Canary Deployment Strategy: Benefits, Constraints And How It Can Be Used For Application Traffic Management

The way we develop application software has changed as a result of continuous integration. However, a CI environment differs from a production environment, and synthetic tests aren’t always sufficient to uncover issues. Some problems don’t show up until they’re in production, and by then, the harm has already been done. We can use canary deployments to test the waters before diving in.

The process of staging releases is known as canary deployment. We start by releasing a software update to a select group of users so that they can test it and provide comments. The update is given out to the rest of the users once the change is accepted.

Canary deployments show us how real-world consumers react to application modifications. The canary technique, like blue-green deployments, allows for no downtime upgrades and simple rollbacks. Canary deployments are smoother than blue-green deployments, and failures have a smaller impact.

Companies frequently release beta versions of their products in the hopes that tech-savvy or power users will download and try them out. In a canary deployment, we apply the upgrade in our systems and divide the users into two groups. The canary will be used by a tiny fraction of them, while the remainder will remain on the old version as a control.

Comparison with Blue Green and Phased Deployment

Blue Green Deployment Rolling/Phased Deployment Canary based Deployment

Blue and Green are two identical production environments that run in parallel. Only one of them is operational and serving all traffic at any given moment, while the other is idle. When the software enters its final stages of development, it is tested in an idle environment. All traffic will be rerouted to the new software after the final testing is completed.

A rolling release staggers software deployment across several phases, gradually replacing an old program with a new one. The upgraded software is added to one server (or a group of servers) at a time, rather than creating a whole duplicate setup as in blue-green deployment.

As with blue-green deployment, canary deployment entails first installing a new code application in a segment of the production infrastructure for testing. This testing environment, however, is not entirely duplicated.

Then it uses the stepwise strategy of rolling deployment to expose a subset of customers to the new software once it has been approved for release. As the software’s functionality is confirmed, the number of users routed to the new application grows over time.

Advantages of canary based deployments

A/B testing: The canary can be used for A/B testing. In other words, we provide two options to users and see which one receives the best response.

Capacity testing: Testing the capacity of a big production environment is impossible. As we gradually shift people to the canary, any performance concerns we have in our system will become apparent.

Feedbacks: App developers receive vital feedback from real users.
No cold starts: New systems can take a long time to get up and running. To avoid cold-start sluggishness, canary deployments gradually gain velocity.

Minimal downtime: There is no downtime with a canary deployment, as there is with blue-green deployments. We can quickly roll back to an earlier version if something goes wrong.

Watch Canary deployment in action(No Install, Self-Serve)

Challenges associated with Canary Deployment

Let’s take a look at some of the challenges with canary deployments.

Testing Challenges: Although canary deployment allows for live group testing, some of those users may be turned off if they encounter major bugs in the application.

Costs: side-by-side deployments are more expensive since they require additional infrastructure. To keep expenses down, cloud resources can be spunned on-demand.

Complexity: Canary deployments have the same complexities as blue-green deployments in terms of complexity. Managing a large number of production units, transferring users, and monitoring the new system are all difficult responsibilities.

Time: It takes time and effort to put up a good canary deployment pipeline.

Application Traffic Management through canary deployment technique on F5 LTM, GTM

Application traffic management is critical when carrying out a canary deployment. The given application might be operating on multiple servers and traffic regulation if done manually can be error prone and may result in application down time. Given the complexity in managing network resources, it is best advised to use an application delivery platform that gives App centric visibility, Insights into resource availability and Intelligent Traffic Management.

Automate, Orchestrate & Self-Service Your Application Delivery

AppViewX ADC+ gives you

  • Real Time Visibility into the Traffic Statistics going into the Data Centers

ADC+ has customizable, real-time dashboards that offer a complete view of your applications. One can easily filter and search for specific applications and get detailed information about any object on your network, including relationships with other objects (LTM, GTM servers).

Real time visibility into the traffic statistics going into the data centers

  • Dynamic Traffic Management and Routing of Application traffic

Dynamic Traffic Management and Routing of Application traffic

  • Self-Service and Automation of Application Services

Self-service and Automation of Application services

  • Ensure Continuous Integration and Delivery of Applications

ADC+ application service orchestration significantly reduces configuration errors and service request processing times and improves application performance and availability. NetOps teams do not need to configure each service separately during application changes.

Canary Based Deployment is a common but important technique that should not be left to be managed manually else it could hamper the seamless user experience of your applications and negatively impact business. With increased traffic, network teams need real-time operations visibility through a single dashboard and No-code workflows which can help accelerate automation of application lifecycle management (ALM) across multi-vendor environments (F5, NGINX, AVI etc.). ADC+ Canary workflow not only makes configuration changes reliable but super easy to manage.

Automate your network!

Tags

  • Application Delivery Controller
  • Application Traffic Management
  • blue green deployment
  • Network Automation

About the Author

Arpit Rastogi

Associate Manager - Product Marketing, AppViewX ADC+

Arpit is part of the product marketing team for AppViewX ADC+. He likes to write about network automation and the challenges related to application delivery control.

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