How to Leverage SRE and DevOps to Improve Downtime

Lalit | October 20, 2021

Downtime in the IT industry is not just a dirty word, but a wildly expensive one as well. The delays of downtime are costly in a variety of ways, not just financially, though the financial costs of downtime are quite considerable. Organizations lose anywhere between one hundred thousand, to five million dollars per hour when there is downtime. This also factors in the loss of goodwill, both within the company and without, wasted labor on troubleshooting and the cost of lost productivity if other employees are not able to do their work.

Sometimes downtime issues are just small scale, and annoying. But sometimes, like when an organization is launching a new product or service, or just when normal usability is interrupted, the effects of downtime can be disastrous. 

Downtime also negatively impacts IT teams, who are forced to drop their work and focus on fixing the error or errors causing the downtime. Since these issues are time-sensitive, it might mean working overtime past the end of the day, which no one, from admin to IT is happy about. 

Then there are the unhappy customers that downtime can aggravate. Customers expect twenty-four-seven functionality of websites and apps, and when they aren’t happy, they will leave for other organizations. So a company can lose customers as well as their reputation when there’s too much downtime. 

Using SRE / DevOps to mitigate downtime

First, what is DevOps? DevOps is an organizational mindset and culture. DevOps teams tend to be a bit more amorphous than SRE, which allows each organization to custom-build its DevOps team. 

Site reliability engineers (SRE) and the DevOps team work together to prevent downtime and mitigate how long downtime takes when it happens. They work by helping the IT team’s speed, responsiveness, and reliability in general and then specifically when there are issues from outside that need to be addressed. SRE and DevOps teams work together to help the IT team streamline their processes. This allows the IT team to respond faster when issues like downtime arise. 

SRE teams boost reliability by decreasing downtime by reducing the time between an issue occurring, being identified, and being solved. This helps to make sure the customer has a smooth experience with the organization. SRE prioritizes what’s most important when it comes to problem-solving. The more agile DevOps team might not approach problems in the same way and tend to not ask themselves the same questions that an SRE team might, which is why both DevOps and SRE work together to avoid downtime and reduce it when it happens. While there are fundamental differences between the approaches taken by SRE & DevOps, both approaches focus on leveraging automation & collaboration between the development & operations teams.

DevOps teams are designed to work out both cultural and technological changes in an organization which will allow them to respond more quickly and capably to any downtime issues that arise. 

The impact of SRE on Downtime

In addition to increased reliability overall, SRE can help mitigate and reduce downtime in a variety of ways.

  1. Prioritize Mission-critical responses by answering questions like “do we fix a bug in the UI or do we fix a bug that intermittently requires the back end app to be restarted?”. A lot of the work SRE does before there’s a downtime issue is to set up systems and protocols for how to respond to a big issue. This question is just an example of how SRE works, by prioritizing mission-critical to-do items. This allows all relevant teams to be working together on solving problems. If there isn’t some kind of coordination, then teams could end up either working on the same thing at the same time or undoing work another team has done. This is inefficient at best and an absolute disaster if this lack of coordination is happening during downtime and the efforts to solve it. 
  2. Data-driven decisions are a big part of SRE. SRE uses metrics to follow and observe the performance of IT teams, which is critical. A good SRE or a good SRE team is highly analytical, and they use these skills to help improve IT performance. This leads us to the next way that SRE helps mitigate downtime.
  3. Rapid recovery is key when it comes to system failures. System failures and downtime are inevitable, but when they do happen, SRE teams can quickly solve the issue and then put systems in place to prevent the issue from happening again.

Encora’s SRE Teams can Help Prevent Downtime in Your Business

At Encora, we do not see SRE and DevOps as competing frameworks and frequently leverage both to reduce organizational silos, manage change, drive automation and create focus on monitoring & observability. If you’re looking to prevent downtime in your critical software assets, Encora can ensure that existing best practices in SRE & DevOps are finetuned specifically to your organization’s needs. With extensive experience across DevOps & SRE, we can assist you quickly get started on preventing and minimizing downtime. Reach out to Encora today. 

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