Feeds

Netflix lets free simian software for cloud chaos

Angry ape kills virtual machines at random

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Streaming video provider Netflix has released Chaos Monkey, its homegrown tool that's designed to boost the resilience of cloud-based applications in the bluntest way possible: by knocking them down.

"Do you think your applications can handle a troop of mischievous monkeys loose in your infrastructure?" asks Netflix's Cory Bennett and Ariel Tseitlin in a blog post. "Now you can find out."

The way Chaos Monkey works is conceptually fairly simple. It runs as a service on Amazon Web Services (AWS), where it seeks out Auto Scaling Groups (ASGs) of virtual machine instances. When it finds one, it picks one of its virtual machines at random and terminates it.

At first blush, this may sound like the most maddening piece of software ever, and if a hacker figured out a way to use it maliciously, it could probably cause someone some real headaches.

But Chaos Monkey is a tool, and the reason it runs around your network like a psychopathic ape is because in reality, system failures are one of the most common types of problems the people who manage cloud services must deal with in everyday life.

The point isn't to pull the plug on virtual machines for the fun of it. The point is to ensure that even though the plug has been pulled on a server or two here and there, the overall system is resilient enough to keep running anyway.

"Failures happen and they inevitably happen when least desired or expected," the Netflix developers write. "If your application can't tolerate an instance failure would you rather find out by being paged at 3am or when you're in the office and have had your morning coffee?"

Netflix has made the source code for Chaos Monkey available on GitHub under the Apache open source license. The company says it's just the first of a family of tools it calls the "Simian Army" that it plans to release to the public.

Like Chaos Monkey, the others – including Latency Monkey, Conformity Monkey, Doctor Monkey, Janitor Monkey, Security Monkey, 10-18 Monkey, and the unnervingly-named Chaos Gorilla – are all designed to root out unseen problems in cloud architectures.

The company says Janitor Monkey, which searches for unused resources and disposes of them, is the next likely candidate for release.

But even these tools can't guarantee 100 per cent uptime for cloud-based appplications. During the large-scale AWS outage in June, Netflix was knocked down along with several other customers. Still, Netflix reps say they're confident that the company's rigorous resiliency testing, using the Simian Army among other tools, is the right approach.

"We take our availability very seriously and strive to provide an uninterrupted service to all our members," Netflix developer Greg Orzell wrote in a postmortem of the outage. "We're still bullish on the cloud and continue to work hard to insulate our members from service disruptions in our infrastructure." ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.