Posted by: Brian | December 4, 2009

Wow. Microsoft Testing in Production. I wouldn’t have thought that.

I.  Am.  Amazed.

Before I discuss the source of my amazement, allow me declare my bias.  First, I work for IBM – and while there’s no poster in the lunchroom that says “Microsoft Bad” – there is definitely a strong spirit of competition here.  Parked in the bull’s eye on our competitive  dart board is Microsoft.   However, from a purely personal perspective, I have great respect for Microsoft.  I run Windows XP, I live in PowerPoint, and I generally respect their ability to run a software business.  I’ve even defended them when I thought they were unfairly attacked.

But…

This is too much.  Bing, the Microsoft search engine went dark for 30 minutes yesterday.  Why?  The following note appears on the Bing developers blog:

The cause of the outage was a configuration change during some internal testing that had unfortunate and unintended consequences.

Effectively, what they’re saying is that the were performing system configuration testing on a production system.   Whoa.  It’s one thing to perform functional testing on a production system; I can easily see how Microsoft testers would run Bing searches on their live system.  But to run configuration tests, where you are actively modifying configuration attributes on a production system – especially one of such strategic importance.  That’s risky – too risky, some might say.  That type of testing should be done in a lab, in house, in as close to a replica of the full production system as possible.  At least a scale model.  Microsoft has those types of resources.  Why that didn’t happen here, I can only imagine.  Surely, Microsoft knows better.  I hope.

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