General

SRE Weekly Issue #160

A message from our sponsor, VictorOps:

Establishing an effective post-incident review process and taking the time to execute on it makes a world of difference in software reliability. See this example of a post-incident review process that’s already helping SRE teams continuously improve:

http://try.victorops.com/sreweekly/post-incident-review-process

Articles

This is a long one, but trust me, it’s worth the read. My favorite part is where the author gets into mental models, hearkening back to the Stella Report.

Fred Hebert

When CDN outages occur, it becomes immediately clear who is using multiple CDNs and who is not.

A multi-CDN approach can be tricky to pull off, but as these folks explain, it can be critical for reliability and performance.

Scott Kidder — mUX

Full disclosure: Fastly, my employer, is mentioned.

This article explains five different phenomena that people mean when they say “technical debt”, and advocates understanding the full context rather than just assuming the folks that came before were fools.

/thanks Greg Burek

Kellan Elliott-McCrea

The work we did to get our teams aligned and our systems in good shape meant that we were able to scale, even with some services getting 40 times the normal traffic.

Kriton Dolias and Vinessa Wan — The New York Times

How does one resolve the emerging consensus for alerting exclusively on user-visible outages, with the undeniable need to learn about and react to things +before* users notice? Like a high cache eviction rate?

There’s a real gem in here, definitely worth a read.

Charity Majors (and Liz Fong-Jones in reply)

Being on-call will always involve getting woken up occasionally. But when that does happen, it should be for something that matters, and that the on-call person can make progress toward fixing.

Rachel Perkins — Honeycomb

Delayed replication can be used as a first resort to recover from accidental data loss and lends itself perfectly to situations where the loss-inducing event is noticed within the configured delay.

Andreas Brandl — GitLab

Outages

SRE Weekly Issue #159

A huge thanks to my awesome former coworker Greg Burek whose helpful link contributions make up fully half of this issue.  Thanks, Greg!

A message from our sponsor, VictorOps:

Are you an SRE working with Microsoft Azure? Learn more about the key services offered in Azure and how SRE teams can leverage these tools and applications to build and deploy reliable services at a consistent pace:

http://try.victorops.com/sreweekly/microsoft-azure

Articles

This paper discusses the ways in which automation of industrial processes may expand rather than eliminate problems with the human operator.

My favorite bit of irony: presenting data to the user in the manner most readily understood results in lower likelihood of remembering the data, so perhaps the most easily grasped display is not actually the best!

Lisanne Bainbridge

Like malice and incompetence, laziness should be far off our radar when we investigate an incident. I hope that reading this article opens minds about the true scope of blamelessness.

Devon Price

Whether or not you agree with this particular attempt at defining what a Systems Engineer (or SRE or anything related) is, it’s worth thinking about and discussing. Our field is evolving quickly, and titles are a moving target.

Matt Ouille

Driven by a desire to update their 737 without causing airlines to have to retrain pilots, Boeing seemingly kept pilots in the dark about what may have been an important little detail of how the new 737 Max operates, with a tragic result.

James Glanz, Julie Creswell, Thomas Kaplan and Zach Wichter — New York Times

An experienced SRE will develop an innate skepticism of new technologies, even if they don’t realize it. This article provides an excellent list of questions to help articulate that skepticism when evaluating a potential design.

Kellan Elliott-McCrea

Auto-scaling isn’t all roses. Like any tool, you have to understand how it works in order to avoid the pitfalls. Read this article to learn what these folks learned the hard way.

Tyson Mote — Segment

Transitioning to a blameless culture can be difficult, especially as folks might blame each other for forgetting to be blameless!

Rachael Byrne — PagerDuty

Many of the old arguments for not instrumenting code (mostly about performance) no longer apply, and a host of new arguments push toward structured events.

Charity Majors

Outages

SRE Weekly Issue #158

A message from our sponsor, VictorOps:

The golden signals of SRE and monitoring helps identify a great starting point for teams looking to proactively build reliability into highly integrated applications and services.

http://try.victorops.com/sreweekly/sre-golden-signals

Articles

This air traffic accident analysis is chilling to listen to, and also incredibly educational. As you listen through the conversation, it becomes more and more clear that the pilot is suffering from information overload. An Incident Commander would be wise to remember the lessons learned here.

After listening to the above recording, I got hooked and kept listening to more and more case studies. Here’s another enlightening one: Real Pilot Story: From Miscue to Rescue

US Air Safety Institute

PagerDuty is quickly approaching Etsy’s level of awesome incident-related articles and guides.

Rachael Byrne — PagerDuty

Retiring features and products can often be harder to do safely than deploying them in the first place.

Rachana Kumar– Etsy

Do your SLIs measure what really matters to your customers? This article discusses how to find out and what to do if they don’t.

Adrian Hilton and Yaniv Aknin — Google

Outages

SRE Weekly Issue #157

A message from our sponsor, VictorOps:

See how VictorOps built their SRE efforts from scratch and structured SRE operations across a smaller team. Developing a culture of collaboration and accountability takes time and effort – but it makes all the difference:

http://try.victorops.com/sreweekly/building-a-culture-of-sre

Articles

Best article about post-incident investigations that I’ve seen in awhile. My favorite part is the recommendation not to use a template for the retrospective, as it will artificially narrow the scope of the investigation.

Ryan Frantz

These folks have set up a survey to gather information on whether and how folks are compensated for on-call in IT. This topic has been gaining traction over the past couple of years, and I can’t wait to see the results of the survey. Please take a moment to fill it out.

Chris Evans and Spike Lindsey

I’ll be speaking at SRECon19 Americas this March with my former coworker, Courtney Eckhardt. The talk lineup looks incredible and I’m really excited to go!

If you’re going to be there, drop me an email (I’m terrible at Twitter) and let me know. I’ll have lots of swag available, made with 100% open source software (Ink/Stitch and inkscape-silhouette).

Especially useful for folks new to on-call.

If you only take one thing away from this post, it’s that you need to put your own well-being first, and once you do that other aspects of on-call will become easier.

Dave Fennell — Hosted Graphite

I have to admit I wasn’t clear on two-phase commit before I read this. Now I know what it’s all about — and its drawbacks.

Daniel Abadi

This guide from Google describes the qualities and practices of SRE teams of various levels from beginner to advanced.

Gustavo Franco — Google

A good intro if you’re new around here.

Sylvia Fronczak — Scalyr

Outages

SRE Weekly Issue #156

A message from our sponsor, VictorOps:

DevOps and SRE go hand-in-hand. See how building a DevOps culture of transparency and collaboration can inherently lead to proactive SRE efforts – and ultimately, more reliable systems:

http://try.victorops.com/sreweekly/devops-leads-to-inherent-sre

Articles

Lots of companies seem to be redesigning their status pages lately. I love learning what was wrong with the old one and what they’ve changed to try to fix it.

Benjamin Stein — Twilio

A cringe-worthy story of a system failure (thankfully not production!) along with some ideas on preventing such failures.

Dan Woods

Just like last year, Catchpoint will donate $5 to charity if you take their survey!

This year we are back with a focus on outages and incidents. What impact do incidents have on the organization and the people responding to the incidents? How does this change across industry and organization?

Catchpoint

You can do a lot better than “the server is unhappy.” Be on the lookout for language like that. It’s usually a good learning opportunity or at the very least a good time to fill some gaps in instrumentation.

Arya Asemanfar — LightStep

Outages

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