In business and IT management, there are always hyped-up ways of doing things that inevitably fade in popularity. But then there are those that stick around not only because they work well but also because they are highly applicable and continue to evolve with the times.
This is certainly the case with ‘Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)’. It started off at Google in 2003 as a method for guaranteeing the reliability and quality of software-powered products and services while simultaneously improving collaboration, speed, and productivity within the general timeline. Soon other companies were adopting it as well, and even after nearly two decades, it shows no signs of slowing down.
In many ways, site reliability engineers (sometimes called ‘SRE engineers’ or ‘SREs’) are the rockstars of the current digital landscape. They work closely with development and operations staff to automate key processes and establish responsibilities and deliverables for creating successful end results. They also take an active role in solving problems and suggesting further improvements.
With the popularity of SRE, experienced and qualified site reliability engineers can unlock tremendous career opportunities and fantastic salaries. However, a great deal of the strength of SRE comes from the fact that it has continued to evolve, not only in terms of the approaches it takes but also how businesses actually utilize it. If a candidate wants to enjoy the full benefits of studying SRE, they should make themselves aware of what to expect in the coming years, as well as how to keep an eye out for future developments and opportunities.
So, what does the future of SRE look like? Let’s take a look at what’s on the horizon for site reliability engineers.
How will SRE evolve in the future?
More businesses are seeing the value of SRE, but not everyone has their own teams to utilize. Many of these same businesses are also eager to avoid having to hire outside SRE teams. Part of this is because SRE is a continuous process that requires ongoing effort. The best way to take full advantage of this is to have people with the necessary skills close by.
There is no doubt that, with the increasing reliance on SRE, the already booming job market for practitioners will continue to grow. Engineers already had a huge presence in the pre-COVID market, and now that remote working has become the norm, it is easier than ever for candidates to learn and utilize the skills they need without having to necessarily relocate.
In short, not only will more businesses be looking for in-house SRE teams, but it will also be easier for skilled candidates to take on these roles.
SRE for all
In an ideal world, everyone would be able to enjoy the same setup as Google. All businesses would have world-class engineering talent on tap, as well as a sizable infrastructure in which to test and evolve new ideas. While this sadly isn’t the reality we live in, more businesses are attempting to utilize SRE, including smaller startups.
In order to do so, more companies will be hiring SRE engineers on a permanent basis. At the same time, however, it is also more likely that untrained staff will be offered the chance to learn SRE, or at least to pick up on certain tasks relating to the role. This simply means that there will be more room for anyone with the relevant skills or background to benefit from the popularity of the framework. Companies may even be more eager to invest in SRE training for software development and operations staff, as well as DevOps engineers.
SRE and DevOps have always been closely linked. They have far more similarities than differences and complement each other quite well, with the main distinction being how prescriptive they are in their approaches. In the future, more companies will likely be making sure they have SRE and DevOps engineers on hand to support each other in terms of automation, tracking, and other priorities.
However, it is worth pointing out that SRE can also benefit practitioners of other frameworks such as ITIL 4 and COBIT 2019. For example, SRE has a strong focus on business deliverables, with SRE engineers often acting as liaisons between stakeholders and various IT specialists. SRE tools like the Error Budget are also simple to understand for people with different areas of expertise. As time goes on, more companies will be eager to combine SRE with other approaches, giving SRE engineers an incentive to study other frameworks.
Even more automation
Automation is already a cornerstone of SRE, helping practitioners to optimize the speed and reliability of previously manual tasks. Site reliability engineers will automate whatever they can, and as software continues to move forwards, the potential for automation will continue to expand.
DevOps and site reliability engineers should always be on the lookout for new open-source software and other ideas that can be applied to manual tasks. In many areas, jobs that would’ve previously taken too much effort to automate can now be handled in this way. Priorities have also shifted, with elements like security and database management receiving far more attention now than they did when SRE first appeared.
This will create more work for site reliability engineers, especially in organizations that have only just adopted the framework. However, it will also leave them with fewer tedious manual tasks and more time for innovating and improving services outside of their usual scope. Engineers who keep an eye on advances in automation will be able to keep taking their businesses to greater heights.
The SRE community
With frameworks like SRE, practitioners have a lot to talk about. There are plenty of big names who regularly write or speak about developments and new points of focus, and there are even sizable conventions around the world.
These discussions hold invaluable insight into the future of SRE. Forward-thinking practitioners should keep on top of new developments in order to take advantage of them to get a leg up on the competition or adapt to changing conditions before they cause problems. This can be done by joining forums, attending conferences, and absorbing valuable free SRE training resources like whitepapers and videos. These habits will serve a site reliability engineer extremely well as they continue to advance their career.
According to Payscale, site reliability engineers in the UK earn between £37,000 and £94,000 annually on average, with additional room for bonuses. In the USA, meanwhile, the average is between $76,000 and $157,000. Even now, a surprising number of SRE engineers do not even need to look for work, given how lucrative SRE recruitment is becoming.
It is a given that, as SRE becomes more relevant and widespread, companies will offer more generous pay and advancement opportunities to find and retain the best talent. Candidates who focus on training and building experience now will undoubtedly see their investments pay off in the near future.
Unlike DevOps, the best practices and tools of SRE are rather prescriptive. This makes it easier to study SRE, whether as an individual or as part of a team. While many elements can be learned on the job, newcomers and businesses will find that accredited SRE certification courses will offer the easiest path to fully adopting SRE best practices.
Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider, as well as a Trusted Education Partner for the DevOps Institute. We create our courses with help from highly experienced subject matter experts to not only help candidates pass their exams but also gain a practical understanding of the subject matter.
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