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The valuable site reliability engineering (SRE) depends on a profound insight into a service’s fundamental architecture and infrastructure. To craft the reliable systems dynamically, it is just the beginning to enhance the visibility into infrastructure health and application. But SRE’s four golden signals are the excellent starting point for monitoring of well-being of your software systems. When these base-level monitoring methods are formed, you can persist to enhance the system visibility from thereon.

With enhanced visibility and effective collaboration methods, the SRE teams can swiftly check their system and take immediate action to restore the incidents and boosting the whole efficacy of monitoring and notifying attempts. The golden signals of SRE assist the teams to recognize any prospective weakness in the systems so that you can begin to focus on the concerns. Let us talk about the relationship between the monitoring practices and SRE teams and discuss how the four golden signals monitor SRE into the system.

SRE and Observability/Monitoring

SRE blends the abilities and responsibilities of software engineering along with the problems of IT operations to assist the teams fabricate the solutions to the concerns of reliability. Therefore, SRE teams require monitoring their services to identify those areas where reliability can be developed. This is where the monitoring suits in for the SRE teams. Monitoring though it is a small part for crafting observable systems highly, is an equally vital top-level aspect for understanding the well-being of your infrastructure and applications. The current day systems has to go beyond monitoring to not only take care of known problems but throw out from internals of the system the logs to help identifying the unknowns.

The four golden signals of SRE and monitoring help building a standard layer of visibility into the reliability of everything you build up. Further one can leverage the additional understanding of the system to get in-depth with the monitoring tools.

Here as you can see the significance of monitoring SRE golden signals, so let us get into the tangible metrics which add up to golden signals of SRE and why monitoring them is crucial to the reliability of any system!

Key Golden Signals of Monitoring

  • Latency: Latency symbolizes the time it takes to service a request over a given time. A usual way to assess the latency is the time needed to service a request in milliseconds only. For example, if an SLO is 1 minute to complete an online transaction, we need to know what are the various communication times between components to enable achieving of the transaction within the SLOs. Latency delays can even cause denial of service situation in production and thus cause an outage.
  • Error: Every team requires monitoring for errors. Be those teams are described based on manual logic or they are a failed HTTP request, the SRE teams require monitoring them closely. Most of the SRE teams utilize the incident management software to notify the crucial errors, take quick action to detect why an error is occurring, and implement towards incident remedies. We need to use Infrastructure as Code and Configuration as Code to reduce errors. We also should be using self-healing features of the tools we are using.
  • Traffic: Traffic is the number of requests coming to our servers. Different business will have different number of traffic coming to their site. Based on the expected number of traffic, our systems should be ready to accept it or else there will be an outage. We also need to understand the normal traffic and the peak traffic. For example, the number of people coming to the site daily in amazon.com is X, but during a promotion like the Maha Indian Shopping Festival, the traffic expected in multiple times more than X. The system should be able to handle that else there is outage and loss of business. Auto scaling of infrastructure and self-healing mechanisms need to be in place. However, first we need to understand what is going on and that requires observability.
  • Saturation: All the teams require monitoring the usage of their system. SRE teams need to state a metric for saturation which signifies the service reaches the greatest level. Many services begin to degrade before the usage knocks 100%, thus comprehending the function of your system is vital to classify a saturation target which makes pretty much sense. Here also autoscaling and self-healing mechanisms in place will help. However, we need to constantly keep a watch on what is happening in every component. With the Serverless, Containers and Microservices, it is difficult to monitor from traditional external tools and need to throw out the symptoms from within the system. This requires design and in-built code to create those logs on which then tools can be used for showing in an understandable way.

By putting up the observability and monitoring and notifying rules for four golden signals, make sure to make coverage for many incidents in your system. Also, you require getting deep by developing a proactive system for SRE and observability.

Proactive SRE Goes Beyond the Golden Signals

The future SRE teams are discovering proactively regarding their systems via several extra techniques. While operating systemized tests in staging as well as production, the SRE teams can learn about systems vigorously and utilize knowledge to develop reliability in their services.

  • Chaos engineering: SRE teams are utilizing chaos engineering to test their systems to spot weakness proactively. While inserting chaos in your service, you can view how the system reacts to distinct situations.
  • Synthetic monitoring: Teams with the usage of synthetic monitoring can form artificial users and replicate user behaviour through the service. Synthetic monitoring is a great way to test and ascertain the reliability of services in your bigger system based on the various user persona’s journey for the most critical ones.
  • Resiliency: There is nothing called 100% defect free or 100% reliable. The system should be able to recover and start business as normal at the shortest possible time. We look at MTTR to be lowest. To be able to do it, we need to keep working on it and one ways is to have game days to assess the resiliency of your system and team and take steps to keep improving the MTTR. You can utilize the learning to further build up more useful processes or decide the requirement for more automation that produce greater resiliency.  

Overall Summarizing the Golden Signals

Every single team requires monitoring the above golden signals of SRE who are looking out to assess the well-being of their system. In the latest ecosystem of extremely distributed systems and instant deployment, the SRE teams have their work take out for them. However, the golden signals for SRE and observability/monitoring can assist you to gain a strong beginning point from where you can enhance continuously to become better proactive along with SRE.

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