Flirting with Risk

25-minute Talk

We would have more reliable and resilient software systems if we approached testing them as a dynamic dialogue rather than a series of binary checks.

Virtual Pass session


10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Thursday 21st


Room F2 - Track 2: Talks




  • Tests that only have the output of "pass" or "fail" provide limited protection against production incidents.
  • Traditional test scenarios don't account for the inherent chaos of production.
  • Continuous reliability requires a more dynamic approach, where the responses of a system inform the tests that we run.
  • Practices like chaos engineering, fault injection, and fuzzing should be included in test scenarios.
  • Pairing testing with observability, whether you're testing in production or not, provides a feedback loop that identifies your system's tolerances.

A playbook for continuous reliability

We often follow a script when we test for reliability: a series of steps with a binary outcome. Either the SLO is met (a pass), or it is exceeded (a fail). On its own, this type of verification is insufficient when testing real systems. Instead, we need a more dynamic approach that allows for a larger range of outcomes.

Flirtation is more than just following a script. Flirtation is a conversation, a probing of the integrity of the rules of the game while playing it. When we flirt, we are observant, responsive, and open to possibilities. Good flirtation, like good testing, requires walking the line between safety and risk, ease and tension, consent and ambiguity. 

In this talk we discuss how practices like chaos engineering, fault injection, fuzzing, and observability help us explore the limits of a system and adapt to its responses. These alternative approaches, combined with the inherent playfulness of flirtation, improve the continuous reliability of complex, dynamic systems.

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