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What are Canary Deployments and Why are they Important?

Aug 25, 2022
Last Updated:
May 2, 2024
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What are Canary Deployments and Why are they Important?

Canary Deployment: the right way to test your code. Learn how these deployments allow you to test the waters before fully committing a build to production.

Table of Contents:

    Every modification to software comes with the potential for production problems. Application failures often have serious consequences which can result in a loss of revenue and a poor customer experience. Additionally, organizations constantly try to improve their services for a better customer experience. How can you minimize the chance of error and update your application with confidence?

    There are various ways to minimize the chance of error. It starts with development which can be by code reviews, test-driven development, or CI system tests. But there are certain problems that do not become visible, unless exposed to production traffic. In this blog, we will explore how Canary deployments allow us to test the waters before fully committing a build to production.

    What is Canary Deployment?

    Canary deployments allow us to see how applications react under production load.

    Canary deployment is a deployment approach that slowly delivers an application or service to a subset of consumers, so organizations can monitor the application under use and make modifications based on observations.

    working of canary deployment

    Once the change is accepted, the update is rolled out to the rest of the users. Because of this control, a canary release is the least risky of all deployment options.

    working of canary deployment

    Deploying Canary Versions

    Canary deployments require you to run two versions of the application simultaneously. The old version is labeled “stable” and the newer one “canary.” There are two ways to deploy the update: Rolling deployments and Side-by-side deployments.

    Rolling Deployments

    You install the changes in stages, mostly a few machines at a time. The other machines operate on a stable version. This is a more common and simple implementation of canary deployment.

    stages of rolling deployment

    When the canary version starts running on one server, a few users will notice the updates.

    stages of rolling deployment

    During this time you can observe upgraded machines, check for errors, performance problems, and listen to user feedback.

    With growing confidence in the canary version, it is installed on more machines, until they are all running the latest release.

    stages of rolling deployment

    Once you detect a failure or get dissatisfactory results, you can undo the change by rolling back the upgraded servers to their initial state.

    Side-by-Side Deployments

    In this method, instead of upgrading machines in stages, a canary version is installed in a whole new duplicate environment.

    Consider an application that runs on multiple machines, with a few services and a database.

    stages of rolling side by side deployment

    To deploy your canary version, the hardware resources are cloned. As soon as the canary version starts running in the new environment, it is released for a portion of the user base. This is made possible by using a router, a load balancer, a reverse proxy, or some other business logic in the application.

    stages of rolling side by side deployment
    5% of the users are sent to the canary version

    Here too, you can monitor the canary version and gradually migrate more and more users away from the control version. You will continue the process until you detect a problem or all users are on the canary.

    On completion, we remove the control environment to free up resources. The canary version is now the new stable.

    stages of rolling side by side deployment

    Advantages of Canary Deployment

    • Service Evaluation: You can evaluate multiple service versions side by side using canary deployments in real-world environments with actual users and use cases.
    • Cost effective: Because two production environments are not required, it is less expensive than a blue-green deployment.
    • Testing: Canary deployment can be used for A/B testing as it offers two alternatives to the users and selects one with better reception.
    • In-built Capacity Test: Normally, it is difficult to test the capacity of a large production environment. Canary deployments offer in-built capacity tests.
    • Feedback: With the release being made for targeted or a sample number of users, you receive invaluable input from real users and modify canary versions for improvements.
    • No cold-starts: Unlike new systems that take a while to start, Canary deployments build up momentum to prevent slowness of cold-start.
    • Zero downtime: Just like blue-green deployments, a canary deployment does not cause downtime.
    • Simple Rollback Mechanism: You can always easily roll back to the previous version.

    Disadvantages of canary deployments

    • Script Testing: Canary release scripting is challenging, since human verification and testing can take a significant amount of time, and the monitoring and instrumentation that is required for production testing may call for further research.
    • Complexity: Canary deployments share the same complexities as blue-green deployments like many production machines, user migrations, and system monitoring
    • Time: It takes time to set up a healthy canary deployment pipeline. However, once done right, you can do more frequent and safer deployments.
    • Deployment at an enterprise scale: An enterprise Canary deployment is difficult to accomplish in an environment where the software is loaded on personal devices. Setting up an auto-update environment for end users may be one method to get around this.

