SREcon17: Brave new world of site reliability engineering

Last week, I was fortunate to participate in SREcon17 Americas, a conference organized by USENIX for site reliability engineers. What’s a site reliability engineer (SRE)? Ben Treynor, founder of Google’s site reliability team, once explained it’s “what happens when a software engineer is tasked with what used to be called operations.”

An important role in the DevOps practice, these engineers concentrate on reliability (of course) and scalability (at amazing levels) in highly distributed systems (microservices multiplying like rabbits). They run some of the largest websites on the planet and are inventing a new field of expertise while they do it.

Recordings of the conference sessions will soon be posted, so rather than summarize lots of presentations, let me share some of the culture and spirit observed at this notable gathering.

The remarkable Julia Evans, an SRE with Stripe, opened the conference with a talk called, “So you want to be a wizard?” Many presentations at other conferences seem designed to convince the audience that the speaker is a Very Serious Expert, so it’s surprising to read an abstract that begins:

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