NYSE and United demonstrate need for better QA management

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Two of the most recent examples of technology malfunctions had the nation holding its breath while waiting to identify the cause and when business would be resumed. It seems like we're constantly reminded of the fine line we tread between optimal performance and a complete operational shutdown. This has come as a result of being more reliant on technology than ever before, but can also be a symptom of software and hardware that hasn't been appropriately updated or maintained, demonstrating the importance of QA management. Two of the most recent examples of technology malfunctions had the nation holding its breath while waiting to identify the cause and when business would be resumed.

Computer glitch silences NYSE for hours
The New York Stock Exchange is normally a bustling market where investors call out and take a chance on companies. However, the NYSE went silent Wednesday, July 8, as its computer systems went down. To make things worse, the downtime occurred during the middle of the day and the NYSE was only able to resume action shortly before the closing bell. The incident left traders helpless for four hours, and is expected to be a costly loss due to missed revenue opportunities along with reputational damage from the event.

United passengers grounded by malfunction
The same day, United Airlines was dealing with its own technical problems. The airline released a statement saying that the company suffered a network connectivity issue, in which a router decreased connectivity for various applications, Reuters reported. This incident grounded flights worldwide for nearly two hours. It's been estimated that 3,500 to 4,900 flights along with tens of thousands of passengers were affected by the malfunction. Many patrons had to reschedule their travel plans and others missed their connecting flights. This incident comes only a month after the airline grounded flights due to automation issues. It is instances like these that bolster the argument of indeed having an efficient quality assurance management in place.

Is it indicative of a larger issue?
As NYSE and United Airlines went down, many across the nation feared that it was an act of cyber terrorism. Fortunately, it was something a bit more mundane and easier to handle. However, these examples show that there is some cause for concern.

"These are incredibly complicated systems. There are lots and lots of failure modes that are not thoroughly understood," Jeff Schmidt, chief executive and founder of JAS Global Advisors, told the Los Angeles Times. "Because the systems act so quickly, you have this really increased potential for cascading failures."

These incidents show that test management within applications and operating systems is absolutely critical. Quality assurance professionals must constantly test hardware and software to ensure that such downtime doesn't happen, or that operations can be quickly restored with minimal disruptions. Doing so will decrease the likelihood of major shutdowns and lost revenue.