Service Virtualization and API Testing

Cynthia Dunlop

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Rollback as a Quality Strategy: The ‘Pink Slime’ of Continuous Delivery

Users may not appreciate being the guinea pigs in your continuous delivery testing process


A recent article by Wayne Ariola in SD Times begins:

Not all organizations face the same business risks associated with application failure, and the cost of software quality certainly varies across industries. Remember: The cost of quality isn't the price of creating quality software; it’s the penalty or risk incurred by failing to deliver quality software. Given that, one thing that doesn't vary is the fact that organizations that test in production don't necessarily advertise that they're relegating a large part of their quality process to unsuspecting customers.

All too often, application updates in a continuous-delivery process are tiered. Updates are premiered at the lowest tier, using the lowest-priority clients as guinea pigs who unwittingly serve as real-time user-acceptance testers. If this real-time user-acceptance testing doesn't indicate any major problems, the updates are then pushed out to higher-value customers.
However, if the "early adopters" report significant issues in the updated version, the organization rolls it back, tries to resolve the problems, and then starts the tiered process all over again. The organization recognizes that they are putting a certain percentage of their users at risk, but they consider this a necessary evil for getting the release out into the field.

Do you remember when the media exposed the use of "pink slime" as a meat additive? If not, you can see this video for a refresher course on all the grizzly details. Organizations leveraging their unconsenting and unaware users as QA are the equivalent of the meat industry using pink slime: It's an unpleasant business reality that they would prefer to keep hidden.

Although the use of pink slime might have been a "cash cow" for the beef industry for many years, the exposure of this practice has already driven at least one beef producer to bankruptcy and forced the industry as a whole to think long and hard about whether the business risks are truly worth the cost savings. Likewise, backlash stemming from the current media spotlight on software failures—both functional glitches and security breaches—is starting to force our industry to reassess the true cost of quality for software.

It continues to explore how using your customers as real-time user acceptance testers can be a business strategy—and how you can mitigate the inherent risks if you decide to pursue this strategy. We strongly encourage you to read the complete article: Rollback as a quality strategy: The ‘pink slime’ of continuous delivery. After all...

"Ignoring this sea change regarding tolerance for faulty software is now a tremendous business risk: a risk equivalent to McDonald's resuming the use of pink slime now that the public is all too aware of what that entails."

Attend the SDLC Acceleration Summit: May 13, 2014 in South San Francisco

SDLCAccelerationSummitIf you'd like to explore challenges related to Continuous Testing, Continuous Release, and Continuous Delivery in depth, we encourage you to attend the SDLC Acceleration Summit: a forum for development managers, software architects, quality engineers, and other stakeholders to ask questions, share ideas, and discuss best practices.

Some of the world's top software development companies, including Electric CloudPerforceSkytapParasoft, and more, will facilitate discussions about industry trends and innovations to help you ensure software quality, security, and reliability while accelerating the SDLC and achieving business objectives.

More Stories By Cynthia Dunlop

Cynthia Dunlop, Lead Content Strategist/Writer at Tricentis, writes about software testing and the SDLC—specializing in continuous testing, functional/API testing, DevOps, Agile, and service virtualization. She has written articles for publications including SD Times, Stickyminds, InfoQ, ComputerWorld, IEEE Computer, and Dr. Dobb's Journal. She also co-authored and ghostwritten several books on software development and testing for Wiley and Wiley-IEEE Press. Dunlop holds a BA from UCLA and an MA from Washington State University.