As DevOps takes off, site reliability engineers are flying high

Each year, LinkedIn tracks the top emerging jobs and roles in the U.S.

The top four roles of 2020 — AI specialist, robotics engineer, data scientist and full-stack engineer — are all closely affiliated with driving forward technological innovation. Today, we’d like to recognize number five on the list, without which innovation in any domain would not be possible: the site reliability engineer (SRE).

We see the emergence of site reliability engineers not as a new trend, but one closely coupled with the theme of DevOps over the last decade. As coined, it was supposed to be something that you do and not something that you are. However, as time has passed, DevOps has found its way into roles and titles, often replacing “application production support” or “production engineering.”

What we are seeing now and predicting into the future is the rise of site reliability engineer as a title relating to the practice of DevOps and better describing the work to be done. At the time of our writing, there are more than 9,000 open roles for SREs on LinkedIn, a number that is only growing.

Software focused on helping engineers ensure reliability and uptime isn’t a new phenomenon, and the market has supported numerous billion-plus dollar exits, including companies like AppDynamics and Datadog . Nonetheless, we see an impending tipping point in tooling catering to the SRE persona across their entire workflow. We’ll discuss why the market is taking off and share our view of the landscape and the many inspired founders building technology to transform the practice of reliability — a foundational block for innovation across every industry.

Why now?

  • The service is the product: As more applications have moved to being delivered as a service, moving from the realm of IT to SaaS, the service itself has become the product. Anything delivered as a service must keep an eye toward the old, basic concept of customer service. This shift began at the application layer (e.g., Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow) and over time has spread to infrastructure layer software (e.g., Datadog, HashiCorp) and has even impacted on-prem software. As Grant Miller, CEO at Replicated, put it further, “Traditional on-prem software vendors have transitioned away from delivering binary executables (.jar, .war, .exe, etc.) and expecting their customers to set up the necessary components manually. Now, vendors are leveraging Kubernetes as the substrate to deliver a much more automated and reliable experience to their customers, and redefining what ‘on-prem software’ traditionally meant.”

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