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Reducing Risk by Testing Every Change Where It Matters, in Production

Testing directly in production gives teams a clear understanding of how a change behaves. Pairing this with the ability to limit who sees a change in production means a superior developer experience and a better user experience.


The webinar replay titled “Reducing Risk by Testing Every Change Where It Matters, In Production” focused on the topic of testing changes in a production environment to minimize risks. The presenter, Ariel Perez, Vice President of Engineering for Measurement and Experimentation at Split, discussed the power of testing in production and the limitations of pre-production testing. The webinar covered various aspects of testing, including the use of feature flags, alpha and beta programs, and the combination of feature flags with data analysis. It emphasized the importance of understanding the differences between staging and production environments and highlighted the challenges of replicating production conditions in a staging environment. The presenter also provided insights into the strategies and tools for testing in production, such as integration tests, canary releases, monitoring, traffic shaping, and more. The webinar aimed to help participants harness the benefits of testing in production while reducing risks and improving the overall quality of their software systems.

Key Takeaways

  • Testing in production is crucial: While pre-production testing is essential, it is not sufficient to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of software systems. Testing in the production environment allows for real-world user scenarios and uncovers issues that may not be encountered in staging environments.
  • Feature flags enable controlled testing: Feature flags, also known as feature toggles, provide a powerful mechanism to control and toggle features on and off in production. By using feature flags, organizations can perform controlled rollouts, progressive delivery, and targeted testing to specific user groups.
  • Staging environments differ from production: Staging environments often have limitations and differences compared to the production environment, such as smaller clusters, different configurations, and fewer users. It is important to recognize these differences and understand that staging alone cannot replicate all production scenarios.
  • Testing strategies in production: The webinar discussed various testing strategies that can be implemented in production, including integration tests, canary releases, load testing, configuration tests, shadowing, exception tracking, monitoring, profiling, chaos testing, and more. These strategies help uncover issues, monitor performance, and ensure the system’s stability.
  • Progressive delivery and user feedback: Progressive delivery involves gradually expanding the impact radius of a feature, starting with internal teams, alpha and beta testing, and eventually reaching a broader user base. Gathering feedback from users during alpha and beta stages is valuable in refining features, identifying bugs, and aligning with user expectations.

Overall, the webinar emphasized the importance of testing in the production environment, utilizing feature flags for controlled rollouts, and adopting a range of testing strategies to reduce risks, improve software quality, and enhance user experiences.

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