In today’s digital age, businesses of all sizes rely on technology to operate and deliver services to their customers. As a result, it’s crucial for organizations to have systems in place that are stable, reliable, and able to handle the demands of their users. That’s where a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) comes in.
An SRE is a tech-savvy professional who works to ensure that your systems are stable, reliable, and able to handle the demands of your users. They proactively monitor and maintain your infrastructure, troubleshoot problems as they arise, and work to prevent future issues from occurring. In short, an SRE is the superhero of your online operations.
After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of:
Please note that the salaries and hourly rates mentioned in this article don’t equal the cost of hiring offshore software developers through outsourcing companies. Read more about how offshore software development costs are formed here.
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A Site Reliability Engineer is a person who works to ensure that the systems and infrastructure of a company or organization are running smoothly and that they can handle any unexpected problems that might arise. They work to prevent outages and downtime, and when problems do occur, they are the ones who fix them as quickly as possible.
The SRE role is becoming increasingly important as businesses move more and more of their operations online. With so many services being delivered over the internet, it’s crucial that companies know how to keep their websites and other online properties running smoothly at all times.
A Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) is a team member directly responsible for this task since they specialize in designing and maintaining the infrastructure that powers your business’s websites. SREs work with your team to build out tools and processes that will support your website’s growth, ensuring its reliability and accessibility.
An SRE developer should not be mixed up with DevOps engineers, although many sources use these two terms interchangeably.
DevOps is a process of automating all the repetitive IT operations to minimize human effort (and the risk of human error) while running your infrastructure. DevOps engineers focus on software development, deployment, and operating production environments.
SRE, on the other hand, is a paradigm of continuous analysis of the existing infrastructure from the reliability perspective, focused on removing performance bottlenecks and optimizing the infrastructure, toolkit, and workflows associated with its operation. Born in Google, SRE is now the leading approach to ensuring long-term sustainability and operational resilience of digital assets.
While Ops engineers have to run an infrastructure they’re given and put out fires all over it, and DevOps can automate various aspects of IT operations to reduce the number of incidents, SREs have to plan and design resilient infrastructure and workflows (and update them as needed).
The main SRE responsibilities are:
This list can go on and depends significantly on the specifics of your organization. Naturally, the SRE tasks and approaches of a global organization running legacy mainframe systems will differ from the SRE tasks of an actively growing cloud-based app.
SRE tasks can be grouped into three major phases: design, implementation, and maintenance.
An SRE expert should be involved in all stages of any IT-related project of your organization. This includes discussing the concept of the next project, designing the infrastructure, toolset, and processes needed to deliver it, overseeing its implementation, monitoring the performance of a working system, and adjusting it if necessary. It also involves training your staff to follow the guidelines and procedures that minimize the daily toil for your IT department.
An SRE’s job never ends; it’s a permanent effort aimed at improving your IT operations and training your developers and Ops engineers on SRE best practices. This complex and multi-faceted approach requires having a set of deeply-technical skills.
The core part of SRE roles and responsibilities revolves around monitoring and analyzing the performance of your systems in production. Obviously, the particular set of tools SRE specialists have to use will differ depending on the product or service your organization provides and the way it is developed, released, and run.
However, there are crucial technical and soft skills every Site Reliability Engineer should have.
Non-technical SRE skills include:
Fundamental technical Site Reliability Engineer skills:
The tools SRE engineers use are highly-specific. Let’s take a brief look at the most common ones.
Just like with the cybersecurity of your web or mobile apps, the importance of an SRE might not seem obvious when everything works just fine. But hiring an SRE specialist becomes a top priority when something goes wrong, and here are the four most common reasons to hire an SRE engineer:
While you might not be Amazon, who lost $100 during an hour of an outage, every organization with customer-facing online systems can calculate the costs of their outages — and these would be enormous. Thus, hiring an SRE is a vital step for future-proofing your business and ensuring its long-term resilience. But this might not be as easy as hiring another Python engineer or other specialists whose skills aren’t so specific
Naturally, the SRE talent market is very competitive, as global corporations are ready to pay six-digit salaries to avoid multi-million losses. Additionally, while every DevOps engineer can evolve into an SRE specialist with enough time and experience, the really talented SRE experts are in short supply — and most are employed either by industry leaders or Managed Services Providers (MSPs).
