A day in the life: What does a site reliability engineer do?

Escrito por el 16 febrero 2023

You can think of a site reliability engineer as part medic and part streamliner. They take shifts in the company’s on-call rotation, during which they act as designated responders who manually intervene if the infrastructure system starts to show symptoms. Off rotation, site reliability engineers spend a lot of time writing code, including a significant amount of automation tooling. Because anSRE teamtouches so many different parts of the engineering and IT organization, they can be a great source of knowledge and can be helpful for routing issues to the right people and teams. Thanks for the great explanation about the SRE role and its important value more advanced of the DevOps engineer.I have only one consideration to make, or anyway my personal opionion.

What does a Site Reliability Engineer do

When something goes wrong with a business’ website, how does it get fixed? You may imagine IT staff scrambling into a server room, fumbling through wires, sparks flying and choice vocabulary filling the air. Today, this kind of chaos can be avoided with site reliability engineering . Cloud-native applications are composed of microservices, packaged and deployed in containers, and designed to run in any cloud environment. Gain greater visibility into service healthby tracking metrics, logs and traces across all services in the organization, and providing context for identifying root causes in the event of an incident.

SRE bridges the gap between Dev and Ops

An SRE team may decide to standardize on one or two programming languages that everyone likes and knows. Alternatively, a team may inherit or create a system that uses multiple languages in multiple places, each chosen because a certain language is more efficient for a specific task while others work better for other tasks. So much depends on the people in the team and the system they support. Some may be asked to be the lead on one particular thing, but they will still have insight and access to other code in use across the team’s responsibilities. Because everyone takes turns being on-call, supporting the entire system or service and knowing where code exists and what it does is vital to making good, quick, and clear-headed decisions in a crisis. Discover how to orchestrate various SRE roles and responsibilities to build a best-in-class Incident Management program.

The focus, in recent times, has moved from hardware-specific dependency to SDI (software-defined infrastructure) – with zero human intervention – eliminating errors and inconsistencies inherent in manual processes. Knowing how distributed computing works and understanding the concept of microservices are both significant advantages for an SRE. You’ll be handling large, distributed systems, so having some experience with these topics can really help you get ahead in this career.

DevOps Engineer v/s Site Reliability Engineer

Similar to the point above, a site reliability engineer can expect to spend time fixing support escalation cases. But, as your SRE operations mature, your systems will become more reliable and you’ll see fewer critical incidents in production – leading to fewer support escalations. You can become an SRE regardless of your background in software or systems engineering, as long as you have solid foundations in both and a strong incentive for improving and automating. If you are a systems engineer and want to improve your programming skills, or if you are a software engineer and want to learn how to manage large-scale systems, this role is for you.

What does a Site Reliability Engineer do

Build the whole stack from load balancers to the databases, and then move and launch sites on every application release. Software developers can find good remote programming jobs, but some job offers are too good to be true. A culture of ownership isn’t a culture of assigning blame for failures or malfunctions. This encourages self-sufficiency and higher quality work — because if they break it, they also have to fix it.

Read more about DevOps on Red Hat Developer

A Site Reliability Engineer needs to understand how software solutions work, what causes them to fail, and how to balance the implementation of new features and maintain the stability of a web app. For example, suppose a business has an e-commerce site to sell sneakers. For example, the checkout process needs to pull information from a database regarding a repeat customer’s name, address, email address, shipping address, and credit card number. The USENIX organization has held an annual SREcon conference since 2014 for site reliability engineers in the industry, and also holds regional conferences with similar themes. A service level agreement is the percentage at which a service is required to run properly, as stipulated by contractual agreements. A service level indicator is the percentage at which a service runs properly.

Automating processes is even more critical as organizations speed up delivery of new features into production. On one hand, speed comes from DevOps teams who leverage automation to increase continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). On the other hand, the move to microservice architectures and the adoption of cloud-native technology, containers, Kubernetes, and serverless architectures offer even more ways to delivery smaller changes faster. These methods increase efficiency and speed, but also demand consistent, repeatable processes that reduce risk and provide feedback loops for measuring operations, so teams can identify areas for improvement.

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They do not have to necessarily be the expert in everything they do, but they must have a grasp on many different disciplines and know what steps and techniques to carry out when issues arise. They also have to understand how different roles within their organization work together in order to effectively carry out tasks and projects. It can be very frustrating and demanding sometimes, and pieces can sometimes go missing, but once you have finished it, there is a great deal of pride and accomplishment. The site reliability engineer career path typically starts with a few years of experience in website administration or operations before moving into a role as an SRE. With experience, SREs can advance into senior roles such as lead SRE or site reliability manager.

