SRE Opportunities Grow as Businesses Reopen and Reacclimate
As businesses grow on an upward trajectory and rethink digital priorities, site reliability engineers can expect to see yet another shift in their roles.
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Take one look at LinkedIn right now, and you’ll notice some of the most in-demand jobs include application developers and software engineers. After a deeper dive, you’ll find many companies across multiple industries are looking for site reliability engineers or SREs.
Earlier this year, I spoke to DevOps.com about the shifting role of SREs, primarily in “growth and maturity, increased diversification with domain-specific experts and new monitoring tactics.” Since then, I’ve been seeing several key shifts in the industry that signal that this role is only going to grow as the economy picks up speed again post-pandemic.
The evolution of applications has become paramount for the success and longevity of the overall business. A perfect storm has brewed where users are demanding intuitive, high-performing applications, yet the application topology has grown in complexity, sprawling out from legacy services to a myriad of multi-cloud technologies. Meanwhile, in the long-established siloed environments within many organizations, the role of the SRE has been instrumental in being collaborative as their role focuses on everything the application encompasses.
While performing a balancing act of risk to the business versus new innovations from the development teams, they really help keep processes in check and ensure the right business outcomes are the target of how they base their results.
What Exactly Does an SRE Do?
Google defines SRE as “what you get when you treat operations as if it’s a software problem.”
At its core this is true, but beyond Google’s definition, an SRE can best be described as the “Swiss Army Knife” of engineering. An SRE doesn’t just make sure a website’s working; their job is to understand the application at every level as well as all the dependencies, from the network and infrastructure down to the code and databases. SREs understand that failures will happen so they monitor based on an allowable error budget, which is negotiated with the business leaders prior to an SRE’s engagement.
More Apps Drive Greater Demand
In late 2019, analyst firm IDC predicted that by 2024, more than 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches. I would argue the pandemic has only exacerbated this trend, especially as businesses' reliance on applications skyrocketed and workers shifted to remote locations. Throughout the pandemic, approval and implementation cycles have also been greatly reduced to meet the high demands.
Now, as teams shift again from fully remote models into a hybrid work model, the importance of applications is at an all-time high.
Full-Stack Observability Can Give SREs Context
SREs teams have to be virtually all-knowing, and as companies implement hybrid approaches to work and operations, user experience, security, and application performance are now arguably at an equally high level of importance. An approach leveraging full-stack observability allows SREs to reliably monitor and improve applications, giving them the opportunity to work seamlessly with teams to address problems, remedy any issues and improve performance.
Beyond that, full-stack observability can give SREs the chance to put solutions in the context of a business’ overall goals, greatly increasing not just their results, but elevating their role into one with greater leadership and influence.
What Does It Mean for Developers?
For developers, a bigger role for SREs means more collaboration. Greater collaboration yields fewer silos, and reduced silos create better-performing teams. With the business context that can be provided by full-stack observability, SREs and developers can better communicate to pinpoint potential problems before affecting end users.
This relationship does not exist in a vacuum — it’s inevitable as applications grow more complex. SREs and developers can expect increased opportunities to come together and create better, faster, and stronger applications, allowing them to keep up with the shifting tides of application complexity and user demand.
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