What started as a small team of seven engineers at Google is currently a globally accepted and practiced software engineering approach to IT operations and is the driving force behind Enterprise IT stability. SRE has become an integral practice of IT organizations across industry verticals, specifically in cloud-native distributed computing environments. The objective is to strike the right balance between introducing new features and services, while also ensuring application availability.
SRE practices can be grouped into four main categories; availability, performance, monitoring, and incidence response. The SRE team is responsible for stabilizing the availability of systems and services in production, improving performance, implementing and managing monitoring solutions to provide a holistic view of system health, and timely incident responses.
Depending on the organization’s ecosystem, the SRE topology may differ, but SRE teams rely heavily on automation and software tools to improve IT service delivery. With the plethora of options available in the market today, it can be a daunting task to zero in on the right mix of SRE tools for your organization. Based on the four main SRE categories, here is a list of tools that are widely used by SRE’s and SRE teams.
Application Performance Management and Monitoring Tools
In today’s digitally connected world, use cases for performance monitoring extend beyond website, mobile applications, and business applications to include network, processes, services, and end users (customers and employees).
Application performance monitoring (APM) tools track key performance metrics by offering greater observability across the entire application and infrastructure stack. These tools help to improve application stability, uptime, optimize service response time, and improve infrastructure utilization.
Some of the APM tools are:
Datadog is a monitoring platform for cloud applications. The platform integrates data from servers, databases, containers, and third-party systems to make the entire IT infrastructure stack observable. The platform helps to track performance metrics as well as monitor events for IT infrastructure, including cloud services.
Kibana is an open-source data visualization and exploration tool that allows your SRE teams to build a dashboard over log data collected in the Elasticsearch cluster, a popular analytics and search engine. The tool can help you analyse operational metrics and identify security events with its easy-to-use features, such as line graphs, histograms, heatmaps, and pie charts.
New Relic is a cloud-based observability platform that enables enterprises to track application performance and monitor availability. You can see the application performance data in real-time, and it helps to view your application, concerning the end-user experience, right down to the specific line of code.
AppDynamics provides real-time insights and code-level visibility to help enterprises understand how their code impacts user experience, application, and infrastructure performance. AppDynamics code-level profiling and transaction tracing help in identifying resources that are slowing down the application and the reason behind it.
Nagios is an open-source network monitoring tool that helps enterprises monitor the availability, uptime, and response time of every network node. The tool monitors the network for issues caused due to overloaded network connections. It also allows you to monitor routers and switches.
Prometheus is an open-source service monitoring system. It was initially developed by the engineers at SoundCloud and was subsequently accepted into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as a second project after Kubernetes.
The Prometheus monitoring system includes a multidimensional data model, and a powerful query language called PromQL. The system collects metrics from configured targets at predefined intervals, evaluates and displays the results
Automated Incident Response System
An automated incident response system refers to the process and methodology for systemic and calibrated response to security breaches. The methodology allows your Security Operation Center (SOC) to respond to incidents in real-time to prevent any business disruption.
Your team can manage the responses using these orchestration and automated tools.
Grafana is an open-source visualization and analytics tool suited to time-series data. The platform helps you to integrate disparate pools of data and visualize the unified data in a single dashboard. You can organize dashboards into different folders and assign permissions to them, based on importance and criticality.
PagerDuty offers real-time incident response functionality through its SaaS platform. It reduces the mean time to repair (MTTR) by immediately notifying the operations team about the incident.
VictorOps (Splunk On-Call)
VictorOps, renamed as Splunk On-Call, is an incident management software that integrates with log management, monitoring, chat tools, and more, for a unified view into a system’s health. The tool adds context to alerts for easier and faster remediation.
Opsgenie is an incident management platform that provides actionable alerts to ensure critical incidents are reported and responded to on time and by the right people. The platform includes an analytics module that can help you track incident response metrics and team productivity.
OpenTelemetry is an open-source observability framework that offers vendor-agnostic tools to collect telemetry data from cloud-native applications and infrastructure. It helps to simplify the management of applications in a distributed environment by standardizing telemetry data collection and transmission to backend platforms.
