xMatters Open-Sources Chaos Engineering
May 22, 2019

xMatters has open-sourced Cthulhu, a chaos engineering tool that allows DevOps teams to design resilient, self-healing services across hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures.

As more and more organizations move to a distributed systems model, chaos testing has become a leading-edge methodology for enhancing reliability. A major challenge, however, lies in executing these tests comprehensively across complex IT environments. Cthulhu enables automated cross-platform failure orchestration, using a data-driven approach to simulate complex disaster scenarios. This allows organizations to design more robust systems that better anticipate failure and — more importantly — improve self-healing mechanisms to accelerate automatic recovery.

“Microservice architecture can provide many benefits in scalability and functional encapsulation, but can also generate complex failure scenarios due to service dependencies. Chaos engineering can help expose these issues before they manifest themselves in production,” said Tobias Dunn-Krahn, CTO of xMatters. “Cthulhu exposes critical gaps in the self-healing ability of systems so that engineering teams can continuously re-fortify their applications against failures and keep the business running smoothly.”

The development of Cthulhu has been spearheaded by xMatters developer Gabrielle Gasse, who first identified an internal need to efficiently orchestrate failure experiments across xMatters’ varied infrastructure, which uses a mix of both virtual machines and Kubernetes deployments.

“No such tool existed that would allow us to comprehensively test failures across the multiple components of our environment, so we decided to build it ourselves — and then share it with the world,” said Gasse. “We’re excited to introduce Cthulhu to the developer community, and hope to engage and collaborate directly with those who will actually use and benefit from it.”

Cthulhu is designed to be extensible and easy to add to any platform. Startups can benefit from building better foundations from the get-go, while enterprises and established companies can rapidly identify critical areas for improvement and prioritize product roadmaps.

Core features of Cthulhu include:

- Cross-platform failure orchestration to automatically run random failure scenarios in any environment and on a schedule.

- Version-controllable scenarios so that once a vulnerability is identified, engineers can easily reproduce it in different environments.

- Automated communications to allow select team members to monitor the evolution of failure experiments and insights gained through targeted notifications.

Cthulhu is the second no-cost tool offered by xMatters. Last year, the company also released xMatters Free to allow smaller teams of up to 15 users to benefit from select collaboration features with no expiration date.

Cthulhu is available now.

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