systems back up and running.

Beyond Monkeying Around
Jokes aside, we can see that Netflix's strategies for cloud operational testing are right on target. They do more than allow developers to identify weak areas - they maximize testing for failure in real, everyday environments. By doing so, the emphasis is moved from dealing with paralyzing fear to building necessary solutions. This technique is applicable to a multitude of tech enterprises that need to provide the highest level of service for their demanding users.

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.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...