Why And How To Hire Site Reliability Engineer: Salary, Requirements
The IT industry is rapidly developing, coming up with promising solutions, which significantly impact the market. Site Reliability Engineering is one of them. It is among the latest approaches, which appeared in IT, yet gained popularity with a remarkable speed.
In SRE, software engineering and DevOps are combined, creating a unique and complex approach to IT operations.
It is a rather complicated discipline, which requires the developer to have a keen interest in the theory and practice of various programming areas and system administration. Qubit Labs has decided to shed light on this sophisticated yet forward-looking approach by clarifying the idea of SRE, its relevance, and Site Reliability Engineer salary, requirements, and tasks.
What is Site Reliability Engineering?
Let’s take it from defining Site Reliability Engineering itself.
In a nutshell, this is a method, which ensures the operational reliability of the system. It is a set of engineering practices that supports the apps’ reliable and fault-free performance in the present and future, considering the required scalability and any force majeure.
It was significantly impacted by Agile principles, in particular, by the DevOps approach and Information Technology Infrastructure Library. SRE aims to ensure the applications’ smooth performance by eliminating organizational barriers, single assessment indicators, and shared responsibility of all participants, from developers to testers.
SRE expands DevOps, expanding its capacities at the expense of interaction with all the project members throughout the whole lifecycle of software development. It pays significant attention to engineering and initial development stages to introduce the options of unproblematic scaling and reliability of functioning into the system in advance.
Why is SRE Necessary?
SRE addresses practically the same problems as DevOps does, namely, increasing the speed of launching new features and facilitating the team’s processes.
However, in contrast to DevOps, SRE places great emphasis on the services’ stability and reliability. Hence, if these indicators are critical for your business, you might consider utilizing SRE.
Besides, if the users complain about certain setbacks, the SRE approach will detect the reasons based on the indicators, which are close to those faced by users. The specialist will assess not disk space but the speed of response and quantity of inaccurate requests.
Site Reliability Engineer VS Software Engineer
According to Google, SRE implies using a software engineering approach to run production systems. It’s about doing tasks that used to rely on an operations team, and now they are under the responsibility of engineers with software expertise. These engineers are able to substitute automation for human labor.
In terms of SRE, software engineers are specialists who are aware of the specificities of programming languages, data structure and algorithms, and performance. They know how to write software, which will be effective.
Usually, software engineers work on defined problems, which are small in scope and have firm deadlines. Site Reliability Engineers, in contrast, work with the whole production stack; they make systems used by a large amount of internal and external customers.
Site Reliability Engineer VS DevOps
DevOps and SRE are related spheres because they often duplicate each other’s functions. As mentioned above, SRE is the combination of DevOps and development, meaning that the ability to write code and dive into the development is coupled with server-side tasks, including administration, scaling, and workload.
DevOps is closer to system administration, while SRE – to the development. The first concept is more about what has to be done, and the second is focused on how this can be done.
DevOps is a philosophy, and SRE is its implementation. So, the main difference between DevOps vs Site Reliability Engineer is that a DevOps raises problems and dispatches them to solve, while an SRE finds issues and solves some of them oneself.
What is Site Reliability Engineer?
Coming back to the Site Reliability Engineer, one’s goal is to ensure the system’s reliable performance. Usually, this vacancy is taken by experienced developers who clearly understand what can go wrong and when it might occur. Such a person has experience in working both inside and outside the company.
What does a site reliability engineer do? An SRE specialist addresses the problems. The issues might come both from the developers and infrastructure. A good Site Reliability Engineer is able to minimize the downtime of company services and bring more confidence in the future for the users and business owners. Most often, there is great demand for such specialists in companies involved in cloud services, including SaaS, Paas, and IaaS.
One can compare a Certified Reliability Engineer to the bonding agent and diplomat. He/she helps to balance the needs of both developers (who want to create, test, and launch new programs, updates, and functions as quickly as possible) and business stakeholders (who want to achieve a smooth performance of all products and services).
An SRE specialist is like a mediator in the continuous struggle between the development and operation teams. One addresses the debates regarding what products can be launched and when that can be done. Such a company member makes sure that the teams mentioned above agree on the error threshold in advance.
With the spread of Big Data, DevOps, and Agile principles, the demand for SRE will grow, and this role will be more clearly defined. They are among the most highly-paid IT industry employees. Let’s take a closer look at Site Reliability Engineer salaries based around the world.
Site Reliability Engineer Salary Based on Country (Annual)
- The average Site Reliability Engineer salary in the US is $117,347.
- On average, in Australia, an SRE specialist earns $98,787.
- A site reliability specialist gets paid around $88,587 in Europe.
- In Canada, an SRE programmer can earn around $80,256.
Site Reliability Engineer Salary by Big Cities in the US (Annual)
- San Francisco is the highest-paid state, in which a Site Reliability Engineer earns around $162,200.
- In Seattle, a middle-level SRE specialist makes $145,856, and senior Reliability Engineer salary rises to $154,447.
- New York offers $142,615 to middle-level senior reliability engineers.
- In Chicago and Cambridge, the salaries are on the same level, $139,574 and $137,949 accordingly.
- Boston offers approximately $132,584 on average, and an entry level Reliability Engineer salary in the city starts from $90,000.
