Do you want to be a site reliability engineer, or SRE? Sixteen years ago, the role didn’t actually exist, but now you can find more than 1,000 opportunities for a career as an SRE on LinkedIn. Before you decide if you want to explore such a career, though, you should check out the new survey from Catchpoint, which examines the role and what exactly SREs do.
Catchpoint launched its survey in January with the goal of determining what exactly it means to be an SRE. The survey takes a closer look at the types of organizations, skill sets and organizational cultures in place where SREs work. Catchpoint wanted to build a profile of the SRE role and determine whether there is a core set of principals or skills common to the SRE role.
The report includes responses from 416 participants representing a range of roles, industries and company sizes. Nearly 4 out of 10 respondents actually identify as SREs. More than half work for companies in technology-related industries, and more than 40 percent indicated that they work for a software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or other as-a-service (XaaS) provider. More than 50 percent represent companies with at least 1,000 employees, while just under 40 percent are from larger organizations of 5,000 or more employees.
What is an SRE?
The SRE role originated at Google in 2003. The SRE straddles the line between the “Dev” and “Ops” sides of DevOps. SREs foster collaboration, productivity and software performance and—ultimately—gives developers greater responsibility for the performance of the applications they produce.
SREs typically both write code and support existing systems. Nearly two-thirds of SREs report they are deploying code daily—with almost half indicating that they deploy code multiple times per day. According to the report, most SREs report to software engineering despite the fact that a large percentage of SREs actually come from an IT operations background.
Coding skills and a solid knowledge of IT operations are both valuable resources for an SRE, but there are also a variety of “soft skills” that seem to be crucial to success. Problem-solving, teamwork, composure under pressure and strong written and verbal communications regarding incident resolution are all necessary to be effective as an SRE.
Novices Need Not Apply
The Catchpoint survey contains some bad news for fresh college graduates looking for their first gig, and excellent news for experienced IT professionals: The SRE role is not an entry-level job. Eight out of 10 SREs have a college degree and have worked in IT for six or more years. A college degree in computer science or information technology isn’t necessarily a requirement, but 73 percent of SREs did, in fact, get degrees in a technical field of study.
Although a majority of SREs surveyed report to the software engineering department, most come from an operations or infrastructure background. Just under 65 percent of survey participants reported that they held a role as a sys admin, while only 53 percent previously held a role as a developer or software engineer.
To learn more about the site reliability engineer role, check out the full 2018 SRE Report from Catchpoint.