Site reliability engineering (SRE) is actually older than the DevOps movement. In 2003, Google tasked its software engineers with making the massive sites more efficient, reliable, and scalable. When the skilled team was successful, other large companies adopted the practices. Then, with a little bit of time, the site reliability engineer specialty was born.
Many professionals are intrigued by the SRE niche. Not only can the work be challenging (in a good way), but the roles are often lucrative. Plus, many site reliability engineers get to take advantage of emerging technology, especially in the automation arena, to make their coworkers’ jobs easier, something that can be rewarding on many levels.
To be successful as a site reliability engineer, you need to bring a vast and diverse skill set to the table. If you are wondering whether you have what it takes to excel, here is a look at the top skills and experiences the world’s best site reliability engineers have in common.
Systems or Software Engineering Experience
SRE is technically part systems and part software engineering. If you are interested in transitioning into the field, then having a few years of experience in either of those specialties can help you get your foot in the door. However, you’ll need a solid grasp of both to truly thrive in an SRE position.
If you come from the systems engineering side, then improving your programming skills is a great way to prepare to become a site reliability engineer. Software engineers should expand their understanding of large-scale systems management.
Infrastructure Automation Expertise
Infrastructure automation is at the core of much of what site reliability engineers do. They are often tasked with creating self-service tools for various user groups, allowing activities like test environment provisioning, event logs, and statistics visualizations to be handled with ease.
Additionally, the various automated measuring tasks create opportunities to increase reliability, something else that so is critical to the success in the role that the put the word in the job title.
Fundamental Soft Skills
While technical prowess is a must, site reliability engineers also need a variety of soft skills to excel in their roles. First and foremost, problem-solving capabilities are essential. Similarly, being able to work as part of a team and remain calm under pressure are also must-haves.
Both written and verbal communication are also critical in the SRE niche. Professionals working in the field need to be able to communicate well with their teammates and a range of stakeholders, including many individuals who aren’t as tech-savvy.
Looking For a New Tech Career? Reach Out to The Armada Group!
Ultimately, all of the world’s best site reliability engineers possess the skills and experience listed above. If you would like to learn more about the field or are seeking an SRE position, the team at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us to discuss your goals and interest with one of our skilled staff members today and see how our SRE expertise can benefit you.
Salesforce is a CRM solution that has taken the world by storm. The cloud-based solution provides businesses with a lot of value when it comes to managing customers, and its user-friendly interface is just as comfortable for the tech-savvy as it is for technophobes. Like any technical system, it requires professionals to manage certain aspects of the solution. And that’s where a Salesforce Administrator comes in.
These tech pros may go by other names as well, such as CRM System Analysts or Business Analyst, but these Salesforce admins have a similar goal: Help the company improve using the specific CRM solution.
If you are interested in the potential of these positions, here is everything you need know about a career as a Salesforce admin.
Salesforce is the Backbone of Operations
In most cases, you’ll spend your time analyzing business processes and determining how Salesforce can improve their efficiency and effectiveness. This involves customizing features and implementing new ones based on the specific needs of the associated department. By following this method, more portions of the business operates from a central hub, keeping key data points and processes centralized.
However, at times you will have to look at external applications to fill specific needs. Typically, you’ll work to ensure a chosen solution will integrate with Salesforce, allowing everything to remain connected at some level. With the prevalence of Salesforce in the market today, it isn’t surprising that a wide range of applications works to make themselves compatible. That means, in most cases, finding a suitable option is very possible.
Education is a Necessity
The vast majority of Business Analyst positions, regardless of the software solutions in place, list a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree as a qualification. This is because people working in these jobs need to have a strong understanding of a range of fields, including customer service, finance, human resources, marketing, and sales. A Salesforce admin should expect to need at least that level of education, though some businesses may require something more advanced or that you hold additional certifications in Salesforce as well.
A Range of Duties
Salesforce admins have responsibilities in many areas, and not all of them are technical. On the IT side, you could be responsible for managing the platform, researching and trying new tools, configuring the system, and completing integrations. Documentation and training are also involved, and may or may not be overly technical in nature.
You may also spend a significant amount of time doing business process reviews and making recommendations. This involves evaluating established procedures, gathering requirements, and speaking with users about their current and preferred experience. During these tasks, you may spend a significant amount of time discussing how a technology can solve their problems, even if they aren’t technically-minded professionals. To make that work, you’ll need to be able to explain complex tech-oriented concepts in easy to follow ways.
Not every Salesforce admin has the same duties, as different companies or departments will divide the work according to their needs. However, this overview should give you a solid starting picture of what a career in the field is like, allowing you to determine if it might be the right path for you.
