You might expect site reliability engineers to be solely focused on keeping products and applications up and running. That’s a big part of the job, but at ServiceNow, 40% of a site reliability engineer’s work week is dedicated to bringing their own creativity and ideas forward.
That 40% time block “could be improving monitoring, writing code, publishing a knowledge article, sharing information with the team, getting down to the root cause of issues, or helping out partner teams to provide a better service for our customers,” explains Sony L., a site reliability engineer with ServiceNow for nearly six years.
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For example, “A large-scale client used our platform to build a support chat queue for their product on quite a large scale. It was quite special, something new and unique with our platform,” shares Ben K., a foody, aspiring runner, and site reliability engineer manager who lives right across the street from the ServiceNow Sydney office.
“The site reliability engineering team used their project time to develop monitoring, tooling, and automations to help with the operational support of this solution. Together, it showed what ServiceNow could do while venturing into new territories,” he adds.
Recently married, a budding gardener, and a doggy dad, Sony thrives in the on-the-job variety his role affords. “I like that there isn’t just one way to contribute. There’s a plethora of ways,” he notes.
“And, we have the freedom to pursue ideas on how we can solve problems faster, or how we can resolve faults permanently…or even an idea that might help in operations to make us all more efficient. We are encouraged to go for it. If it turns out great, fantastic. If not, it wasn’t a waste of time. We got some knowledge and experience out of it.”
Ben agrees. “The level of creative freedom of time with your 40% project time is not apparent in many other companies.”
A collaborative culture
Early in his career, Sony left ServiceNow for a different company and quickly realized that was a mistake. “By some stroke of luck, my manager at the time reached out to me in the same week that I was having these second thoughts and invited me back,” he says. “When I came back, the culture was still the same: to be empowered to make change.”
“We have a great, diverse team,” Ben adds. “The team is always there trying to help each other and build each other up. There’s a lot of cross-team and cross-org collaboration. You see the great communication and effort of work as a team within the whole company. We all just say, ‘We are ServiceNow. What we do is for the customer.’”
Learning, sharing, and collaborating with others is the name of the game for both Ben and Sony. “Team culture is good because of our diverse backgrounds, technically and culturally. Not just that, when we’re in the office, it’s pretty cool because a lot of our teams are on the same floor. We can walk around, have a chat, and get a different view,” says Sony. “I like that people are always willing to help no matter what level you are.”
Exchanging ideas as one team
Ben and Sony have also taken advantage of ServiceNow’s unique exchange program within the engineering organization. Employees can be nominated by their leadership to trade places for two weeks at a time.
“It’s nice meeting in person the people we’ve built relationships with over solving problems. I’ve done it every year I was able. I’ve been to the US twice and been to the UK three times,” Sony notes.
Ben also had the opportunity to travel around the world, including all the way to the Hyderabad, India, office to train the site reliability engineer team there.
Although walking around the office or traveling across the ocean for a real-life chat isn’t possible right now, the camaraderie prevails. “It used to be much more of a challenge working cross-organizationally and globally,” Ben explains.
“But, due to COVID and everyone being remote for a while, it’s become almost second nature. Now, everyone is remote, not in the same room, so gaining these important skills becomes a bit more natural, which really helps to be able to collaborate effectively with someone who may be sitting anywhere in the world.”
No matter the location, Sony and Ben agree our site reliability engineers are all one team with one dream: to reimagine products that will change the future.
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