How to Implement SRE in an Organization

How to implement SRE in an Organization should be part of your IT approach whether your Organization is a startup or a large enterprise, to help manage the growing complexity of digital environments. Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) is an approach in which an organization applies the principle of software engineering to the management of IT infrastructure and operations which are traditionally perform by operation team, by managing and promoting service or application’s reliability, uptime, and performance.

While leading an engineering team at Google, Benjamin Treynor introduce the concept SRE in 2003, to solve the challenges of handling complex and large-scale system like advertising platforms, engine and email services. It involves automating processes to building, monitoring and alerting systems. The approach on how to implement SRE in an organization should include one of most important sector of an SRE’s job Service-level Objectives (SLO), Service-level Agreements(SLA) , and Service-level Indicators(SLI) SRE teams determine the launch of new features by using service-level agreements to define the required reliability of the system through service-level indicators and service-level objectives. 

SRE collaborate with other teams like the Development and Operations team (DevOps). When coding and building new features, DevOps focuses on moving through the development channel expeditiously, while SRE focuses on balancing site reliability with creating new features. Both SRE and DevOps work to bridge the gap between development and operations teams to deliver services faster. 

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Here are some things to take note on how to implement SRE in an organization:

1. Defining the Goals and Objectives of the SRE Team(s)

The first step on how to implement SRE in an organization, is to start by Identify what you want to achieve with SRE including improving availability and performance, either to improve the efficiency of operation teams or improve the reliability of the software system. This means ensuring that essential services are always available and functioning at optimal levels. It can imply defining and addressing likely effects that could cause interruption or slowdowns and implementing steps to prevent such problems. Once these goals and objectives have been defined, the SRE team(s) can focus on implementing the processes and tools needed to achieve them. The objectives and goal of SRE team(s) will depend on the priority of the organization.

2. Identifying and Prioritizing the Services and Applications

This is an essential step on how to implementing SRE in an organization. This process involves evaluating the organization’s services and applications for which the SRE team(s) will be responsible for and determining which ones are most critical to the business and need the most attention from the SRE team(s). Some examples of services and applications that might be a priority for the SRE team(s) include:

  • Core operation: These are the services that are primary activities of an organization provide to its customer that generate major revenue. They are core services the company is known for.
  • Customer-facing applications: are the software application and services that is designed for customers usage. It’s purpose is For providing feedback, Ensuring the reliability, managing information, obtaining customer support and performance of these applications is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Backbone components: These are the infrastructure components that support the organization’s services and applications. Examples include databases access components, logging and tracing, authentication and authorization, networking systems, and storage systems. Ensuring the reliability, improve maintainability, reduce complexity and performance of these components is essential to the organization’s overall operation.

3. Build an SRE team

When implementing SRE it is essential to create skilled team that is collaborative and supportive so they can work effectively with other teams in the organization.  The team should comprise of variety of skilled personnel and empower them, this should include software engineering, systems engineering, cloud computing, product management and DevOps. They monitor and observe to identify and respond to problem by collecting data from different source such as logs and metrics.

SRE teams are responsible for code spread out, that is, help develop codebase with a perspective that focuses on impacting reliability, to achieve this the SREs will have to be familiar with the code for entire interest of the organization. The will also focus on developing infrastructures, tools and keep them up-to-date. Likewise configured, and monitored, as well as the availability, emergency response, change management, latency, and capacity management of services in production. It is essential for the team to have adequate knowledge on  how to implement SRE in an organization, this is to ensure software errors do not impact customers experience.

4. Implement SRE Practices and Tools

To ensure that the SRE team(s) can continuously improve and meet the desired goals and objectives, it is essential to review and improve the team’s procedures and practices. There are numbers of ways that an SRE practice that can be optimize to improve reliability and scalability of software system, this include:

  • Regular retrospectives: A process in which the team(s) reviews its past experience and practices and discusses what has worked well and what could be improved. By regularly conducting retrospectives, the SRE team(s) can improve their performance over time, increase learning skill, and make changes to its processes and practices as needed.
  • Continuous learning and training: This is essential To stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices in SRE, the team(s) needs to engage in continuous learning and training. This might include attending conferences, taking online courses, pair programming, code reviewing or participating in professional development programs.
  • Adopting new technologies and techniques: The field of SRE is evolving rapidly in technologies and techniques, it is necessary for the team(s) to know these to stay competitive and effective. This might involve evaluating new tools and techniques and determining how they can improve the team’s processes and practices. Training and support should be provide for team on how to use new technology.

5. Measure and Improve Your Progress

This can be done by tracking progress overtime and asking for feedback. SRE teams use metrics to determine if the software consumes excessive resources or behaves abnormally. Metrics are quantifiable values that reflect an application’s performance or system health. Another important metrics for measuring success of SRE is uptime, this is to measure how reliable the system is and how it become unavailable to users, when SRE is properly implemented it reduce downtime and maintain uptime. Track error rate to identify areas where to improve the quality and reliability of  the organization. MTTR (Mean Time To Repair) is the average time it takes to resolve system . Track MTTR to identify where to improve incident response process.

Once SRE has been successfully implemented it is important to maintain the system  by monitoring and testing to make sure the system is still reliable

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