If you want to pursue a position as a Salesforce admin, the professionals at The Armada Group can locate opportunities at some of the leading businesses in the area. Contact us to discuss your career goals and see what we have to offer.
If you aren't happy with the quality of the candidates responding to your job postings, it's time to take another look at how you're describing the position and your company. If you put a just a little more thought into how you're writing your postings, you can get a much better response rate which will lead to better hires.
Keep the purpose of the job posting in mind.
A job posting that just describes the job by listing all its responsibilities makes the job sound like work. While prospective hires are interested in the nature of the work, they also want to know about the company and the work environment. The posting needs to make the company sound like a place they want to spend eight hours a day.
Tell the candidate what's in it for them.
Let the candidates know the kind of contribution they'll be making to the company, the industry, or society. Describe the challenges they'll have to overcome and how they'll learn and grow from the experience.
Learn from the way your company markets its products.
Successful companies know that products sell by promoting their benefits, not by listing their features. When you describe your organization and the project you're staffing, think about the ways those qualities will impact the new employee's work experience.
Ask them to think about the kind of person they are.
If you ask a question like "are you the kind of person who…?" you can either draw readers in or lose them at that first sentence. In the case of job ads, this means the prospective employees who read on and answer your ad are more likely to fit in with your organization.
Speak a language they'll understand.
Industry-standard acronyms are fine in tech ads. But using acronyms that refer to internal systems and processes doesn't tell candidates anything. Using language like that makes readers feel excluded and pushes them away.
Make the ad easy to read.
Dense rows of text are intimidating. Make the posting, and your company, appealing by making the listing easy to read. Use a clean font, plenty of whitespace, and bullet points to make details easy to grasp.
Make it easy to respond to the ad.
Online application systems are often very frustrating to candidates. Sometimes information is mandatory when it doesn't need to be. Other times, the candidate needs to upload their resume and then correct errors in how the automated system parsed its contents. Not every candidate will be motivated enough to work through these issues. Maybe you want to weed out unmotivated candidates, but it's usually better to simplify the application process.
You probably have specialists to do your product marketing; you can also use specialists to market your job openings. The cost will be far outweighed by the benefits of a more effective job posting that fills the position quickly.
There are many business applications still running on Cobol, but new developers would never base their career solely around learning Cobol. Even for developers who are working with more modern languages and methodologies, specializing in a single technology isn't the best basis for a career.
Besides the fact that technology changes rapidly (Cobol aside!), developers with a skill set across the technology stack are more valuable to their organization. These developers can step up and pitch in wherever help is needed, and their understanding of the challenges of different technologies provides a foundation for working in architecture, project lead, or managerial roles in addition to a varied programming career.
Software ultimately runs on physical facilities, so understanding the limitations of hardware and networks helps engineers make appropriate design decisions. Projects can either take advantage of, or be limited by, the specific operating system they are running on, so understanding this is key. Network configurations raise performance issues and security concerns, especially with growing use of the cloud. Mobile devices offer unique challenges as well. Applications won't succeed unless developers understand these issues and handle them appropriately.
There are fads and trends in programming, so while knowing a specific language is helpful for a while, having a solid foundation in good software engineering practices is more important. Developers need to fully grasp the concepts of object-oriented design in order to write reusable code that speeds projects. Debugging skills are often overlooked, but crucial. So is the ability to reverse engineer and work with existing code, so developers should practice reading and analyzing code they didn't write.
Ultimately, most applications require manipulating data, so developers should be comfortable with a variety of databases. Developers should be able to write SQL queries and work with stored procedures. Although many data-dependent projects will have DBAs to fine-tune the database, developers should be comfortable with the basics of database design and performance tuning. Because "big data" is increasing in importance, developers should learn how to work with very large datasets.
Understand Front Ends
Applications aren't useful until someone uses them, so developers need to understand what makes an effective front end. A designer may polish the look and feel, but developers should understand what works well on different platforms – thick clients still exist, and web applications and mobile apps present different challenges.
When software moves from test to production release, making sure it runs properly is the job of the site reliability engineering team. Sometimes the production environment is different from the development and test environment, so the application doesn't have the same performance it had during test. Sometimes there are more users than anticipated, and the application doesn't scale up. Sometimes real-world data causes problems that test data didn't uncover. Whatever the issue in production, site reliability engineers need to figure out the cause of the problem and put the necessary changes into place to make the application successful.
At some companies, the SRE function is called DevOps, because it's all about moving applications out of development and keeping them operational.