- The average Reliability engineer salary in Washington is around $127,121.
- Los Angeles is close to San Francisco in terms of Site Reliability Engineer salary, which is $124,927 and $122,455 correspondingly.
Site Reliability Engineer Salary in Europe (Annual)
- The UK leads with the average site reliability engineer salary at approximately $100,240 per annum.
- The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark come next, offering the salary of $82,681, $81,683, and $80,369 annually to the mid-level site reliability engineers.
- In Sweden, an SRE specialist earns approximately $72,258 yearly.
- The average site reliability engineer salary in Ukraine reaches $36,000 per year.
- Romania rounds out the table and, offering site reliability engineers an annual salary of $22,014.
Site Reliability Engineer Roles And Responsibilities
An average Site Reliability Engineer job description usually includes a handful of responsibilities and skills since this vacancy is for a person who can balance complicated tasks, which require personal resources and simple routine assignments. Such a specialist has broad competencies and a range of duties. If a candidate is wondering “how to become a Site Reliability Engineer,” one should expect to see an impressive list of criteria he/she should fit to apply for the vacancy. Let’s check them out.
Roles and Requirements
It’s no surprise that each company sets specific requirements for its SRE candidate. Yet, there are several common preferred skills and experience we could point out:
- Experience with cloud providers (Azure, AWS, Google Cloud)
- Knowledge of enterprise architecture
- Experience with Linux operating systems
- A clear understanding of DevOps concepts
- Network Management skills
- Proved knowledge of version control
- Issue troubleshooting experience
Also, when applying for Site Reliability Engineer jobs, the specialists should obtain certain soft skills, including:
- The ability to communicate ideas both verbally and in writing
- Demonstrated ability to work in a high-pressure environment
- The desire to face any challenges and fully understand problems and find ways to prevent them
It is necessary for this vacancy to find a candidate who could adopt flexible and expert approaches to solve tasks.
It is rather challenging to tell whether each company needs a full-time SRE specialist because it depends on their projects and goals. Usually, such an employee provides a platform, tools, and services for the teams to send their metrics and see how their service works. Other primary responsibilities of an SRE specialist are the following:
- Creating and maintaining documentation. Each second of infrastructure downtime leads to serious financial loss. To deal with issues, SRE specialists create a “runbook,” or instructions, which include the actions that have to be taken and systems that have to be checked in case of malfunction.
- Choosing and implementing new technologies. The performance of SRE specialists affects the company’s success in general. That’s why they need to implement a strategic approach to the analysis of ongoing processes when considering the implementation of new technologies.
- Developing code using different programming languages and platforms. An SRE should know how to write code with one of the company tech stack’s programming languages. Nevertheless, it’s not only about writing scripts but also diving into development processes and constant interaction with the team. Some of the projects require working with Terraform or Kubernetes platforms.
- System administration and automatization. It is necessary to be versed in networking protocols and work with the requests’ distribution to increase the system’s fault tolerance. An SRE specialist has to analyze technical metrics and follow SLA and create utilities for reducing manual labor and routine tasks.
- Troubleshooting and incident management. The Site Reliability Engineer has to handle different monitoring systems, like tracing, alerting, and logs. It is necessary to find the reason and solution for the ticket.
- Working with databases and cloud infrastructure. The largest companies are moving their infrastructures to the cloud, so an SRE has to know how to ensure smooth database migration, optimize requests, configure backup, set limits, test, and deploy everything in the new environment.
- Introducing error budgets. Such activity helps to measure risks, balance availability, and reduce the cost of failure.
Site Reliability Engineer Interview Questions and Answers
Site Reliability Engineer interview questions help evaluate candidates’ knowledge and experience and see how they can apply them in practice. Although only senior-level specialists can clearly answer some of them, they will help to see the candidate’s point of view and the way one addresses problems. We have gathered some of the most common Reliability Engineer interview questions that might help you choose the most fitting employee.
- What are SLA, SLO, and SLI?
SLA is the agreement between the service supplier and recipient, including a detailed description of the provided service and interaction between parties.
SLO are the time metrics, including request delays, throughput, or the number of requests per second.
SLI are the targets for the total success of SLI during a specific period.
- What data structures do you know?
For example, heap, binary tree, queue, stack.
- What is cloud computing?
This is the provision of computing resources to the user via the Internet.
- What is observability, and how to better an organization’s observability?
This can be explained as a conversation about the organization’s measurement and instrument. It is necessary to focus on the strategy, see how it impacts the performance, and understand what data types are most useful in terms of its observability goals.
- What is an error budget?
This is the maximum of errors that can happen to a technical system without causing serious contractual consequences.
To Wrap Up
A qualified Site Reliability Engineer can help the company break the stalemate and reconsider a handful of internal processes. One can help deal with numerous issues, take your company to another level, and provide a fresh view on industry requirements. Nevertheless, such specialists are in high demand on the market, so it might be rather challenging to find a suitable employee since the talented ones are already placed in jobs.
However, Qubit Labs can help you achieve the successful completion of your projects by building outsourced development teams. You can entrust recruitment and management-related tasks to us and be confident that we will find top-of-the-league Site Reliability Engineers under your requirements. Feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation and get down to business.
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