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Top SRE Toolchain Used By Site Reliability Engineers
May 7, 2021
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Top SRE Toolchain Used By Site Reliability Engineers
May 7, 2021
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We have compiled a list of the most popular and sought out tools (some you may have heard of) that SREs need in their toolkit - at every phase of a production system to keep up with SRE best practices

Site reliability engineering (SRE) practices help organizations by ensuring smooth functioning of their deliverables with utmost reliability and resilience.

These can be achieved by a set of well-defined tools that are deployed at every phase of the production system to keep up with SRE best practices.

This blog identifies and lists the chain of top SRE tools and their significance towards ensuring reliability of the architecture.

How to Standardize SRE Practices with SRE Toolchain

Every organization would have its own order of practice in framing its infrastructure. So depending on how they build their architecture, the standardization of SRE tools would come into the picture. For example, a social networking architecture would focus on establishing high-level support facilities and easily scalable infrastructure. Hence they would rely on tools that center around cloud-native applications, DevOps, and CI/CD automation. Whereas on the other hand, an e-commerce platform would rely on application, data storage, and DevOps tools for building and maintaining its architecture in accordance with SRE practices.

Thus, by comparing and considering the basic requirements of every architecture, we have arrived at a set of SRE tool stack that can potentially help standardize SRE best practices.

SRE Toolchain and Top Tools Used by SREs in Each Category

1. Containers for Microservices and Orchestration Tools

Microservices are the kind of infrastructure that splits up the whole architecture (monolithic) into multiple individual logical functions or services. Containers play a vital role in gathering all the requirements (code, libraries, dependencies, binaries, etc.,) of microservices in one place to execute all their capabilities.

Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Docker Used as a comprehensive end-to-end platform that accelerates the process of portable application development both cloud and desktop Y NA
Kubernetes Generally, referred to as K8s used for automating deployment, scaling, and delivery lifecycle management of containerized applications Y NA
Swarm Natively manages a cluster of Docker containers and deploys the application services Y NA
Apache Mesos This distributed systems kernel supports linear scalability, native support for Docker containers and facilitates two-level scheduling by running native cloud and legacy applications at the same time Y NA
Podman A basic container engine used for the development, management, and running of OCI containers across LINUX systems Y NA

2. Source Control Tools

Source code is a vital element of cloud infrastructure. This main code has to be tracked, managed, and updated at once when any change is detected. This can be done with source control tools. These tools help the development team to embrace the changes in codebases. And ensures the source code is always updated for the effective functioning of the systems and infrastructure.

Git is a widely-used open source and free distributed version control system. Git is generally adopted by organization of all sizes for updating their source code and storing them across GitHub.

3. Continuous integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) Tools

Continuous integration is the automatic testing practice of every change that has been affected on the source code. And continuous deployment follows continuous integration by pushing the tested codebase to the production environment. Here are few tools that can help in executing these functions,

Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Jenkins CI/CD Automation platform that supports automation across development, deployment, and testing of any project. Y NA
CircleCI A CI/CD platform that helps in automating the application development process either across the platform’s cloud or organization’s own infrastructure Y Free & other pricing options available
GitLab It is an open core model of open-source DevOps platform that helps with collaboration, gaining visibility, and enhances development velocity Y Free & other pricing options available
GoCD Free open-source CI/CD server that helps with easy modeling and visualization of complex workflows Y NA
Semaphore A CI/CD platform that assures enormous productivity by avoiding bottleneck points across the engineering team. It also facilitates Enterprise level CI/CD pipeline as a service Y Free, Pay-as-you-go, Enterprise Cloud plans are Available

4. Data Storage tools

Data is key ingredient to every digital business. It also forms an important asset that helps businesses in easing the decision-making process. As SRE metrics are framed upon system performance data, this has to be carefully stored in the best-suited and easy to access interface. Below are a set of tools that could greatly help in data storage and processing.

Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
MySQL Fully managed database service that helps deploy cloud-native applications. It comes with a highly efficient analytics engine to accelerate the overall database services Y NA
PostgreSQL Open-source object-relational database service that has powerful features to support the cloud applications’ performance factors Y NA
MongoDB Document orientated database service that supports JSON for modern cloud applications with features like horizontal scaling, automatic failover, and the ability to assign particular data to a location Y NA
Apache Hadoop Open-source software library and framework that helps in processing large sets of distributed data across the network Y NA
Apache Hive Data warehouse software that facilitates reading, writing, sharing, and managing huge sets of distributed data through SQL. Y NA

5. Configuration Management Tools

Configuration management is the process of tracking and controlling all the changes (configuration, identification, and implementation) that are made to a software product. These tools detect any unauthorized changes and control the implementation of changes across software solutions.

Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Ansible Simple configuration management and application deployment tool that helps in enabling infrastructure as code (IaC) architecture Y 60-day trial, customized pricing available
Chef Streamlines configuration management tasks across cloud platforms to automatically provision new machines Y Flexible pricing
Puppet Model-driven software configuration management tool used to manage the entire lifecycle of IT infrastructure Y Customized pricing
Saltstack Event-driven IT automation software used for infrastructure configuration, provisioning, and management Y Offers personalized pricing

6. Monitoring and Observability Tools

Monitoring and observability are two main functions in maintaining system health. SREs work closely with these monitoring tools. The prime role of site reliability engineers is to develop custom queries across alert managers that are present inside the monitoring tools’ architecture. These functions check whether all the system functionalities are working as expected. And helps to generate alerts when there is any deviation in system behavior.

Metrics Collection Tools
Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Prometheus An open-source monitoring tool that provides a dimensional (time-series) data model of all system performance characteristics Y NA
Google Cloud Operations (Stackdriver) Helps in monitoring your infrastructure and troubleshoots applications by indicating errors with notifications Y Pricing calculator
InfluxDB Supports the development team to build and monitor time-stamped data series across the infrastructure Y Free version & customized pricing
Sensu Go An observability tool that helps in establishing monitoring as code across all cloud architecture Y Free plan, custom pricing

Log Aggregation Tools
Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Fluentd Open-source data collector built exclusively for the unified logging layer across an architecture Y NA
Sentry Collects all the system data from various endpoints and optimizes the performances of the source code Y Pricing structure
Logstash Open server-side data processing pipeline that helps the development team to ingest various data sources into a single preferred stash Y Advanced features with pricing structure

Distributed Tracing Tools
Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
OpenTelemetry Open-source observability framework for monitoring cloud-native software applications with telemetry data. OpenTracing and OpenConsensus have merged to form a standardized OpenTelemetry tool Y NA
Jager Open-source end-to-end distributed tracing platform that helps in monitoring and troubleshooting issues across a distributed network Y NA

Application Performance Monitoring Tools
Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Appdynamics Full-stack observability platform that provides real-time data insights for system performance and helps in driving business growth and productivity Y Pricing structure
New Relic Simple observability tool that helps development teams in instrumenting, analyzing, troubleshooting, and optimizing their complete tech stack Y Pricing structure
Dynatrace This tool has got observability, security features, intelligent solutions, and automation features in a single platform that helps developers to monitor the performance of the system effectively N Custom Pricing options available

7. Dashboarding Tools

Dashboarding tools help SREs to scrutinize issues more efficiently by displaying all the necessary data (Key Performance Indicators and Critical data points) in one screen. These tools facilitate pictorial or graphical representation of system data, thereby giving precise information about the system's health.

Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Grafana Provides an integrated solution to metrics and logs for composing observability characteristics in the form of graphical representation Y Free forever & Customized pricing
Stashboard Status based dashboard solution for APIs and service-based software solutions Y NA
Redash Helps to connect and create queries on data sources to visualize all the data in the form of a dashboard for easy collaboration across various teams Y 30 day trial & other pricing options available
Metabase An open-source tool for self-hosted platforms that enables them to connect data points for visualization purposes. Whereas, Metabase Cloud platform has exclusive advanced features like single sign-on and embedded analytics Y Free Open Source Version, Advanced features available with pricing

8. Incident Management / On-call Alerting System Tools

An incident management tool is an essential part while managing system architecture. These tools sit on top of all the monitoring/error tracking/logging applications and direct all the incoming system alerts to specific internal services to initiate the recovery processes.

Tools Key Features Open Source (Y/N) Pricing
Pagerduty An incident management tool with a real-time operations platform that ensures fewer outages N 14-day free trial with pricing
Opsgenie A modern incident management platform that ensures always-on digital services N 14-day free trial with pricing
Squadcast Cloud-based incident management platform built around Site reliability engineering (SRE) best practices that helps to improve incident resolution metrics and ultimately, the reliability of systems N Freemium version, advanced features with flexible pricing options

Conclusion

While choosing the right tools when building your SRE toolchain, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” set of tools.The tools SREs use at any given time will depend on where an organization is in their SRE journey. Organizations at the beginning or initial stages of their SRE journey will tend to use more specialised operations tools as opposed to more mature organizations. That said, SRE teams will experiment and adapt the right tools as they continue on their journey to seek new, efficient ways to bring more reliability to everything they do.

Regardless of the kind of platform you are running, we are sure that the tools listed here will be useful to you. On similar lines, for a more detailed look at the top observability tools used by DevOps/SREs, head over to this blog.

Squadcast is an incident management tool that’s purpose-built for SRE. Your team can get rid of unwanted alerts, receive relevant notifications, work in collaboration using the virtual incident war rooms, and use automated tools like runbooks to eliminate toil.

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