Getting a Clear Vision of SRE
As DevOps culture continues to overtake organizations, for many good reasons, there is an underlying approach to IT operations that has a simultaneous impact: site reliability engineering (SRE).
SRE is a concept that was developed back at Google and has quickly evolved as an independent strategy or philosophy for dealing with data management, decision making, and workflow automation. At its core, SRE focuses on taking processes or tasks that have traditionally been done either fully manually or with a larger amount of direct oversight and implementing them through engineering teams that use automated tools and solutions to streamline the workflow.
The primary goal of SRE is to establish scalable and reliable network infrastructures that are able to sustain more positive user experiences and customer satisfaction. It’s a highly valuable practice, especially for enterprises that rely on larger networks and heavy code-based tasks with IT teams and admins who must manage countless devices in a growing virtual landscape.
SRE & DevOps – Collaboration, Not Competition
SRE provides an essential connection between IT operations and software engineering, shoring up gaps and finding ways to improve system predictability and automation. This is why SRE has become increasingly adopted by worldwide enterprises wanting to support ongoing growth without losing stability to the complexity of data management.
How does this fit into the overall DevOps culture? There is a surprising amount of overlap between the two. Both DevOps and SRE want more efficient systems, higher performance outcomes, and reliable workflows. Both require specialized skill sets and intentional investment to see the best results. Both are reliant on innovative, tech-based approaches to deal with their respective problems.
The main difference is this:
- DevOps engineers primarily concern themselves with solving development pipeline problems in an organizational system.
- SRE experts aim to solve operational, scalability, and reliability issues within that same system.
This difference isn’t at all bad—it merely shows that those who are developing the software are not the same ones who tend to end up running it. Reliability at scale is a complex issue, especially as a network becomes more distributed and the endpoint periphery expands. Otherwise, organizations often struggle with outages and downtimes that affect their performance and brand reputation.
SRE Best Practices
Google highly recommends using SRE to better integrate DevOps within an organization, bolstering success on both fronts. By understanding SRE best practices, both sets of engineers and operational teams can achieve mutually beneficial goals. These best practices include:
- A primary focus on engineering
- Balancing digital transformation without sacrificing SLOs
- Monitoring via alerts, ticketing, and logging
- Rapid emergency response
- Adaptable change management
- Demand forecasting and capacity planning
- Provisioning, efficiency, and performance
An Alignment of Operational Priorities
SRE practices, in fact, empower DevOps more than ever because of how the two approaches align on multiple levels. These are seen in operational priorities as follows:
- Reduce organizational silos to help increase visibility and ownership across a system.
- Understand that failure is an essential part of the process, helping your teams learn and evolve.
- Implement change and transformation more gradually to help users adopt new features and use them to their fullest effect.
- Integrate automation tools and solutions to reduce or eliminate manual task management.
- Quantify all KPIs to ensure your teams are on the right track and your customers are getting the results they expect.
These common goals can help organizations unite their SRE and DevOps efforts without thinking they either oppose one another or that one should receive more investment than the other.
Taking Steps Forward with SRE and DevOps
With this understanding, organizations can move forward more effectively with the following considerations in mind:
- Deal with your organization’s unique culture – Just like DevOps, SRE isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. You must consider how your teams are structured, resource allocation, and what business growth priorities matter most.
- Don’t overcomplicate the process – Simplicity and predictability should be benchmarks of any SRE and DevOps changes, with focuses on transparent communication and streamlined workflows.
- Prioritize transparency and organizational collaboration – SRE and DevOps alike deal with accepting failure to learn and grow from it and optimize the system for the future.
- Keep your customers in focus – If you don’t keep customer expectations in mind, it can be easy to lose sight of what delivers the most value to those people who keep your organization in business in the first place.
- Take a comprehensive approach – Deal with system-wide change holistically, making sure every team and every user is involved in the transformation process.
How does your organization deal with SRE and DevOps initiatives? Contact us today to continue a conversation about SRE adoption and how it can impact your performance and productivity.