SRE Weekly Issue #20


Here’s a fairly negative review of the new Google SRE book. The author makes some well-articulated points against the tone of the book and its applicability outside Google. I’ve been hearing some talk of a condescending tone in the book, along with a tendency to claim “inventing” things that others also invented elsewhere. My copy arrives next week — should be an interesting read, for better or worse.

Full disclosure: Heroku, my employer, is mentioned.

A discussion of the impact of an outage on a company’s brand. Skip the last bit; it’s an ad. The rest is worth reading, though.

Reputation and customer loyalty suffers dramatically. The Boston Consulting Group reports that over a quarter of users (28%) never return to a company’s web site if it doesn’t perform sufficiently well.

Conflict between “dev” and “ops” (whatever they’re called at a given company) can create reliability problems. SRE is in part an effort to relieve that tension, either through embedding or enacting process changes. This article gathers opinions and ideas from ops and dev engineers and proposes three methods for alleviating the tension.

Another interesting survey-based report.

When asked what is the acceptable “downtime window” to finish migrations to minimize downtime, almost half (44%) of respondents said they cannot afford any downtime or, at most, just for under 1 hour.

I’ve done both kinds, and in my experience, migrations with planned downtime end up being the more painful ones, as one is under pressure to meet a predefined outage window, which inevitably slips.

In practice, there’s a point of diminishing returns after which you’re wasting money to get more availability than you need. That’s at the crux of this article, and it’s an interesting read.

Haven’t gotten your fill from SRE Weekly? Here’s a long list of curated SRE-related links to peruse.

Here’s a classic from the venerable John Allspaw of Etsy on running gameday scenarios in production. The general process is to brainstorm possible failures, improve the system to handle them, and then test by actually inducing the failures in production.

Imagining failure scenarios and asking, “What if…?” can help combat this thinking and bring a constant sense of unease to the organization. This sense of unease is a hallmark of high-reliability organizations. Think of it as continuously deploying a BCP (business continuity plan).

(emphasis mine)

Yup, turns out it was a hoax. Still generated an interesting conversation though.


Updated: April 24, 2016 — 8:26 pm
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