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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bohdan Tanyhin

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) vs DevOps

Benjamin Treynor Sloss, who is the founder of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE), once said: “Hope is not a strategy.” And he was right. A strategy is defined as having the plan to act upon to achieve short or long-term goals. That’s what we can achieve with DevOps and SRE. It’s about actions rather than hope. However, DevOps has a broader focus. It stands for Development and Operations. While reliable systems can be built with the help of Site Reliability Engineering - a set of principles and practices that are based on software engineering and can be applied to software development and operations.

Both DevOps and SRE are strategies that have different goals, focuses, approaches, use cases, and tools. We have explained DevOps culture in one of our previous articles. Therefore, let’s dive deeper into what Site Reliability Engineering vs DevOps is and what it can do for your business.

What is Site Reliability Engineering?

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) aligns closely with DevOps principles. It uses software engineering and automates operations tasks that system administrators carry out manually. For example, such tasks as:

  • production system management

  • change management

  • incident response

  • emergency response

These tasks can be carried out by a single software engineer or a team of qualified experts. In any case, the responsibility includes ensuring system availability, latency, performance, efficiency, change management, monitoring, emergency response, and capacity planning. SRE focuses on automation, system design, and improvements to support system resilience.

Aligning with DevOps principles makes SRE a certain part of DevOps, but it still has different objectives at its core. Let’s see what these differences are.

SRE   Operations   Prompt incident response   Postmortems and Learning from Failure   Proactive Monitoring and Alerting   Capacity planning’   Focus on Reliability      DevOps   Delivery-driven   Release automation   Environment builds   Configuration management   IaaC (infrastructure as a code)   Focus on Delivery Speed

These differences are so significant that it would be logical to figure out exactly which DevOps fundamentals SRE adheres to.

Site Reliability Engineering Principles

Monitoring of Applications

In SRE, monitoring software performance is a more reliable process than eliminating all the errors. The latter might still occur, so the team tends to provide service-level agreements (SLAs), service-level indicators (SLIs), and service-level objectives (SLOs). By observing and monitoring performance metrics after the application has been deployed, it is possible to provide quality and conformity.

Implementing gradual change

System reliability is maintained by the constant release of frequent and small changes. With the help of consistent and repetitive processes, it is possible to:

  1. Reduce risks that might occur due to changes

  2. Provide feedback loops to measure system performance

  3. Increase speed and efficiency of change implementation

Automating reliability improvement

SRE attempts to use various policies and processes to merge with reliability principles during delivery. Some of the problem-solving strategies from these policies and processes are:

  • Early issue detection by developing quality gates based on SLOs

  • Build testing automation using SLIs

  • Architectural decision-making to ensure system resiliency initially

How Does Site Reliability Engineering Work?

During the production stage, a site reliability engineer uses automation tools to monitor and observe software reliability. In addition, this expert has good coding skills and can find problems in a software product and fix them by altering the code. Formerly, a site reliability engineer was a system administrator or an operation engineer. The responsibilities of such a qualified engineer include operations, system support, and process improvement.

The tools a Site Reliability Engineer uses are:

  1. Container orchestrator. With the help of this tool, software developers run containerized applications on different platforms. Hence, a container is a single package, where containerized applications store their code files and other resources. For instance, Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service.

  2. On-call management tools. With the help of these tools, SRE teams receive timely alerts on software issues. Therefore, they can plan, arrange, and manage support experts to deal with the reported software problems.

  3. Incident response tools. These tools are helpful in categorizing issue severity and dealing with the most crucial ones first. In addition, you can have a post-incident analysis report, which may resolve the problem of similar issues occurring.

  4. Configuration management tools. The tools mentioned help automate software workflow by removing repetitive tasks. For instance, AWS OpsWorks sets up and manages servers automatically.

SRE metrics to adhere to:

  • Service-level objectives (SLOs): uptime, system throughput, system output, and download rate, which are quantifiable goals achieved at a reasonable cost. The delivery is done through software to the customer.

  • Service-level indicators (SLIs): actual measurements of the metric. Real-life situations may give out values that are different from or match the SLO.

  • Service-level agreements (SLAs): legal documentation including key information about procedures when SLO is not met. For example, if the team does not cope with the task within the set time.

  • Error budgets: SLO-based noncompliance tolerance.

Benefits of Site Reliability Engineering

  • Improved collaboration. SRE improves collaboration between development and operations teams.

  • Enhanced customer experience. SRE ensures the customer experience will still be positive even if there are software errors.

  • Better operations planning. Teams are always prepared for events they can foresee. Therefore, they plan the appropriate incident response to minimize the negative impact both on businesses and end users.

Choose Sencury for your Site Reliability Engineering vs DevOps Practices

Sencury also has our SRE consulting services to offer. Sencury's experience includes DevOps and SRE practices. We make strategic decisions on a concrete approach and build our development strategy on flexibility and mutual success factors. By consulting you on your system reliability we enhance your internal processes. We deliver applications and services at a high speed and give outstanding recommendations to prevent application errors and crashes. Our SRE consulting services combine cultural philosophies, practices, and tools.

Contact us to receive top-notch SRE consulting services on the market.

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