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Google is famous for its search engine, but the company is about so much more. It explores new technologies and develops products of the future like driverless cars or elevators in space. We use Google products every day, so the company likely knows one thing or two about successful application development. 

Google is also the pioneering leader behind a growing movement called Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). The primary goal of SRE is to end the battle between operations and development. The movement encourages product accountability, innovation, and reliability - without the whole hallway drama that sometimes happens in development companies. 

What exactly is SRE, and what advantages does it deliver to companies when it’s brought in as a service? Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about SRE and how it could potentially benefit your company.


What is Site Reliability Engineering? 

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) is a software engineering approach to IT operations. SRE teams use software solutions as tools for managing systems, solving problems, and automating operations tasks. 

So how does it work exactly? SRE takes a closer look at tasks that have historically been completed by operations teams, very often manually. Instead, these tasks are given to engineers or DevOps who use automation software to solve problems and manage production systems. 

That’s why SRE is such a valuable practice for creating scalable and highly reliable software. It helps companies to manage bigger systems using code that is much more sustainable and scalable. System administrators no longer have to deal with thousands or hundreds of thousands of machines. 

The primary idea behind SRE is the balance between releasing new features and ensuring that they are reliable for users. That’s why SRE depends so much on standardization and automation. It’s also great to support teams that want to move from a traditional approach to IT operations to a more innovative, cloud-native approach.


What does a Site Reliability Engineer do? 

An SRE engineer usually has a background in software development with some extra operations experience. Sometimes system administrators or people who performed IT operations roles can become site reliability engineers. The job of an SRE engineer is to manage how code is deployed, configured, and monitored. They are also responsible for change management, availability, emergency response, and capacity management of all the services in production. 


What technologies are used to support SRE? 

SRE takes advantage of automation solutions that help to streamline operational tasks and standardize them across the entire application lifecycle. That’s why so many SRE teams turn to cloud-native development styles and solutions. One of them is containers that support a unified environment for development, delivery, integration, and automation. 


SRE vs. DevOps – what’s the difference? 

This is one of the most commonly asked questions about SRE services. DevOps is an approach to automation, culture, and platform design - the goal of which is delivering increased business value and high-quality service delivery. 

That’s why you can think of an SRE as an implementation of DevOps. Just like DevOps, SRE prioritizes culture and teams. They both work towards filling the gap between development and operations teams to deliver a faster application development lifecycle, improve reliability, and cut the time required for application development. 

However, there is one crucial difference. SRE relies on an on-site reliability engineer who is inside the development team. These people also have an operations background, so they remove any communication barriers. The role combines the skills of the development and operations teams - it requires an overlap and responsibilities. 

SRE can be incredibly helpful to boost teams where developers are overwhelmed by operations tasks and need someone with Ops skills. And in terms of rolling out new features, DevOps prioritizes moving through the development pipeline fast while SRE focuses on balancing site reliability with building new features. 


What is managed SRE or SRE as a service? 

The SRE approach to cloud infrastructure management and software development prioritizes automating the environment in line with the principles development teams use when writing code. This means that all the infrastructure settings are described in a text file stored and versioned in GitHub. There’s no better embodiment for Infrastructure as Code (IaC) than this. 

Managed SRA or SRE as a service is delivered by expert IT companies that have SRE and Ops specialists on board who are skilled in cloud-native technologies. Not every company out there has an IT department that includes DevOps engineers - not to mention professionals who can bridge the gap between IT and operations. That’s why many enterprises turn to external providers and ask them to deliver SRE services when needed. 


Key benefits of SRE as a service

  • You get instant access to high-quality SRE expertise and experience - Providers who deliver SRE as a service usually have lots of experience in dealing with products of different sizes. Their specialists are well aware of the common challenges and can support your internal teams in any capacity. 

  • High availability and industry best practices - An external SRE team can step in to optimize your product or service as well as its underlying infrastructure. The idea is to enable teams to respond in a timely manner and cost-effectively to any changes in demand. Managed SRE ensures the high availability of all your digital products and services to boost the end-user experience. 

  • Addressing bottlenecks - Discovering an operational or structural bottleneck may generate high costs. This is where SRE can help. By hiring a domain expert, you can be sure that such bottlenecks are identified and removed early on. 

  • Reliability assessment service - SRE engineers are often part of the entire digital transformation journey. They’re usually brought in early to assess the enterprise infrastructure, platforms, and applications in line with the best SRE practices. They recommend optimizations around the onboarding and offboarding of internal and external customers, securing control access to services and resources with the right roles, and server management for hardware or software changes. 

  • You get reliable system architecture and design - Thanks to diverse skills and years of experience in reliability engineering, external providers can recommend the best-in-class solutions to help you jump on the autonomous scaling bandwagon and achieve higher availability. An external SRE team will help you make sure that your platform is designed and implemented in line with the Continuous Integration model. 

  • Optimizing reliability - Another important service from managed SRE teams comes in the form of triage and resolving reliability issues related to application, platform, database, and infrastructure. Such teams can migrate on-premises workloads to the cloud, identify and address existing defects in cloud architectures, and automate manual tasks to save operational time.


Site reliability engineering best practices


Tight coupling of code and infrastructure

The SRE methodology brings together the entire software development, deployment, and monitoring lifecycle and offers 24/7 availability for its customers. In an ideal scenario, it’s a cross-functional practice where developers are involved in releasing and monitoring the very software they write. 


Nonstop monitoring and real-time updates

One of the greatest benefits of SRE is accelerated product updates and monitoring. For example, SRE engineers can build a solution that automatically sends product updates without any downtime or maintenance windows required. The system supports developer productivity and releases software in rapid cycles. A team can quickly release a new update and roll it back if there’s a problem. 

SRE teams are capable of monitoring a large number of systems and automated processes. Experience teams build operational excellence over several years and fine-tune their processes to help companies handle the dynamic changes in their industries. 


Enterprise-grade security

SRE managed services usually take security protocols seriously. They follow best practices and guidelines for security and are audited in line with local standards. SRE teams often come with certifications to ensure in-depth security practices in designing and providing software packages. Some providers also have commercial security intrusion tools and do ongoing scans to make sure no misconfiguration happens without their knowledge. 


Conclusion

Most modern application platforms are based on technologies such as microservices, containers, and cloud-native solutions like Kubernetes. To make it all work, development, and operations need to work together smoothly. And that’s what SRE is all about. 

Enterprises should get interested in SRE services because they translate into a much higher quality of products and deliver an excellent experience for their users. 

Are you looking for SRE as a service? Contact us to learn more about its advantages.