How Digital Transformation Works in Site Reliability Engineering

Multiple benefits for shared computing systems occur as a result of site reliability engineering. SRE streamlines the automation of infrastructure, reforms incident management and improves reliability. However, culture transformation is one merit of SRE that is largely underrated. While many service providers feature SRE in dedicated publications, it is seldom viewed as part of the digital transformation process and skills.

Why do we neglect the cultural shifts that arise from Site Reliability Engineering? We are used to putting technical know-how above individual culture and skills. We can clearly see this in IT where proficient engineers are exalted as ninjas and celebrities. The resulting culture then prioritizes individuals instead of teams. Just as frangible and delicate software is inefficient, so is an enterprise that depends on a few people’s actions.

So, what is digital transformation and how does it figure in as a solution to this problem? For beginners, besides powering change in processes, SRE drives cultural changes. It communicates difficult issues, is risk-tolerant and assimilates knowledge from a poor performance without giving much thought to egos. Let’s examine how that culture performs.

Risk Acceptance

Risk acceptance is a huge part of Site Reliability Engineering, but this is seldom an innate tendency for most enterprises and work groups. Even those that claim to tolerate risk very rarely accept the potential for risk occurrence. How does this occur?

Shared systems are the source of this internal risk. Having perfectly reliable services is not the objective, as it is always extremely costly to increase reliability past the required point. In addition, the difference is negligible. Users are used to occasional call drops and imperfect cell connections.

Thus, Site Reliability Engineering anticipates and accepts the risk of system downtimes. The next strategic action after embracing the risk is mitigating it. Using the knowledge that systems will shut down and fail, how do we protect ourselves and our customers?

What benefits of digital transformation can we channel to ensure value addition and delivery?

Reducing Dogma in IT

Previously, system administrators were relied upon by enterprises to manage infrastructure and systems. While repetitive, most tasks were performed manually, one after the other, with little consideration for mechanization.

Organizations today need proactive engineers with the will to change procedures and processes. These engineers need to see beyond the script and make the ideal choice for their software ecosystem.

For instance, a governance process for most enterprises exists for initiating the tooling of new infrastructure or software for production purposes. This procedure claims to insulate organizations against security risks, inefficient solutions and repressive permits. However, a bottleneck for teams arises.

Teams spend too much time trying to solve the incompatibility of preapproved tools rather than selecting the proper tool for the issue at hand. The inability to operationalize patched library versions with known risks also leads to security threats. A pragmatic engineer examines the original complication and designs a better, automated tool. They will find methods to automate the scanning of software inventories, infrastructure patches and licenses.

The culture of Site Reliability Engineering underscores automation, change and challenging IT beliefs and processes many are fanatics of.

Employ Team Builders

Hiring is a difficult task for most companies. Many are used to hiring people who are well-versed in the skills of a technical capacity rather than teamwork. While technical skills are valuable in the short term, they could lead to cynicism and complicated work settings over time.

For this reason, SRE supports a hiring culture that prioritizes collaboration and teamwork. For product enhancement, we need candidates to disregard their egos and work with others in teams. When reviewing candidates, consider more than just their technical skills but also their collaborative track record.

Willingness to learn, humility and empathy are the few competencies to look at.

Training Hires

What comes next after you’ve hired expert engineers? A conventional “trial-by-fire” approach has been adopted to train operation teams and system administrators. A more intentional approach, however, is required in the SRE culture.

Let’s examine a few ideas for onboarding that SRE culture avails.

First, we should take into account the creation of a sequential learning experience that ensures success for new hires. This better prepares them and accords them the respect they should expect and offer others.

Promoting the use of reverse engineering and fundamentals provides a clear understanding and levels better solutions for systems and issues. Reliance on IT dogma is also significantly reduced.

Finally, enterprises should desist from giving grunt work to new employees. To confer a sense of ownership and personal challenge, new hires should be given complicated as well as nontrivial work earlier on.

Conclusion

So, what features of digital transformation do we need to exploit to shift our organizational culture? The desire to change isn’t adequate. Fortunately, we can take some ideas from Site Reliability Engineering and begin adopting the practice in our organizations and teams. Your culture will ascend to the next tier of reliability when you use these ideas.

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