This is how long it takes for a service to return a response to a request. Some processes are more complex and take longer, but ideally a response should come as fast as possible. That is used to create the SLA, the promise the company makes to customers. Site reliability engineers tend to work across departments more than a traditional Site Reliability Engineer software engineer, and they perform proactive maintenance as well as incident response to ensure systems are up and running correctly. As Squarespace site reliability engineer John Turner put it, “it turns out that reliability is often a fairly complex problem,” and being able to drive the conversation can be key.

Principles and practices

SRE can help DevOps teams whose developers are overwhelmed by operations tasks and need someone with more specialized operations skills. DevOps is an approach to culture, automation, and platform design intended to deliver increased business value and responsiveness through rapid, high-quality service delivery. They also monitor critical applications and services to minimize downtime and ensure their availability. They will need to have knowledge of various automation tools as they are usually responsible for building and integrating software tools to enhance an organizational system’s reliability and scalability. Such automation allows developers, in turn, to focus exclusively on feature development enabling them to bring new features to production as quickly as possible.

What does a Site Reliability Engineer do

“You own sort of the meta level — the reliability, or velocity, or whatever the SRE contract is — but you don’t actually own the code … and that can be difficult. It means you need to communicate requirements and best practices in a way that doesn’t seem like a burden to service owners,” Anika Mukherji, a site reliability engineer at Pinterest, told Built In in 2020. So, let’s look at common site reliability engineering roles and responsibilities you can expect to see. Cloud operations, including application deployments with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, operating system patching, and maintenance.

A site reliability engineer is a software developer with IT operations experience— someone who knows how to code, and who also understands how to ‘keep the lights on’ in a large-scale IT environment. The principle behind SRE is that using software code to automate oversight of large software systems is a more scalable and sustainable strategy than manual intervention – especially as those systems extend or migrate to the cloud. How do site reliability engineers establish what constitutes acceptable performance? For instance, Pinterest uses an internal tiering system, which ranks services by stringency requirements. It can help you better understand the struggles of IT and support, making you a better developer going forward.

  • Our courses, Skill Paths, and Career Paths are a great place to start your SRE journey.
  • The good news is that SRE teams are set up for maximum success because of this combination of shared responsibilities and diverse membership.
  • Generally speaking, it takes about 2-3 years to become a site reliability engineer.
  • SRE fits right at the crossroads of IT operations, support and software engineering.
  • It means you need to communicate requirements and best practices in a way that doesn’t seem like a burden to service owners,” Anika Mukherji, a site reliability engineer at Pinterest, told Built In in 2020.
  • Some of the most common site reliability engineer tools include monitoring tools, configuration management tools, and automation tools.

Engineer monitors systems in production and analyzes their performance to detect areas of improvement. Engineer’s observations also help calculate the potential cost of outages and plan for contingency. There are numerous reasons why cloud-native businesses should consider hiring a site reliability engineer or a whole SRE team. They are a valuable addition to any existing DevOps culture as they bridge the gap between developers and IT infrastructure. Since they take part in software development, support, and IT development, this knowledge is no longer siloed but can be used to create more reliable systems. It’s possible that an entire Operations or Infrastructure team might be made up of an entire team of Site Reliability Engineers, instead of just Windows or Infrastructure Engineers.

An intensive, highly focused residency with Red Hat experts where you learn to use an agile methodology and open source tools to work on your enterprise’s business problems. SRE also relies on a foundation designed for a cloud-native development style.Linux® containers support a unified environment for development, delivery, integration, and automation. When coding and building new features, DevOps focuses on moving through the development pipeline efficiently, while SRE focuses on balancing site reliability with creating new features. The rest of the their time should be spent on development tasks like creating new features, scaling the system, and implementing automation. The development team conducts automated operations tests to demonstrate reliability.

For mission-critical systems, it is more common to have on-call shifts, where specific team members are designated as the point people for incidents during their work hours, rather than having people off-site being contacted. Of course, in a big incident, it may be an all hands on deck situation where everyone is called in. Each person who joins an SRE team comes with a past and with unique skills that fill in knowledge or experience gaps within the team. Some companies, like Google, hire SREs based on how well the person would fit in the SRE culture and how deep and useful their individual skill set seems. Only after being hired is the person assigned to an SRE team, typically a team that the company knows could benefit from the new hire’s skills.

An SLO for the required system reliability is then based on the downtime determined to be acceptable. This downtime level is referred to as an error budget—the maximum allowable threshold for errors and outages. SRE supports teams that are moving their IT operations from a https://wizardsdev.com/ traditional approach to a cloud-native approach. The concept of site reliability engineering comes from the Google engineering team and is credited to Ben Treynor Sloss. Separate code deployments from feature releases to accelerate development cycles and mitigate risks.


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