    Conclusion

    Canary deployment is a popular method because it reduces the risk of introducing changes into production, while also lowering the amount of new infrastructure that is required. Companies that utilize canary deployments can test new releases in live production environments without exposing all of their users to the most recent version of the software at the same time.

    What you should do now
    • Schedule a demo with Squadcast to learn about the platform, answer your questions, and evaluate if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    • Curious about how Squadcast can assist you in implementing SRE best practices? Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    • Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    • Schedule a demo with Squadcast to learn about the platform, answer your questions, and evaluate if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    • Curious about how Squadcast can assist you in implementing SRE best practices? Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    • Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    • Get a walkthrough of our platform through this Interactive Demo and see how it can solve your specific challenges.
    • See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management.
    • Share this blog post with someone you think will find it useful. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
    • Get a walkthrough of our platform through this Interactive Demo and see how it can solve your specific challenges.
    • See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management
    • Share this blog post with someone you think will find it useful. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
    • Get a walkthrough of our platform through this Interactive Demo and see how it can solve your specific challenges.
    • See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management
    • Share this blog post with someone you think will find it useful. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
    What you should do now?
    Here are 3 ways you can continue your journey to learn more about Unified Incident Management
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management.
    Share the article
    Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or LinkedIn.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    Compare our plans and find the perfect fit for your business.
    See Redis' Journey to Efficient Incident Management through alert noise reduction With Squadcast.
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    Compare Squadcast & PagerDuty / Opsgenie
    Compare and see if Squadcast is the right fit for your needs.
    Compare our plans and find the perfect fit for your business.
    Learn how Scoro created a solid foundation for better on-call practices with Squadcast.
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Learn how Scoro created a solid foundation for better on-call practices with Squadcast.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
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    What are Canary Deployments and Why are they Important?

    What are Canary Deployments and Why are they Important?
    Aug 25, 2022
    Last Updated:
    Aug 25, 2022

    Canary Deployment: the right way to test your code. Learn how these deployments allow you to test the waters before fully committing a build to production.

    Every modification to software comes with the potential for production problems. Application failures often have serious consequences which can result in a loss of revenue and a poor customer experience. Additionally, organizations constantly try to improve their services for a better customer experience. How can you minimize the chance of error and update your application with confidence?

    There are various ways to minimize the chance of error. It starts with development which can be by code reviews, test-driven development, or CI system tests. But there are certain problems that do not become visible, unless exposed to production traffic. In this blog, we will explore how Canary deployments allow us to test the waters before fully committing a build to production.

    What is Canary Deployment?

    Canary deployments allow us to see how applications react under production load.

    Canary deployment is a deployment approach that slowly delivers an application or service to a subset of consumers, so organizations can monitor the application under use and make modifications based on observations.

    working of canary deployment

    Once the change is accepted, the update is rolled out to the rest of the users. Because of this control, a canary release is the least risky of all deployment options.

    working of canary deployment

    Deploying Canary Versions

    Canary deployments require you to run two versions of the application simultaneously. The old version is labeled “stable” and the newer one “canary.” There are two ways to deploy the update: Rolling deployments and Side-by-side deployments.

    Rolling Deployments

    You install the changes in stages, mostly a few machines at a time. The other machines operate on a stable version. This is a more common and simple implementation of canary deployment.

    stages of rolling deployment

    When the canary version starts running on one server, a few users will notice the updates.

    stages of rolling deployment

    During this time you can observe upgraded machines, check for errors, performance problems, and listen to user feedback.

    With growing confidence in the canary version, it is installed on more machines, until they are all running the latest release.

    stages of rolling deployment

    Once you detect a failure or get dissatisfactory results, you can undo the change by rolling back the upgraded servers to their initial state.

    Side-by-Side Deployments

    In this method, instead of upgrading machines in stages, a canary version is installed in a whole new duplicate environment.

