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Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Vs Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) - Which is Right for You?

By Team Srijan Oct 6, 2022
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Vs Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) - Which is Right for You?
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Vs Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) - Which is Right for You?

Thanks to technology, there has been a rapid introduction of products and services that address a variety of problem statements. While this has led to widespread customer connect, it has also increased customer expectations. 

So, as this market continues to grow, customer needs will evolve exponentially. In an attempt to serve these needs, businesses aim to adopt the latest tech-enabled solutions to scale faster. The result? Complex systems that are supported by multiple processes, people, and tools. While organizations continue to adapt and keep moving forward, it also becomes crucial for them to simultaneously maintain the health of these systems for maximum performance; A balancing act that cannot be taken for granted. Even the slightest bottleneck that chokes the consistent coordination of the three elements can lead to a system failure. 

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” ― E. James Rohn

This quote, though philosophical, accurately showcases the secret recipe for the success of your products and services. In the world of technology this secret recipe, of successful product management, is Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). ITSM is the strategic approach to design, deliver, manage and improve the way your business uses information technology. One or all of these approaches help businesses keep up the consistent performance of their products. Activities and processes that support a product or a service throughout its lifecycle, from service management to change management, problem and incident management, asset management, and knowledge management are covered under this umbrella. Such approaches are a boon for huge organizations with thousands of employees and decades of history of extremely complex systems that proportionately require huge management efforts. It is very customer oriented and contains 5 steps:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement

As technology evolved, the world witnessed numerous ITSM approaches such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). In this blog, we discuss these different approaches and which of these make sense for your organization. 

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) - The OG Framework

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. This method was developed to create a single source of best practices for information technology. A quick look at its history reveals that it was ‘Developed by the British government's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) during the 1980s’. 

The ITIL first consisted of more than 30 books, developed and released over time, that codified best practices in information technology accumulated from many sources (including vendors' best practices) around the world. ITIL is in its fourth version now and condensed to nine books. These books, although shorter and aligned to modern technology, still constitute ITIL’s traditional ideas. This includes: automating processes, improving service management, and integrating the IT department into the business. All-in-all ITIL is rather top-down in nature, structured, and process driven. 

Some of its key practices include service catalog and design, monitoring and event management, incident and problem management, release management, configuration management, and more. These are operating model agnostics and the implementation of these can also be modified to fit organizational needs. While ITIL is essentially a framework for implementing ITSM practices, it can be applied to almost all businesses, even if the only customers that IT focuses on are internal ones. ITIL and ITSM align on many issues.

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) - The Smarter Cousin on the Block

Site reliability engineering services involve application of software engineering methodologies and procedures to resolve reliability issues with operations and site infrastructure of a product or a service. Like ITIL, it too has evolved tremendously from just being a technical practice to having a larger impact on organizations and the achievement of their business goals.

The origins of SRE are traced back to 2003 at Google when Ben Treynor Sloss, a software engineer himself, applied software engineering principles and practices to the operations side of things. SRE as a practice has seen monumental growth from its humble beginnings and as of today, Google has 1000+ SRE engineers. It has been widely adopted across the software industry and an SRE Engineer is a uniquely positioned role.

SRE vs ITIL - same, same, but different

From the outside, the difference between ITIL and SRE would look minuscule since both come under the umbrella of IT service management. However, these approaches are a little different from each other. So, there is no straight way to come to a decision on which works better for your business. It is governed by a few factors. Let's compare both of these approaches.

  • Framework vs Methodology

    ITIL is simply a framework designed to deliver and manage IT services efficiently, while SRE is a methodology. The availability of site reliability engineering tools like APM, real-time communication tools, etc. makes it a more definitive and viable solution than the manual approach adopted by the traditional operation team. It makes sure that all the cloud-based solutions and services keep working uninterruptedly; a prerequisite for businesses these days.

  • The scope in the future for…

    ITIL and SRE are equally bright. However, SRE is the most recent approach of ITSM, and naturally has all the latest techniques in it. In fact, the SRE support teams have started adopting a cloud native approach with their IT operations. Although ITIL just had its 4th version released and certainly has the latest techniques, it needs to catch up when compared to SRE. 

  • SRE should be your choice if …

    Agile and DevOps are on your cards! As already mentioned, SRE and ITIL have enough future scope. However, SRE has a natural edge over ITIL when it comes to Agile and DevOps.

    SRE centers explicitly around the unwavering quality and versatility of complex creation framework activities. It intently lines up with the Agile and DevOps-driven processes that are being embraced worldwide and likewise promotes collaboration from the very start. Some of these approaches include persistent combination, testing, and conveyance. It brings the insight of creation thus serving the original intent of DevOps: teams working together, finding better solutions to problems. It reduces the divides that have obstructed IT for such a long time.

    SRE refreshes the traditional ITSM exercises with practices that are innovative and have the potential to correct their own course.  The main SRE book is a guide for SRE engineers as it provides critical guidance on various tasks such as regulating scenes, picking up from dissatisfaction, testing for steadfast quality, load altering, dealing with different sorts of emergencies, programming planning, and extension evaluation. 

The approaches differ in the way of working and implementation. Correctly identifying your business objective will help you reach a clear answer, for example, if you want to adopt DevOps for your organization, you should go for SRE. SREs and SRE groups are urged to be inventive and responsible and must invest half of their energy lessening drudge by designing mechanization to improve tomorrow than today. Like Agile and DevOps, SRE underlines self-guidelines with arrangements and outcomes.

Srijan can help you!

As an organization, you can introduce SRE as a function, but you run a high risk of overburdening your already overloaded IT operations team. However, we can help you mitigate this risk as an SRE partner. Being a digital experience company, SRE is a default offering in our service gamut. 

As partners for various organizations, we have owned and scaled their SRE on an agreed roadmap. We first perform an exhaustive analysis of your existing IT systems, determine what comes under the purview of SRE, zero in on the how and why, and get you started on your SRE journey.

Let’s talk. Get in touch with us right away.

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