Why so? Because boredom is a gruesome enemy. When an SRE expert has to cover all the needs of an organization (or establish an in-house SRE team and train it), the scope of the challenge is big and keeps them motivated. However, once the main pain points are dealt with, ongoing monitoring (while definitely needed) requires much less time and effort, and the level of SRE engagement inevitably decreases.
The solution is either working for huge companies, where SRE is an endless journey of transforming extensive infrastructure and workflow, or working for a Managed Services Provider that has multiple clients on various stages of SRE implementation. This way, the SRE talent faces a constant influx of challenges and remains motivated to overcome them, gain experience, and grow as a professional. Besides, MSP customers pay for SRE expertise only while they need it and gain an immediate return on their investments by optimizing their IT operations and workflows.
Thus said, partnering with MSPs like Relevant Software is a win-win decision for all, allowing SRE talents to have a variety of projects and startups. Companies, in turn, can gain access to SRE expertise they wouldn’t be able to hire otherwise.
When it comes to hiring SRE experts, there are two options: in-house and outsourcing. But which is best?
In-house experts can be great for your company if you have the resources and ability to hire, train, and retain them. Hiring in-house is great for staying in the closest possible touch and keeping careful track of your project progress. However, all these benefits come with related costs—you’ll have to pay SRE engineers salaries (which are pretty high in the US), plus the cost of any benefits packages you offer.
If you don’t want the hassle of managing your own team, outsourcing can be a smart option. You’ll need to find a reputable vendor, but once that’s done, you’ll be paying only for the service itself.
The choice between in-house and outsourcing largely depends on your organization’s goals as well as its existing resources and capacity. However, keep in mind that because of the specific expertise of SRE engineers hiring for an SRE position locally can be challenging. In this case, outsourcing becomes a smarter, and sometimes the only option to strengthen your team with this specialist.
We provided custom development services to more than 200 companies worldwide, building dedicated teams of software programmers, Site Reliability Engineers, and DevOps specialists. You are also welcome to consider our IT outsourcing services company if your business needs top-notch programming talent and strong technical support.
Based on Glassdoor, Statista, and other credible open data sources, here are the salary ranges for a Software Reliability Engineer.
You might be thinking, “Why is the cost of hiring an SRE in Eastern Europe two or three times lower compared to hiring them in the US?” The answer lies in two considerable factors: significantly lower cost of living and simplified taxation scheme for the IT industry, greatly decreasing the cost of software engineering. Such a salary gap between countries with talent pools of the same high quality makes SRE engineering outsourcing a smart and cost-effective strategy.
Here’s what companies that actively try to hire SRE talent expect them to do:
Below is an SRE engineer job description. While the requirements can differ a little, the general scope of tasks remains mostly the same: monitoring the infrastructure, designing improvements, communicating with cross-functional team members and managers, etc.
As you can see, relevant job requirements and Site Reliability Engineer responsibilities cover planning, implementing, and monitoring solutions that improve the resilience and performance of infrastructure based on the logs and metrics gathered in production. But how to define if a candidate you’re interviewing meets these requirements?
The questions you can ask an SRE in the interview can be split into five categories:
Feel free to take a look at the detailed list of SRE interview questions and answers to them. Naturally, the questions depend on the type of your organizational structure, the products and services you provide, and your management style, so adjust this list based on your needs.
Hiring Site Reliability Engineering is essential for rapid business growth. Employing an SRE expert is vital if you wish to mitigate risks and ensure stable operations. However, hiring an in-house SRE talent is challenging, as the market demand for such specialists is quite high.
Thus said, outsourcing SRE tasks to a reliable MSP can be the best solution for companies and organizations that prioritize results over job titles. Get in touch with Relevant if you need to hire a Site Reliability Engineer with a proven success record!
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