Netflix outage shows brand vulnerability to software, network issues


So, your company accounts for 53 percent of all streaming TV subscriptions, and 127 million users count on you to watch their favorite shows, and you’ve just dropped a new season of a wildly popular superhero series. What’s the worst that could happen?

For Netflix, the worst-case scenario happened recently, when its service was interrupted for some three hours on a weekend when millions of people wanted to settle in and watch some TV, notably the release of 13 Luke Cage episodes.

Twitter, of course, blew up, with some 13,000 posts from all over the world.

While Netflix customers were upset, competitors likely had this reaction:

Netflix hasn’t said what caused the untimely outage. Some have speculated that the huge demand triggered by Luke Cage overwhelmed servers. The episode also was reminiscent of Netflix’s 2012 nightmare before Christmas, which was reportedly caused by developers at Amazon Web Services, for some crazy reason, running a maintenance process against production data.

No matter the cause, the latest Netflix disaster provides several takeaways for c-level executives at any company today.

Above all, you risk serious brand damage and competitive disadvantage if your technology team lacks the ability to perform critical testing in an unlimited, safe way. Service Virtualization gives companies that ability, and if you’re not at least looking into it, you’re leaving your company exposed to potential disaster, whether your business is streaming TV or selling blue jeans or designing critical software for jet aircraft.

Service Virtualization is the practice of capturing and simulating the behavior, data, and performance characteristics of dependent systems and then creating a virtual copy of those dependent systems. Those virtual copies, which behave precisely as a live system, can then be used independently of actual, live systems to develop software without any constraints. Thus, software can be developed and deployed faster, with lower costs and higher quality.

In terms of what has happened at Netflix, it also can help you ensure that your servers will hold up to 100x — or 1,000x — usual traffic because you can test for any imaginable scenario.

And with SV, your developers will never have to put your critical production environment at risk by testing or running maintenance processes. All of that can be done in safe, secure environments that mimic the real thing and never endanger actual data or processes.

We’re not picking on Netflix. Truth is, this happens all the time. And it could happen to you if you’re not ready. The question is what steps you’ll take to protect your customers — and your shareholders.

If your team doesn’t have the right tools to do the job, how will you explain it when your software fails?