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In the field of ITOps, site reliability engineering (SRE) is a relatively new job. They may, however, be extremely useful in maintaining infrastructure preparedness, preparing an emergency reaction, and assuring capacity so that your company’s digital and commercial sides are constantly in sync. Despite this, most companies rely on conventional software developers and system administrators to do the task.
Google was the first to recognize that wearing numerous hats isn’t necessarily the greatest strategy. As a result, in 2003, Ben Treynor Sloss (now Google’s VP of engineering) established the company’s first site reliability team, which grew to over 1000 site reliability engineers by 2016 .The idea was simple: train a top-notch staff in software development as well as system and networking experience so that you can balance on-the-ground infrastructure maintenance with high-level modernization.
So, for mid-sized to big businesses, the issue is: does it make sense to have a specialized SRE team for IT services, assuming you can afford it?
What are the responsibilities of site reliability engineers?
The task of the site reliability engineer is divided into two parts:
First and foremost, they must ensure that current systems are faultless and capable of handling whatever demand is generated by the firm.
Second, they’re in charge of strategic development, ensuring that your systems improve over time, grow more efficient, and are ready to serve the company’s projected business demands.
When it comes to managing an SRE job in a company, a balanced approach is usually necessary.
Inefficient Alternatives to SRE
Instead of using SRE, you might create separate teams for these tasks, bundling maintenance with the rest of your ITSM team and development with your larger software or DevOps team. However, there are some disadvantages:
- Lack of visibility could result in missed opportunities for improvement.
- There is the possibility of conflict between ITSM and software.
- Risk of cost leakage in case of effort duplication across teams.
- Digital transformation could potentially slow down teams that do not coordinate efforts,
- You could risk cost leakage if there is effort duplication across teams. In the long term, digital transformation may slow down if both teams do not have enough coordinated effort.
Four ways for businesses to get the most out of SRE:
Putting together a workable SRE function necessitates a structural and cultural transformation. At a high level, you rethink what it means to be a digital firm and place a greater emphasis on value creation than on ensuring business continuity. Site reliability engineers require a unique blend of engineering, infrastructural, and soft skills on the ground, making them a significant asset for any company.
Here are four ways to make the most of this opportunity:
- Strike a good balance
While a perfect 50/50 split is ideal, achieving it in real life is difficult. Responding to accidents and completing post-mortem analysis were the top two duties requiring a site reliability engineer’s time, according to a poll of SREs conducted in 2021. As a “moderate” priority, developing new applications or capabilities came in fourth, followed by knowledge/skill growth.
Determine a task balance that is viable for your business and customers, based on your organization’s needs. Then adjust the SLAs and SLOs as needed. It’s vital to highlight that for SREs, automation with less than 50% on operations should be the starting point.
Operational incidents tend to decrease as greater emphasis is placed on automation and building accelerators, leading in systems with excellent stability and reliability.
- Expand your skill set
Site reliability engineers are distinguished from pure-play TIOps or ITSM practitioners by their skill set. Business analytics, infrastructure as code, automation, and other components of product development are some of the areas where you might need to teach your existing workforce.
Indeed, finding site reliability engineers is the number one problem when converting to an SRE paradigm, according to Google. It is a constant source of stress for practically every company that outsources or undergoes digital transformation. It implies that when it comes to solving the talent deficit, the training strategy must be at the forefront.
In-house training and using an SRE organization’s support to help close the gap, in our opinion, is the ideal way to handle talent development and scalability.
Monitoring is an essential and critical part of SRE practice. It’s often the starting point for managing the overall system and services reliability. With dashboards of reports and charts, the team can monitor their work across four areas:
- The level of technical debt
- Effective prioritization
- The extent of collaboration
- Skill level of team members
Effective automation is instrumental to SRE sucess. It allows engineers to function outside of their routine, intrastructure-related jobs and focus on actual development. Investigating the causes of toil sheds light on what processes to automate.
- Create pipelines for observability
Through technologies such as telemetry, observability attempts to give software systems a specific structure or form. As a consequence, site reliability engineers can see what they’re working on in real time.
An SRE model must contain explicit SLOs for desired reliability levels and an error budget linked with them, according to the principles of observability. Every incident is funded from this budget, ensuring that incidents are resolved as quickly and inexpensively as feasible. Observability is aided by metrics such as SLOs and error budgets.
Providing a superior SRE experience
It means that systems do not run themselves (a point that is often overlooked owing to abstraction and the growth of digital), and site reliability engineers are the people who keep your business running smoothly. Toil is not only an impediment to an engineer’s work experience, but it is also a drain on your valuable SRE expertise in this context.
Thankfully, toil numbers have decreased from 40% in 2020 to 25% this year, indicating a shift in corporate views about the SRE function. And we need to keep continuing in this direction. Automated systems, tools such as AIOps, continually updated skill sets, and a culture of observability and collaboration can all help you:Empower engineers to resolve incidents with the least amount of time and money spent.
iVedha’s SRE practices brings innovation to your threshold. Our technical expertise of over two decades enables us to help you heighten your internal processes to the next level. Accelerate your digital transformation journey through our range of services. Contact us to find out more.