Software outages happen – but can we reduce the risk?

Testing has often been the poor relation, an afterthought, but things are changing, over the past few years outages have really impacted customers. Last week a computer outage at United Airlines delayed thousands of travellers (see the full Boston Globe Story) and earlier this year RBS had a software failure due to a software upgrade! This made the news, but for thousands of companies world-wide, outages can and do happen, they may not be so dramatic but they do impact reputation, end-user experience and can incur heavy financial losses. Since it’s a given that outages no matter what the reason can happen, it begs the question – can we do anything to reduce the chances of failure?

This of course depends on the outage type, a simple software upgrade can cripple a system and today with application delivery changes over networks (i.e. cloud, virtualization, mobile etc) more can go wrong. What can be done? British Airways recently tested their new application ‘Skylab’ prior to going live; they did this to mitigate the risks of downtime. Thomson Reuters, have implemented a comprehensive testing regime world-wide to make sure that any changes to their IT environment does not impact their end-users. This isn’t arbitrary, more and more companies are testing their applications, checking how software upgrades will impact the IT business process before making any actual changes. Does testing answer all the questions on outages? No, but it does go a long way in helping to know how any changes will impact your IT and your users and goes a long way to mitigating potential issues prior to going live. Testing isn’t just about testing new stuff, software updates, applications changes, in fact any changes to an IT or Network can be devastating if not properly managed. So don’t be uninformed – test and mitigate potential problems, testing is no longer the poor relation- as our IT landscape changes so does its importance.

To read about the testing done in any of the companies mentioned above go to: Case Studies