Leveraging Chaos Engineering To Test The Resilience Of Distributed Computing Systems

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Let us start by first understanding what distributed computing systems mean. The term may seem somewhat alien. But a look into some well-known case studies will show how familiar you are with the technology. In distributed computing systems, multiple computers work together as a powerful single computer to resolve a common problem. They are extensively used to help solve complex problems. For example, a distributed system can handle innumerable transactions per second. It is also extensively used for image analysis, gene structure analysis, and medical drug research in the healthcare and life sciences industry. Further, engineering-based solutions developed by a software development company leverage distributed computing systems to simulate complex mechanical and physics-related concepts. These are just a few use cases. Today, a distributed system is popularly used across industries like finance, energy, environment, etc.

Distributed systems offer multiple benefits over single computing systems. Some critical advantages include scalability, availability, consistency, transparency, and efficiency. Top software development companies in USA leverage chaos engineering to ensure the resilience of distributed computing systems. This elevates the system so they can offer the above-mentioned benefits. Let us look at what chaos engineering entails.

What Is Chaos Engineering, And How It Affects Distributed Computing Systems

This is a new concept. It helps build the resilience of distributed computing systems and improves their ability to withstand unexpected disruptions. Read on to know how.

Chaos engineering leverages the chaos theory to achieve this. Further, the chaos theory introduces random and unexpected behavior in a controlled manner to identify system weaknesses. How does it benefit organizations? By enabling them to identify system vulnerabilities even before they actually occur. As a result, an organization can proactively adopt measures to plug potential vulnerabilities and improve system stability.

However, developers associated with a premier software development company use an innovative approach to chaos engineering. They try to identify potential threats and points of failure by breaking and breaching distributed computing systems. Hence, they will take apart an existing system using the failure mode. Then, they will analyze potential system loopholes to gain insights that they can leverage to plug the loopholes.

Sometimes, distributed computing systems suffer from resource shortages or single failure points. Developers can integrate chaos engineering to test for system behavior and implement design changes to eliminate them before they occur. After implementing the changes, developers will again test the system to verify the results and their desirability.

Chaos Engineering Concepts That Improve The Efficiency Of Distributed Computing Systems

If you look at its core concept, it deals with purposefully taking apart a distributed computing system. Developers analyze the information collected to improve system resilience. Hence, this concept is ideally suited for modern distributed computing systems and processes. Further it can also be taken to be an innovative and practical approach to facilitating quality assurance in software development.

All computers involved are linked within a distributed computing system and share network resources. But even such a powerful system is also prone to errors and failures in unexpected situations. The more complex the system, the higher the unpredictable dependencies. The sheer size of the system can also cause random events to occur. This makes it difficult for a custom software development company to predict and troubleshoot errors.

Developers can intentionally simulate or generate random turbulent conditions by leveraging chaos engineering. This helps them test the system and find potential vulnerabilities like:

  • Blind spots that make it impossible to gather data for monitoring
  • Hidden bugs that can cause the entire system to malfunction
  • Performance bottlenecks that require elimination to improve system performance and efficiency

As enterprises and organizations move towards leveraging the cloud, their systems will also become more complex and distributed. This is also true for software development methodologies that emphasize continuous delivery. The complexities associated with these methodologies will prompt the implementation of chaos engineering concepts to enable system resilience.

Chaos engineering vs. stress testing

The concept might look similar to stress testing but they are not the same. There are some key differences. For one, the concept leverages the chaos theory to proactively identify system or network issues and correct them. It also tests and corrects all components at the same time. Here, developers associated with a software development company in New York tend to look beyond possible causes and obvious issues. They try to search for random issues that are less likely to happen but can cause immense damage when they occur. They aim to gain knowledge and insights about the system. When implemented within distributed computing systems, such insights help elevate their quality by making them more resilient to failures and cyber-attacks.

Chaos Engineering: The Process Involved And Best Practices

Let us quickly explore the processes involved. We will also understand the best practices a software development company in USA can implement. Typically, the chaos engineer process for distributed computing systems involves:

  • Setting the baseline to define the normal working state of the system and specify its working under optimal conditions
  • Formulating a hypothesis for potential weaknesses and their impact on the distributing computing systems as a whole
  • Testing the system for bugs, errors, and issues to gauge the effect of large spikes on the system and analyze any errors or unexpected cause-effect relationships that crop up
  • Evaluating the system to understand how the formulated hypothesis will hold up and determine the priority of issues to solve

This helps developers understand a whole gamut of things. Some of them might be ones they are aware of, while others might be those that they cannot comprehend as yet. Implementing “what if” scenarios further help them trigger system faults and failures so they can evaluate and measure system integrity and resilience.

Core principles of chaos engineering

Let us look at some core principles that chaos engineers follow when it comes to improving the resilience of distributed computing systems. These pertain to certain fallacies that software developers associate with distributed systems like:

  • The network of a distributed system is reliable
  • There is absolutely zero latency
  • It has an infinite bandwidth
  • The network security is unquestionable
  • There is never ever any change in the topology
  • The system has only one admin
  • The system has zero transportation costs
  • The network of the distributed system is completely homogenous

These assumptions form the core principles of chaos engineering for distributed computing systems. They are also the reasons for the seemingly unexpected issues, errors, and bugs found within complex systems.

Best practices of chaos engineering

Best practices that a custom software development company developer can implement to overcome these fallacies and improve system resilience include:

  • Gain a solid understanding of the system to enhance diagnosis accuracy
  • Simulate real-life scenarios by purposefully injecting likely failures and bugs
  • Testing the distributed systems using real-world conditions to improve result accuracy
  • Minimizing the blast radius and running the experiments at times when services remain available, even if these experiments result in issues

Software developers can increase experimentation accuracy and efficiency by integrating them within their chaos engineering strategy. As a result, distributed computing systems will become more resilient and effective.

Conclusion

Chaos engineering is a powerful tool. A software development company can leverage it to enhance the resilience of distributed computing systems. But, it must understand the core principles and integrate the best practices properly to facilitate result accuracy. This will further improve the efficiency of the implemented measures to counter the potential impact of threats, issues, and bugs.

Pratip Biswas
Pratip Biswas, is the Founder and CEO of Unified Infotech, a New York based tech-company which has been featured in Deloitte Fast 500| Fastest growing tech companies in 2018. His company is working with Enterprises, SMB’s and Start-ups to improve their efficiency through Digital Adoption and help them discover new possibilities through constant innovations.

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