SREs Take DevOps to the Next Level

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • SREs will play a key role in determining the shape of the DevOps pipeline.
  • Lack of quality SREs has hindered some containerized apps from moving into production.

The evolution of the DevOps pipeline highlights the importance of the software reliability engineer (SRE), as is increasingly evident amid the growing complexity surrounding the application lifecycle. This topic came up during last week’s Container World conference in Silicon Valley in reference to container management and orchestration. Enterprises need to invest in SREs whose operational expertise will take DevOps to the next level, as these experts strive to support new services to empower the knowledge worker.

The shift in operational roles from systems administrators to SREs has become most apparent in the cloud computing era within a DevOps model which dictates that technology and infrastructure components be delivered ‘as a service.’ This cognitive shift in the industry modernized application development and deployment. It also required those in traditional operational roles to be relentless in providing autonomy around each of the components of an application lifecycle.

Companies needn’t look far for examples of failed DevOps projects, many lacking adequate SRE professionals. When containers became available through platform services, operations teams familiar with traditional, VM-oriented data center technology struggled with how to take containerized apps into production; forget about microservices-based apps. Admins grappled with infrastructure configurations and limited management and orchestration capabilities.

As a result, more companies now look to SRE teams to grasp the intricate nuances behind modern app development and deployment requirements. SRE teams at Google, for example, consist of infrastructural teams, service teams, and horizontal production teams. They are made up of individuals with systems engineering or architectural skills. They collaborate closely with product development teams, ideally having involvement at the earliest stages of the application development process, in the design phase, providing input before lines of code have been committed.

We’ll be hearing much more on the importance of the SRE in the coming year. Software and cloud vendors in particular are keen to spur SRE discussions because their customers’ lack of investment in this burgeoning profession will inevitably throw a wrench into the entire modern application lifecycle process.

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