How to Time Travel in an RKE2 Container Environment

SANTA CLARA, CA. Monday, June 5, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT


Rancher Kubernetes Engine 2 (RKE2)

In recent years, the world of containerization has experienced a significant boom, with numerous container orchestration solutions emerging on the market. The diversity of those solutions empowers the developers to embrace containerization while finding the perfect fit for their projects in many unique use cases.

One of the more popular choices for users looking for additional security is Rancher, an open-source container management platform that provides a user-friendly interface to deploy and manage containerized applications across multiple Kubernetes clusters. A security enhanced version of Rancher, RKE2 (Rancher Kubernetes Engine 2), builds upon the powerful capabilities of Rancher and focuses on security and compliance within the U.S. Federal Government sector.

Challenges of Time Shift Testing

When developing and testing date and time sensitive applications in an environment such as RKE2, understanding their behavior across various time frames is crucial. Testing scenarios like month-end, quarter-end, and year-end, as well as billing cycles, debt collection, mortgage amortization, and payday testing, present challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the effectiveness of our initial planning. Additionally, testing during significant events such as regulation change days or marketing campaigns is equally vital. These pivotal moments in time play a fundamental role in enabling businesses to operate flawlessly and without disruptions.

Moreover, in the event that something goes wrong in practice, such as application failures or errors during critical time-sensitive processes, the consequences can be severe. It could result in financial losses, customer dissatisfaction, regulatory non-compliance, or missed business opportunities. By conducting thorough time-shift testing, businesses can identify and rectify potential issues beforehand, mitigating risks and ensuring the smooth operation of their systems when it matters the most.

When considering time-shift testing scenarios for applications running in an RKE2 cluster, it becomes essential to address numerous potential challenges. For applications depending on time-sensitive data, event triggers and time-based calculations, altering the system time of the cluster (if at all possible) can cause disruption of these dependencies, resulting in incorrect functionality or unforeseen errors. Additionally, interactions with external systems, services, or databases that rely on synchronized time may be impacted by system time changes, leading to synchronization issues, data inconsistencies, failed transactions, or interrupted communication.

In order to identify and resolve such issues, it is crucial to ensure comprehensive time-shift testing inside the relevant environments, thus guaranteeing accurate functioning and seamless integration of applications within the cluster. The most efficient way to achieve that is by using software virtual clocks which allow your containerized applications to see virtual time immediately without the ill-effects that accompany changing the system clock.

Software virtual clocks offer many benefits, such as enabling developers and testers to "self-serve" time traveling by themselves instantaneously, without the need to wait for infrastructure teams to shut down/restart and change the system clocks. This allows for much more productivity and saves hours or days per time change. They can also enable parallel testing of different target dates in the same RKE2 cluster, and this way also saves significant hardware and software costs and boosts productivity.

Software virtual clocks have a unique capability that are not available with a system clock, where a virtual clock can run faster or slower than real-time, which sets up special usage cases that were not feasible before. For example, a five-physical day simulation or reliability test can be done in one day with a virtual clock that is five times faster than real-time. On the other hand, testers can stay on the same virtual day for multiple physical days with a slower virtual clock.

Also, when incorporating software virtual clocks into a test script, 100% test automation can be achieved. The regression test can run by itself through thousands of test cases via multiple virtual clocks, without human intervention.

Time Machine ® and RKE2

Solution-Soft’s flagship product, Time Machine, creates software virtual clocks that you can use to time travel your containerized applications running inside the RKE2 cluster.

By simply adding the Time Machine container/pod to the same namespace where your target applications are, and following three straightforward configuration steps, you can effortlessly enable time travel for those applications, without the need to modify their container images or add a sidecar container to the same pod with them.

Moreover, the time-traveling capabilities facilitated by Time Machine are achieved without directly altering the system clock. Instead, through the use of software virtual clocks, precise control and manipulation of time within the application environment are enabled. This approach ensures that time-sensitive testing scenarios can be accurately simulated and evaluated without impacting the system clock. By utilizing Time Machine created software virtual clocks, developers and testers can confidently conduct time-based testing, optimize their application performance, and maintain the integrity of their RKE2 cluster's time synchronization.

The integration of Time Machine into the RKE2 cluster introduces a new level of flexibility and control, revolutionizing the testing process under time-sensitive conditions. This powerful capability allows for accurate and efficient testing, paving the way for optimized application reliability. Solution-Soft's seamless integration with RKE2 unlocks exciting opportunities to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of application development and deployment within these clusters, truly transforming the game.


About Time Machine

Time Machine saves ten-fold or more on resources and costs associated with temporal testing of applications. It enables you to finish your large scale software projects on time and under budget. Some other usage scenarios of Time Machine include Cloud migration, time zone adjustment, data aging, Big Data analysis and online training. Time Machine is the original date and time simulation software for Unix and Windows since 1997 and it is Cloud ready. Thousands of customers worldwide utilize Time Machine successfully across all industries on a daily basis; including 47 of the Fortune 100 companies.

About Solution-Soft

Solution-Soft is the leader in virtual clock, time shift testing software solutions for the ever changing digital world. Our flagship and market proven product, Time Machine, opened up brand new possibilities in the application testing landscape upon its release in 1997. Today, thousands of applications have been tested with Time Machine, and IT professionals recognize that using a virtual clock is the ideal and safest way to conduct date and time testing. As pioneer in our field, we've created the Time Machine Product Suite, a collection of cutting-edge testing software that augment Time Machine to further streamline enterprise cloud initiatives and IT simplification. The product suite offers a complete solution for end-to-end application testing, cloud migration, test automation, Agile/DevOPs, Continuous Operation, and Test Data Management. We proudly provide our 2000+ domestic and international customers, including 47 of Fortune 100 companies, our advanced solutions to optimize their testing and help deliver projects on-time. Solution-Soft's customers are across all market sectors including 3M, AMEX, Australia Tax Office, BBC, Boeing, British Gas, Covered California, Discover, Fed Ex, Federal Reserve Bank, French Telecom, National Australia Bank, and Zurich Insurance. We bolster our market presence through robust partnerships with companies including Accenture, Capgemini, Citrix, Delphix, DXC, FICO, HPE, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat and SAP.

Founded in 1993, Solution-Soft is privately held and based in Santa Clara, CA, for more information visit or call +1.408.346.1400.

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