A team in Google created the concept of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) in 2003 to improve its large-scale sites. Other big technology companies like Amazon and Netflix have also adopted SRE.

According to Catchpoint’s 2019 report, the role of an SRE is, recently, starting to emerge on a larger scale than before. Companies have been employing SRE systems only over the last three years.

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A Site Reliability Engineer is highly skilled and experienced in Software Coding or Automation as well as Operations. An engineer is the best person to ensure that the software does not cause heavy operational loads since he is exposed to operations on a large scale.

The critical role of SREs started when businesses realized that they were spending more than fifty percent of their time doing manual operations due to software problems. Since then, there has been a mind-shift regarding this issue. Management teams in most organizations are adopting a “software-first” approach to Information Technology operations.

Primary Responsibilities of a Site Engineer

Monitoring Distributed Systems

Engineers make sure that infrastructure and internal dependencies are functioning correctly. They use tools for real-time monitoring and analyzing of alerts on potential issues. Issues that seem tolerable in the beginning might grow into more significant problems in the long-term.

Automating 

The Development and Operations (DevOps) team spends most of its time fixing errors and performing other manual tasks. However, a Site Reliability Engineer uses the same knowledge to trigger automation.

Repeating functions and fixes need automation to reduce the time involved in “firefighting.” Apart from fixes, automation includes incident alerts and automated responses to critical incidents.

Providing On-call Support

Similar to the DevOps team, Reliability Engineers are also responsible for giving on-call support for high-risk incidents. And they work with Development teams by acting as consultants and assisting in troubleshooting.

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Managing Incidents

A Site Reliability Engineer is busy resolving issues almost half of the time. There may be many options to diagnose and resolve an issue. But it is the job of the engineer to monitor and facilitate the actions involved. Coordination among relevant parties is also one of his job roles.  

Participating in Postmortems

After resolving an incident, the concerned parties release a postmortem report explaining the root cause and a recommendation for how to avoid or fix the issue, in case it recurs in the future. The role of the Site Engineer is critical since he or she coordinates between two teams –

Software Development and Operations to ensure the application of a permanent fix.

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Tracking Outages

By regularly tracking outages, an engineer is the best person to analyze long-term trends.

Moreover, daily monitoring makes him or her a credible resource in arriving at a reasonable

Service-level Objective and Service-level Agreement.

Qualifications of a Site Engineer

Since the role of a Site Engineer is relatively new, people from different Information Technology  backgrounds are choosing to move into the position, since they have strong tendencies towards automation and continuous process improvement.

Here is a list of qualifications to look for in a Site Engineer:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or its equivalent years of experience
  • More than two years of experience in Software Development, Systems Administration or Operations
  • Well-rounded practical skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, composure when under pressure, and good communication skills
  • SRE certification

The job site, Indeed.com, reports that the average annual salary of a Site Reliability Engineer is 138,878USD. While this may sound like a huge figure, a Site Reliability Engineer is worth it as he plays a critical role in ensuring the optimal performance of the business’s daily operations.

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