14 Jan 2021 Back to all articles ↵

Why Site Reliability Engineering matters?

#business #sre

Web services that bring revenue need to stay online with no interruptions to ensure success. Rapid product development and frequent feature releases negatively affect website availability unless done with extreme caution. This is where an SRE team comes in - they ensure uninterrupted service delivery regardless of the scale of your product.

A good Site Reliability Engineer is a combination of a highly skilled server administrator and a profound programmer. Their thorough understanding of system fundamentals, networking, cloud services and web frameworks allow them to identify and resolve complex reliability issues that far exceed the scope of product development. They also assist programmers to help them optimize development processes and ensure the code they write fits high‑traffic environments.

The typical responsibilities of an SRE team include:

  • Designing, configuring and maintaining highly efficient infrastructure for hosting applications, websites or other services. Current technology lets anyone deploy their site with just a few clicks, but organizing it so that it can handle high traffic, big data volumes or work uninterruptedly, takes much more effort. SREs are experts in organizing servers and related infrastructure at a large scale and they can implement an optimal design that matches your budget.
  • Responding to unpredictable incidents, and resolving availability issues. It is unreasonable to expect all outages can be prevented, so responding to unexpected problems is one of SRE’s responsibilities. Their thorough knowledge of the platform and applications, as well as comprehensive preparations done in advance allow them to quickly address issues when every minute translates to lost revenue. An expert in this area will also have a lot of experience troubleshooting and debugging highly complex issues that span many services so that they never give up just because a problem gets too convoluted.
  • Monitoring platform performance, which not only helps improve user experience by identifying bottlenecks in website response times but also helps anticipate, predict and prevent more impactful platform issues. Good monitoring guidelines allow scheduling maintenance to match business constraints and minimize customer impact according to your SLA.
  • Adapting existing services and platforms for high traffic and availability - keeping in mind business constraints, existing elements of your setup can be redesigned or reorganized to improve their performance and reduce the risk of downtime.
  • Cooperating with the development team to help them build applications that best leverage platform capabilities and match the performance and availability requirements. A mutual exchange of knowledge benefits both SREs, as they learn about application internals, and developers, as they get a better understanding of the server environment - boosting everyone’s productivity.
  • Documenting maintenance procedures, preparing in advance for different kinds of outages. A set of good runbooks following best practices helps resolve issues that can’t be mitigated beforehand. Planning and testing disaster‑recovery procedures protect your business from worst‑case scenarios.
  • Automating infrastructure operations, so that less maintenance is necessary and incidents can be addressed with minimal effort. This ensures the time is spent where it matters most, and common scenarios and frequent incidents are addressed independently from the team’s capacity.

You can leverage an SRE team to reduce the infrastructure‑related workload of your developers - they can focus on delivering business features to your application or website, while a dedicated team of system specialists works on server configuration and reliability maintenance.

Additionally, an SRE team can organize an on‑call routine, making them available 24/7 to respond to application and infrastructure problems. Depending on your business needs and budget, committing to a guaranteed response in 1 hour at any time of the day is possible, though many companies choose a more relaxed response time. You can rest easy knowing a team of reliability experts watches over your website!

Here at Fibertide, we provide SRE teams to a number of companies, delivering services both at global and regional scales. We’ve maintained complex customer websites with less than a few hours of total downtime per year. Our experience is both in high‑traffic websites and efficient multi‑petabyte data pipelines. We value tight cooperation with product teams and CTOs to ensure our efforts match your business priorities, and we also frequently educate developers on best practices for large‑scale systems. Read more about our experience or contact us.

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