Honeycomb is an observability tool that helps DevOps and Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) teams analyse events in a distributed system and address issues faster. It follows a free- form model of collecting and querying data across layers and dimensions, unlike the single request tracing model followed by legacy tools.
Epasagon is a fully automated, cloud-native application performance monitoring and troubleshooting platform. It helps Dev & Ops teams to quickly solve issues related to automated data correlation and provides unique payload visibility; thus, enabling real-time, and end-to-end observability within all your microservices.
Real-Time Communication Tools
Real-time communication tools or messaging platforms enable interpersonal and group communication in a secure environment. The platform can integrate with enterprise systems to send notifications and alerts to the SRE teams.
Here are some messaging platforms that bridge the internal communication gap:
Slack is a preferred workplace communication tool. Slack, now part of Salesforce, is primarily a collaboration tool for teams; but due to its elegant user interface and client applications, it is also used for customer support.
It can also be used as a programmatic platform for automating events or responses, which can help the SRE team with incident management. Rootly, an early-stage start-up, is building an incident-response solution within Slack to help SREs respond quickly to incidents.
Microsoft Teams is a collaborative platform within Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suite of applications. It is a good solution if your organization is using the Microsoft productivity suite. The chat-based collaboration functionality of Microsoft Teams helps local and remote employees connect and communicate across different devices.
Telegram is a simple and reliable messaging platform used as a lightweight alternative to Slack by SRE teams. Telegram API (Application Programming Interface) enables programmatic secure access to the application.
Project Tracking Tools
Project tracking is an activity within the project management function that provides real data about the progress of a project. Project tracking tools help managers measure the progress of the team to keep projects on schedule and within budget.
Here are some of the project tracking tools:
Jira is an issue and bug tracking tool that is used by agile development teams to track bugs and other tasks. The tool’s objective is to coordinate the development of a product by effectively managing issues and bugs.
Since its inception, Jira has evolved to be a complete project management tool and incorporates many great features, like workflow mapping, interactive dashboards, and advanced reporting.
Trello is a project management and team collaboration tool that enables you to organize your projects into boards. The project and tasks can be organized into columns similar to a whiteboard with a list of sticky notes.
Trello is popular for its simplicity and easy-to-use features that enable anyone to learn and start using the tool within a day. The tool offers comprehensive project management functionalities and supports integration with many third-party applications and services.
Asana is a cloud-based workflow and project management tool that helps to streamline projects. The tool allows users to inspect other employees’ progress, leave comments, or add new tasks. The tool enables teams to analyze their progress and address issues in one place, thus, enhancing their productivity.
Infrastructure Deployment Tools
Infrastructure deployment tools help to allocate resources in the DevOps environment for faster application delivery. However, there is no single tool that can meet all your requirements, such as server provisioning, configuration management, code deployment, and management. You must use the right infrastructure deployment and automation tools, based on platform architecture and your infrastructure needs.
Terraform is an infrastructure as code (IaC) tool that enables you to build, change, and version infrastructure. You can provision both low-level components, like storage and networking, and high-level components, like DNS entries, and SaaS features.
Ansible is an open-source IT automation engine used as a DevOps tool to automate time-consuming, complex, and repetitive tasks, such as configuration management, cloud provisioning, application deployment, and intra-service orchestration.
SaltStack is a configuration management and orchestration tool that automates repetitive system administration and code deployment tasks, subsequently reducing errors of a manual process. The tool uses a central repository to provision new services and other IT infrastructure.
Start your SRE journey
Site Reliability Engineering helps enterprises create and support scalable and highly reliable software systems. SRE will gain in prominence as enterprise adoption of cloud native applications increases and distributed computing continues to evolve.
As a digital experience company, we have the expertise of methodologies and tools that can help you get started on your SRE practice. Our technical expertise, and consultative approach can help you build a solid foundation for your SRE function, identify automation opportunities, and improve the quality of IT service.
For more information, get in touch with us today.