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Why Your Business Needs Site Reliability Engineering

Why Your Business Needs Site Reliability Engineering

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Hindered by unreliable systems? Site Reliability Engineers will keep it in check

In the age of digital services, system reliability is paramount. Conglomerates like Amazon deal with millions of online business transactions 24/7 and even a momentary system failure could cost them billions. Real-time customer expectations and the need for zero downtime have pushed the need for systems that are not just functioning, but also highly available and scalable. With so much money and data at stake, neither businesses nor customers can afford disruption to their online business exchanges. So how do we prevent, minimise, and resolve these errors? This is where Site Reliability Engineering comes into the equation.

Site Reliability Engineering is a discipline that combines software engineering and operations to build, deploy, monitor, and maintain systems that are both highly reliable and scalable. SRE teams are responsible for ensuring that systems are meeting availability SLAs, while also constantly improving performance and efficiency. To do this, they utilise a combination of code development, automation, and logging/monitoring tools. In addition, SRE teams often work closely with other engineering teams to develop new features and products in a way that doesn’t sacrifice reliability.

By utilising Site Reliability Engineering principles, businesses can build systems that are more reliable and responsive to customer needs.

 

 

The Origins of SRE

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) was first conceived by Ben Traynor Sloss, Google’s Vice President for engineering in 2003. At that time, Google’s website and business were part of the same unit but already fast evolving. By 2020, Google employed more than 2,500 Site Reliability Engineers around the world.

Sloss described SRE as “what you get when you treat operations as a software problem,” and, “what happens when you ask a software engineer to design an operations team.” In other words, SRE is a methodology for managing IT infrastructure and services that draws on the principles of software engineering. As such, it emphasises Automation and Monitoring over manual processes, and aims to prevent outages rather than simply responding to them after the fact.

The benefits of SRE are clear. By applying the principles of software engineering to IT operations, companies can achieve greater efficiency and reliability. In addition, SRE can help to identify and fix problems before they cause outages or disruptions. As a result, SRE has become an increasingly popular approach to managing IT infrastructure and services.

Why Do We Need SRE?

IT organisations that implement Site Reliability Engineering can experience significant benefits, including decreased mean time to repair (MTTR), less mean time between failures (MTBF), and faster product updates and bug fixes. SREs achieve these efficiencies by automating repetitive tasks and promoting communication between development and operations teams. As a result, organisations can improve their security posture while avoiding the costly errors that can occur when human beings are left to manage complex systems.

In addition, SREs can help to speed up the process of delivering new products and features to customers, as well as fix bugs more quickly. For organisations that are looking to improve their overall efficiency, SRE provides a proven methodology for achieving significant improvements.

SRE engineers play a vital role in ensuring the quality of IT service delivery, and their work is increasingly being automated. However, to be successful in this field, it is essential to be both confident with coding abilities and open to the challenges and possibilities that automated operations processes bring.

The benefits of automating SRE tasks are clear, with organisations reporting increased productivity and reduced costs. However, success in this area requires a dedication to continual learning and an openness to new ideas. With the right attitude, SRE engineers can make a real difference in the quality of IT service delivery.

Your SRE Team – Who’s Who?

Team Leader

The team leader sets out the agenda for the other team members, manages infrastructure architecture design and workflow updates.

System Architect

The system architect is tasked with ensuring the reliability of services, by analysing and implementing the right combination of IT components. System architects are responsible for building scalable and transparent infrastructure.

Digital Function Engineer

Infrastructure engineers have two key responsibilities, Dev tasks and Ops tasks. Their jobs are to troubleshoot and resolve any technical problems that arise as well as develop and implement system improvements and updates.

Release Manager

The release manager plans and releases code as well as rollback strategies where and when they are necessary. 

Monitoring Engineer

The monitoring engineer keeps a watchful eye on the four ‘golden signals’ – latency, saturation, errors and traffic.

Seven Things to Remember for Your SRE Journey

Rules & Guidelines

When it comes to successfully implementing SRE, having a set of well-defined rules and guidelines is essential. These should include things like expectations for workflow, submission deadlines for various tasks, strategies for documentation and communication, etc. These basic rules can help prevent miscommunication or disagreements among team members, thus ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Automation

With DevOps automation, you can also track resource usage and other key metrics over time, allowing you to measure performance and make adjustments as needed.

Cut Down

As an SRE, it’s important to be proactive in seeking out ways to improve the system. This means taking the time to step back and assess what is and isn’t working well and why. Dedicating at least half of your time to system improvement is essential for ensuring that the system is not just surviving but thriving.

Responsibility

In the fast-paced world of software development, it is crucial that teams work together seamlessly to quickly respond to any issues or problems that may arise.. Development teams should take responsibility for at least 5% of the ops workload.

Monitoring  

By using in-depth monitoring, businesses can get a more complete picture of their network performance and identify potential problems early on. This type of monitoring can be especially helpful in detecting issues that only occur under certain conditions, such as high traffic periods or when Certain applications are being used.

Preparation

Your SRE team must always be prepared for the worst. Create scenarios, prepare automated run books covering each scenario and then put them to the test to keep us alert and prepared. In the event of a major incident, you will be able to quickly and efficiently respond, minimising the impact on users.

Evolution

The steady evolution of software requires a constant influx of new ideas and fresh perspectives that can only come from constantly interacting with like-minded individuals. In this respect, allowing SREs to transition into developers can be hugely beneficial for both groups.

Embrace Risk

Companies that adopt an SRE team stand to gain a lot from this approach. By breaking down the barriers between software development and IT infrastructure, SRE deployment enhances DevOps-based strategies. This allows developers to continuously monitor and analyse their performance, enabling them to detect and resolve problems as soon as they arise. Moreover, by giving developers more control over IT services and infrastructure, SRE empowers them to focus on creating innovative solutions rather than putting out fires all the time. As a result, developers are encouraged to embrace risk in their work, which ultimately leads to long-term success for organisations. Thus, companies that embrace SRE inevitably reap its many benefits for aid in achieving sustainability and growth.