“SRE” stands for “Site Reliability Engineer”. This is a new role that is gaining popularity in the tech world. As the role becomes more prevalent, there is a question as to how best to employ one. One school of thought that is gaining traction is to hire an embedded SRE so that they are close to the customer. There are some benefits that come with this staffing approach, but it is not without risk.
What is an Embedded SRE?
An embedded SRE works as part of a non-SRE team. They might join development or IT operations teams, although they could also be part of quality assurance teams, security teams, or any other unit within the organization that can benefit from their expertise.
Embedded SREs are the opposite of creating a dedicated, general-purpose SRE team. In the latter approach, an organization hires talent that collaborates with non-SRE teams but who aren’t integrated directly into them.
There are several other organizational models that fall somewhere between these two poles. But typically, the two main types of structures are embedded or dedicated teams.
Why do we need Embedded SRE?
One of the major reasons someone would hire an SRE is to make their system more resilient to failures. The major benefit of hiring an SRE is having someone who is a subject matter expert in the technology, who is around the clock, and who is available when things go wrong. This is the best option for companies that require the highest level of resilience.
Embedded SRE is an important part of a company’s IT strategy, and companies like Google and Amazon have implemented it, but what are the advantages and disadvantages of the approach?
The advantages of Embedded SRE are that it allows companies to provide a different level of support, with more personal attention. The disadvantages are that it is expensive. As a result, companies should assess the potential benefits, risks, and costs of Embedded SRE and make the decision about whether to implement it based on the needs of their company.
What are the challenges of embedded SRE?
When it comes to building the right talent, SREs have a lot of challenges to overcome. That’s why when it comes to building the right talent, one thing you need to understand is that embedded SREs are not the same as dedicated SREs. With embedded SREs, you’re going to have to take a different approach, because embedded SREs have different needs. For example, embedded SREs need to communicate with the people they’re managing.
You should make sure that you’re giving a lot of responsibility, and that you’re also offering a lot of support. Embedded SREs are also going to be more independent than dedicated SREs. That makes it even more important that you establish a good relationship with them, to make sure that they perform well.
The embedded model can be difficult to scale, which is one reason why it doesn’t work as well in large organizations. If you have dozens of different engineering teams, embedding an SRE into each one requires a lot of management effort.
It also deprives the various SREs within your organization of the ability to work closely with each other. In that type of event, it probably makes more sense to create a dedicated team and has those SREs interface with other teams as needed, rather than trying to distribute site reliability engineers across the business by embedding them directly into other teams.
What can be done to get the most out of your embedded SRE?
There are many benefits to having an embedded SRE, but they can also be expensive. As a result, it’s important to make the most of your embedded SRE. You can do this by doing things like following up with your SREs on the progress of their tasks. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re not micromanaging your SRE. While you’re following up with your SRE, try to make sure that you’re doing so in a way that doesn’t waste their time. Instead of trying to get the most out of your embedded SRE, you should instead focus on what you can do to make them successful.
It’s also important to remember that embedded SREs are a resource that you should leverage. They are not a replacement for your engineering team, but they are valuable tools that you can use to improve your product. How do you do this? You should pay attention to their workload and availability. If embedded SREs are the only ones assigned to the project, you should help them with their workload. In this way, embedded SREs can focus on their work and you can get the most out of them. You should also make use of their skills. If embedded SREs are software engineers, they can help you build new features.
How does your business benefit through an embedded SRE?
- High Automation and Collaboration
Having an embedded SRE will enable you to achieve high rates of automation and collaboration, when they work directly alongside other engineers on a continuous basis, their perspective will inform every decision that the other engineers make.
SREs are not locked into one location so they have the flexibility to deploy resources where they are needed and quickly adapt to changing business needs.
- More time, More Value
The ability of the SRE to detect potential issues enables the developer team to resolve them in advance. This means the developers will have more time to focus on creating new features instead of spending time fixing issues. In other words, a reliable system offers more time to produce a product with higher value to the end-users.
- On-Going Culture Improvement
SRE offers an ongoing search for areas of improvement to optimize services and product reliability. They may also be more likely to gain skills that can translate to other areas of the company.
- Improved Metrics Reporting
SRE offers clarity through monitoring and calculating efficiency, productivity, service health, and the occurrence of bugs. The metric can be translated into concrete elements like the average length of downtime and its connection to lost revenue. While improved metrics allow the SRE to better identify the areas of improvement as well as find the best solution to the problem, the information is also useful to the sales and marketing department.
We know that many businesses are interested in adding an SRE role to their team. In general, embedded SREs make the most sense for companies that have relatively small engineering organizations, and in which the concept of the SRE function has not yet received complete buy-in. For large businesses that have numerous engineering teams, it will likely be easier to manage SREs by creating a separate team just for them. We discussed how to make the most out of them and some challenges which you might face along the journey. As we are always happy to answer any questions you may have, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on