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What is SRE and why is it useful?

Site reliability engineering (SRE) is rapidly becoming a critical, fast-evolving function in most organizations. Understandable, since modern internet users and customers expect continuous uptime and in-house processes can’t function properly without reliable and robust applications.

Site reliability engineering (SRE) allows companies and IT departments to monitor and improve the stability and quality of services that applications and sites offer, making the life of developers, end users and customers a lot easier. But what is SRE exactly? Why is it useful? What is the relation between SRE and DevOps? And how do you know if you and your organization are ready to embrace SRE? Read on and get the answers to these pressing questions.

What is SRE?

Site reliability engineering (SRE) is the practice of using software tools to automate IT infrastructure tasks such as system management and application monitoring. Key SRE principles are:

  • Application monitoring. This allows developers and SRE teams to monitor software performance in terms of service-level agreements (SLAs), service-level indicators (SLIs), and service-level objectives (SLOs) by monitoring performance metrics (latency, traffic, errors, saturation) after deploying an application in production environments.
  • Gradual change implementation by reducing change-driven risks, providing feedback loops to monitor system performance, and increasing the speed and efficiency of change implementation.
  • Reliability improvement through automation. Automated build testing and developing quality gates are important parts of this process.

The SRE team determines and sets the key metrics for SRE and creates a data-based error budget determined by the system’s level of risk tolerance. If the number of errors is low, the development team can release new features. Does the number of errors exceed the permitted error budget? In that case, the team will put new changes on hold and solve existing problems first.

Why SRE is important

Site reliability engineering has several benefits. Let us take a look at the most important ones.

Enhanced customer experiences

SRE allows development teams to automate almost the entire software development lifecycle. This means that they can put a stronger emphasis and spend more time on developing new features and improving customer and end-users experiences instead of fixing bugs all the time.

Improved collaboration

SRE has the potential to improve the collaboration between development and operations teams. Making rapid changes and improvements (the chief task of developers) and seamless service delivery (the main goal of operational teams) go hand in hand if you implement SRE tools and routines in a proper fashion.

Better and more efficient incident response

Because SRE involves continuous monitoring, it helps you devise better incident management strategies and responses, allowing you to minimize the impact of downtime on both business activities and the end users of applications.

What is the relation between SRE and DevOps?

SRE is pretty much the practical implementation of the popular and nowadays widely applied DevOps philosophy. DevOps is a software culture that strives to break down the traditional barriers between development and operations, improving collaboration and allowing organizations to speed up the pace of software update releases. SRE translates the theory behind DevOps to practical modes of operation.

Is your organization ready for SRE?

“Is my organization ready for SRE?” This is an important question if you want to reap the benefits of the practice. Digitally mature organizations that have already embraced the DevOps philosophy will have an easier time adopting SRE than companies that are still “juniors” when it comes to digital transformation.

The latter type of organization should first focus on making automation more generic, whilst the former should be able to develop SRE tooling and broaden the scope of their existing SRE teams quite quickly.

Site reliability engineering is one of Techspire’s DevOps services and main areas of expertise. That’s why we can help you get the best out of SRE. Interested? Just give us a ring at +31 (0)85 06 07 656 or email