Choosing your next job is a big decision, but the right option can lead to a fulfilling work life. If you are looking for opportunities related to software and IT, you may want to think about becoming a site reliability engineer. This relatively new job title incorporates aspects of both software engineering and IT operations, and it’s an excellent fit for critical thinkers. Here is an overview of the industry so you can decide if this type of career is the right choice for you.
Bridging the Gap Between Development and Operations
According to Google executive Ben Treynor, site reliability engineering happens when software engineers become involved in tasks historically filed in the realm of operations. As such, SRE professionals need to be experts in both areas. Additionally, being an SRE requires some creativity and flexibility, especially since the term doesn’t yet have a hard-and-fast definition. Site reliability engineers work across disciplines and help improve the overall system architecture, and the exact nature of the job will look different depending on the nature of the company, the software, and the operations team.
Moving Beyond DevOps
SRE positions bear many similarities to DevOps positions, but there are some key differences. A DevOps engineer generally works directly with developers and engineers, helping them work together and improving communication to increase efficiency and performance. In contrast, a site reliability engineer has high-level control over IT infrastructure, often developing the entire architecture. Additionally, automation is a vital component of SRE work. Be an effective SRE involves seeing opportunities for automation and implementing effective solutions.
Honing Programming and Big-Picture Skills
Currently, there aren’t any standardized SRE tools or programming languages, partially due to the fact that the exact parameters of this career are still evolving. However, working as a site reliability engineer is an excellent way to improve your programming and software development skills. In fact, part of your role may involve working toward standardization, since it can greatly improve the communication and collaboration between developers, operations managers, and engineers. You should also have plenty of opportunities to exercise your creating problem-solving and innovation skills.
Preparing for Future Software Engineering Challenges
In many cases, becoming a site reliability engineer requires some experience as a software engineer, developer, DevOps professional, or IT expert. Because it’s an architect role, most people need several years in the industry before they have the expertise and perspective to effectively mastermind complex systems and incorporate automation. This is one of the reasons you may see site reliability engineer salary numbers on the high end of the scale. However, it’s an excellent role to aspire toward during the start of your career.
If you know you want to move toward a job as an SRE, you can start taking on projects and incorporating an SRE mindset in your current positions. You can also find small areas to automate and look for ways to improve the software development and delivery process. Applying SRE principles before you have the job title gives you excellent material for your resume and a chance to show employers you have what it takes to ascend to this architect-level role.
If you are a software engineer or operations expert looking for a new challenge, consider being an SRE. This position gives you the chance to automate processes and innovate new ways to improve software delivery.