    Consider an application that runs on multiple machines, with a few services and a database.

    stages of rolling side by side deployment

    To deploy your canary version, the hardware resources are cloned. As soon as the canary version starts running in the new environment, it is released for a portion of the user base. This is made possible by using a router, a load balancer, a reverse proxy, or some other business logic in the application.

    stages of rolling side by side deployment
    5% of the users are sent to the canary version

    Here too, you can monitor the canary version and gradually migrate more and more users away from the control version. You will continue the process until you detect a problem or all users are on the canary.

    On completion, we remove the control environment to free up resources. The canary version is now the new stable.

    stages of rolling side by side deployment

    Advantages of Canary Deployment

    • Service Evaluation: You can evaluate multiple service versions side by side using canary deployments in real-world environments with actual users and use cases.
    • Cost effective: Because two production environments are not required, it is less expensive than a blue-green deployment.
    • Testing: Canary deployment can be used for A/B testing as it offers two alternatives to the users and selects one with better reception.
    • In-built Capacity Test: Normally, it is difficult to test the capacity of a large production environment. Canary deployments offer in-built capacity tests.
    • Feedback: With the release being made for targeted or a sample number of users, you receive invaluable input from real users and modify canary versions for improvements.
    • No cold-starts: Unlike new systems that take a while to start, Canary deployments build up momentum to prevent slowness of cold-start.
    • Zero downtime: Just like blue-green deployments, a canary deployment does not cause downtime.
    • Simple Rollback Mechanism: You can always easily roll back to the previous version.

    Disadvantages of canary deployments

    • Script Testing: Canary release scripting is challenging, since human verification and testing can take a significant amount of time, and the monitoring and instrumentation that is required for production testing may call for further research.
    • Complexity: Canary deployments share the same complexities as blue-green deployments like many production machines, user migrations, and system monitoring
    • Time: It takes time to set up a healthy canary deployment pipeline. However, once done right, you can do more frequent and safer deployments.
    • Deployment at an enterprise scale: An enterprise Canary deployment is difficult to accomplish in an environment where the software is loaded on personal devices. Setting up an auto-update environment for end users may be one method to get around this.

    Conclusion

    Canary deployment is a popular method because it reduces the risk of introducing changes into production, while also lowering the amount of new infrastructure that is required. Companies that utilize canary deployments can test new releases in live production environments without exposing all of their users to the most recent version of the software at the same time.

    What you should do now
    • Schedule a demo with Squadcast to learn about the platform, answer your questions, and evaluate if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    • Curious about how Squadcast can assist you in implementing SRE best practices? Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    • Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    • Schedule a demo with Squadcast to learn about the platform, answer your questions, and evaluate if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    • Curious about how Squadcast can assist you in implementing SRE best practices? Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    • Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    • Get a walkthrough of our platform through this Interactive Demo and see how it can solve your specific challenges.
    • See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management.
    • Share this blog post with someone you think will find it useful. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
    • Get a walkthrough of our platform through this Interactive Demo and see how it can solve your specific challenges.
    • See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management
    • Share this blog post with someone you think will find it useful. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
    • Get a walkthrough of our platform through this Interactive Demo and see how it can solve your specific challenges.
    • See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management
    • Share this blog post with someone you think will find it useful. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
    What you should do now?
    Here are 3 ways you can continue your journey to learn more about Unified Incident Management
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    See how Charter Leveraged Squadcast to Drive Client Success With Robust Incident Management.
    Share the article
    Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or LinkedIn.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    Compare our plans and find the perfect fit for your business.
    See Redis' Journey to Efficient Incident Management through alert noise reduction With Squadcast.
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    Compare Squadcast & PagerDuty / Opsgenie
    Compare and see if Squadcast is the right fit for your needs.
    Compare our plans and find the perfect fit for your business.
    Learn how Scoro created a solid foundation for better on-call practices with Squadcast.
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Learn how Scoro created a solid foundation for better on-call practices with Squadcast.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Discover the platform's capabilities through our Interactive Demo.
    Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    We’ll show you how Squadcast works and help you figure out if Squadcast is the right fit for you.
    Experience the benefits of Squadcast's Incident Management and On-Call solutions firsthand.
    Enjoyed the article? Explore further insights on the best SRE practices.
    Written By:
    Share this post:
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