Presentation: Failure at Netflix Velocity

Track: The Art of Chaos Engineering

Location: Ballroom BC

Day of week:

Slides: Download Slides

Level: Intermediate - Advanced

Persona: Architect, Chaos/Resiliency/SRE, CTO/CIO/Leadership, Developer, General Software

What You’ll Learn

  • The ins and outs of incident management at global scale.
  • How to take these awesome ideas and successfully bring them to your organization.


Netflix is a strong believer in Chaos Engineering and the Velocity of Innovation. Most of the time, our customers never notice the former and appreciate the latter. Occasionally however…

Can not connect to Netflix. You press play and it doesn't work. You can't log in. Nothing is on the screen and Stranger Things Season 2 just released!

A behind the scenes look at how Netflix engineering teams think about failure. The tools, techniques, and training we use to shorten the inevitable failures of our systems and impacts to our customers. Come hear why we believe chaos is your friend, failure is guaranteed, and why our organization is better off having both.


What do you do day-to-day?


The majority of our time is focused on education, training, and follow up with other teams. We help them with instrumentation, metrics, actionable alerts, and best practices. The focus is really education and preparation.

When things do go wrong, we have a team of trained specialists that help coordinate efforts, manage communication, and keep the people involved on task and pointed toward the goal of stabilizing our service so our customers are happy and pressing their play buttons.


What is your motivation for this talk?


Netflix has learned a lot about how not to plan for and not successfully manage incidents. We like to share those things so others don’t have to learn the hard way about what we’ve found that does work.


Who should come to your talk?


Developers, engineers, managers, architects who build critical systems and want to sleep through the night.


What can people come take away from this talk?


The patterns and practices we apply for resiliency, incident management, and sanity.


What keeps you up at night?


The little, seemingly, inconsequential things. We found most engineers and organizations do well in the big things -- planning architectures, fork-lifting to new systems, and launching new products; most people wouldn’t dream of launching a new service or making a large code change on a Friday 11PM. However, pushing out a canary to a small portion of production traffic or changing a feature flag on quiet code path feel like no big deal, they’re small things. However, at our size and velocity, even a fraction of one percent of production traffic represents a lot of customers. It’s that numbness to what we perceive as small numbers or small changes that reduced our rigor and impede our ability to correctly reason about those changes. And, those, seemingly small or inconsequential changes that lead to customer or systems impact.

Speaker: Dave Hahn

Sr SRE, Reliability and Chaos Engineering @Netflix

Dave Hahn is a Senior SRE in the Cloud Operations and Reliability Engineering organization at Netflix. He has many years of experience in distributed systems, failures, and mis-attribution of complex problems to human error. Will talk for applause. Bad jokes likely.

Find Dave Hahn at

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