In 2020, the acceleration in digital transformation pushed more and more companies to adopt digital technologies to stay competitive. Organizations that had well-established DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering practices were able to respond and adapt fast, while others sat on the sideline and watched. But as business executives start grasping the strategic importance of DevOps, the opportunities to become a founding Site Reliability engineer are skyrocketing.
For DevOps to continually speed up delivery and enhance the quality and reliability of new features, engineers must (and do) keep learning and improve their skill sets; this often translates into learning on the job. However, if you want to become a founding SRE, you should have strong technical skills, demonstrate considerable expertise in the field, and a growth mindset.
Technical skills needed to be a founding SRE
As a founding SRE, you set the grounds for the organization’s DevOps operations and necessary cultural shift. While a DevOps mindset is essential to frame the responsibilities and tasks of the team you are coordinating, having extensive experience in development, operations, and full-stack implementation is fundamental to establish and employ Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery practices effectively.
It is, therefore, crucial to have advanced knowledge in one or more programming languages such as Python, Java, or GoLang, or another language to script installation, configuration, and provisioning. Without programming experience, you will have difficulty setting up a stable and efficient pipeline or building new automation tools to optimize your team’s activities.
From a technical standpoint, DevOps requires a commitment to automation in order to continually speed up workflows and improve performance and software quality. To do so efficiently, you must know inside-out the various DevOps tools that support asynchronous collaboration and the automation of DevOps lifecycles. Furthermore, as a senior SRE, you should also provide continuous delivery solutions in a cloud environment.
In today’s accelerated digital transformation context, the growing demand for faster product development and delivery of new features increases security risks. As a highly skilled SRE, you can predict and eliminate security issues rather than fixing them in code.
Essential DevOps Tools a Founding SRE Should Know
As a first infrastructure hire, you are responsible for instilling a continuous collaboration and communication mindset and building the organization’s DevOps culture. As a leader, you will be mentoring and coaching DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering teams. A critical thinker and skilled problem solver, you should demonstrate experience in providing solutions to complex issues in a straightforward manner.
The role of a founding engineer requires an in-depth understanding of the core practices of DevOps. Tools such as configuration management, deployment automation, infrastructure orchestration, containers, CI servers, monitoring and analytics, testing and Cloud Quality tools, and network protocols are second nature to any Site Reliability Engineer who envisions becoming a company’s founding SRE.
However, DevOps is an ever-evolving space, and while these are some of the most prominent DevOps tools today, to be a stellar SRE, you should never confine yourself to a specific set of tools but instead have a growth mindset. Founding Site Reliability engineers are able to adapt to any environment and attune with the industry’s evolution or even predict what is to come. For example, their methodical approach to DevOps leads them to consider building or buying a new feature.
Although DevOps continues to be a candidate-driven market, its high earning potential attracts a growing number of engineers. However, only the top 10% SREs successfully become founding engineers in high-growth companies. And there is a good reason for it: they look at how their actions impact the business rather than simply accomplishing a set of predefined tasks. Striving to improve your knowledge and skill sets will secure you a technical advantage, but what ultimately sets apart a founding Site Reliability engineer is their forward-thinking mindset.
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