Service quality and the rising need for enterprise SRE

  • Application Development
  • About ServiceNow
  • Trends and Research
  • 2021
  • Valerie O'Connell
June 15, 2021

Enterprise SRE (site reliability engineering): where service reliability and business agility meet

In its DevOps 2021 survey of global IT professionals, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) found that 95% of organizations with highly successful DevOps initiatives were predominantly decentralized and purposefully becoming more so as fast as possible (see Figure 1).

This decentralization of development and DevOps teams is making site reliability engineering (SRE) both critical and difficult to achieve.

Current organizational models. Source: EMA

Figure 1: Current organizational models. Source: EMA

Site reliability defined

Site reliability crosses domains running the enterprise gamut from code to customer and everywhere in between. Developers code new applications and features. DevOps speeds those innovations into production. IT operations keeps the infrastructure and systems running.

Theoretically, they all work together to deliver great service to employees and customers alike. Unfortunately, human nature undercuts that theory: When something is everyone’s business and no one’s job, it doesn’t always get done.

When done right, however, and laser-focused on IT service reliability, SRE asks and answers these questions:

  • What is the minimum level of service a user will find acceptable for any given task, at a not-to-exceed cost that makes sense from a business point of view?
  • How can a specific level of service reliability be quantified, monitored, and enforced?
  • What are the earliest and best indicators of any possible service degradation?
  • How can automation eradicate repetitive, manual tasks that waste time and add no value?

This question-and-response cycle is iterative and endless, always moving in the direction of improved reliability through automation.

The automation connection

The modern drive to automation is increasingly paired with advances in AIOps. Recent EMA research found that AIOps and automation—although technically distinct sets of technologies—are inextricably linked in organizations that are highly successful in their AIOps initiatives. Not surprisingly, those organizations also report:

  • The highest return of value relative to cost
  • Success in digital transformation
  • Superior levels of IT operational effectiveness and IT service quality

When asked to rate the top three capabilities most important in an AIOps solution, SRE groups selected:

  1. Observability/end-to-end visibility of logs, metrics, and traces
  2. Self-learning problem-solving (machine learning (ML))
  3. Hyperautomation/the ability to automate complex processes across domains
  4. Real-time accuracy of the configuration management database (CMDB)/content management system (CMS)

All of these attributes require the unifying reach of a platform to create visibility of applications, services, and microservices across the enterprise.

Powered by enterprise-spanning platform technology and practices, enterprise SRE exerts a multiplier effect on individual team productivity. Decentralized IT teams are transformed into efficient parts of a unified organizational whole, with no disruption to their autonomy, speed, or effectiveness.

Benefits of SRE adoption

SRE adoption provides a business-defined balance of IT innovation at speed and scale with service reliability and cost. In addition, it offers numerous other predictable benefits and outcomes:

  • Total cost of ownership plummets when reliability is considered early and designed into applications and services.
  • End-user experience is made visible and actionable with service that’s as reliable as necessary for customer satisfaction and retention, but not more reliable than it needs to be.
  • IT organizations have an automated basis for data-driven, fact-based decision-making.
  • Product development, DevOps, and IT operations all perform faster and more effectively.
  • When business agility and stability depend on IT, SRE impacts revenue growth.

The people connection

As always, the catch is people. Enterprise SRE requires a paradigm shift in how IT operations works with the rest of the enterprise world. It’s a recalibration from break/fix to optimization. Although it’s a change that benefits all stakeholders, it’s nonetheless a change.

Economies of scale and the advantages of artificial intelligence (AI), ML, and innovative human initiatives such as enterprise SRE cannot be achieved in fenced-off domains of independence. Cross-domain thinking, cooperation, organization, and practices have to precede cross-domain processes and automation.

Consider starting with modernization of your incident handling processes. This practical integration can be relatively painless and return high value for the effort. Service management and operations both benefit when IT leverages AI/ML to automate incident and event handling processes.

Learn more in our Enterprise SRE: service reliability ebook.

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