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Then and Now – Site Reliability & DevOps

In the past, the idea was to build in the non-functional requirements of service to the best of our ability based on experience or best guess. Sometimes the general thought was, “We will worry about any residual work for availability, capacity, and reliability after the product or service is deployed”. This focus ensured that the product was fit for purpose, but did not ensure that the product was fit for use, that it was reliable. This approach is very costly to the operations of the service and negative consumer impact impedes opportunities for market share. 

This type of focus also creates silos between Dev and Ops and Ops become firefighters. The costs for operations are not sustainable! In addition to loss of revenues, staff morale begins to slip. 

So, reliability is really the key to success. Think about your cell phone. A heavy focus on functional requirements would mean that you can make phone calls. You can text, you can take photos, you can use your maps and a variety of other apps. Brilliant, it works! Now consider you do not have access to the cell tower or that battery life is lacking or that the glass breaks easily, or every time you make a connection, you get dropped. The product is fit for purpose, but not fit for use. It is not reliable. 

In contrast to this scenario, today you might have a Site Reliability Engineer embedded in the DevOps team to ensure that all non-functional requirements are fed into the DevOps pipeline in such a way that reliability is built into the development. The SRE shares ownership and collaborates with the team to ensure environments that are being spun up for build, test, and deployment stages are reliable. When Site Reliability Engineering is built into the orchestration of the DevOps pipeline, a cooperative, collaborative effort with the team leads to reliable scalable services, but also to anti-fragile environments. This takes operations from being reactive to being truly proactive. The benefits are a reduction in cost to support, increased value to customers, more opportunity for staff, and a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved.

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