Monitoring and Planning Ahead
A lot of the site reliability engineer's role is about keeping an eye on the system and planning for issues. For an SRE, the "system" means the entire system, including the application, third-party software, the hardware, and the network. The SRE team monitors the system to make sure it meets availability and responsiveness requirements.
The team also looks to the future of the system. They make sure any planned changes, to any component, minimize impact to users. They review capacity and come up with plans for expansion. They also have the responsibility for dealing with unplanned downtime and planning for disaster recovery.
Site Reliability Engineer Skills
Site reliability engineers need solid software engineering skills. They need to understand how software works and how different software products interoperate. SREs often write complex scripts to automate operational tasks. But they also need to bring a broader perspective than just application software development, and understand networks and system administration.
Site reliability engineers need to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, who can work under pressure to figure out a system problem and create a solid solution for bringing things back under control quickly. They need to be analytical, to review data about system usage and system problems, in order to develop plans for the future of the application.
Communication skills are important; SREs need to be able to ask questions of other technical teams to figure out the problem and also to explain to management both the problem and the solution. SREs are part of a team and need to be able to work with a variety of colleagues.
Site Reliability Engineer Career Path
In some cases, SREs choose to strengthen their software engineering skills and move to the software engineering team to create the future of the application. Other SREs choose to develop their system engineering skills and continue to work within site reliability engineering. For those who are interested in management, success as an SRE can lead to firm-wide responsibility for managing infrastructure and shaping the future of the enterprise.
It’s hard not to have heard about the IT talent shortage. While many industries are still slowed, or even stopped, due to the effects of the recession, the tech job market continues to grow — and IT hiring managers are struggling to hire the right people. Unemployment is low for the IT industry, and tech pros can afford to be more discerning when it comes to accepting job offers.
With all the challenges that already surround hiring IT talent, you can make your life easier as a hiring manager by avoiding these common technical hiring mistakes.
Mistake #1: Poor job descriptions
The IT recruitment process starts with the job description — and if you don’t have it right, you’re not going to attract the right talent. Accuracy is particularly important for IT job descriptions. If candidates show up expecting to interview for a certain job, only to find the position isn’t as described, they’ll take a pass on accepting any offers.
Make sure your job descriptions convey the nature of the position and the requirements accurately, and as briefly as possible. Skip the laundry lists of every hard and soft skill you can think of — instead, focus on three-to-five core technical requirements, and one or two essential soft skills. The rest of the information you need will come out in the interview.
Also, keep in mind that your job description is selling your company to candidates, so emphasize the benefits and the reasons a candidate should choose to work for you over your competitors.
Mistake #2: Bad first impressions
You know how much significance you place on your first impression of a candidate — so remember that the candidate will also have a first impression of you and your company, and it may be good or bad. When you’re in hiring mode, it’s easy to forget about keeping your best foot forward, and many hiring managers make this mistake.
Make sure you’re dressed appropriately, the overall work environment is presentable, and you have someone to greet candidates and point them in the right direction when they arrive. First impressions definitely count for candidates who have multiple employment options.
Mistake #3: Inadequate interview prep
Just as the most successful job candidates never go into an interview unprepared, the best hiring managers make sure everything is lined up prior to interviewing candidates. On your end, being prepared for an interview means having that great first impression ready, ensuring that your interview team has clearly defined roles according to which parts of the interview they’re responsible for, and letting candidates know in advance what to expect during an interview — including any testing that may be involved.
Mistake #4: Lack of enthusiasm
Just as you want to hire a candidate who really wants to work for your company, candidates want to work for a company that really wants them on board. As a hiring manager, you’re the first line of enthusiasm for candidates — who are hoping to recognize from their interaction with you that your company is a great place to work, and they’ll make a good fit with your culture.
Be conscious of the type of picture you’re painting for candidates during the interview. If you focus too much on the issues surrounding the position, you may end up turning candidates off instead of engaging them. Offer realistic expectations, but at the same time sell the benefits of the position.
Mistake #5: Waiting too long
In slower economic times, hiring managers often have the luxury of taking their time with the hiring process, and waiting to make a job offer until they have multiple possibilities to choose from. But in today’s IT job market, this is not usually the case. If your phone screenings, interview calls, and face-to-face interviews are spread out over a week or two, you’ll find that the most desirable candidates have competing offers by the time they get to you — and you’ll have to work even harder to land them.
It’s a better idea to streamline your hiring process as much as possible. When you find qualified candidates who seem like a good fit, compress the screening and interview process down to a few days. Then, make the job offer immediately when you’ve decided on a great candidate.
With the rapid evolution of the Cloud, today’s companies no longer wonder whether they should climb aboard the Cloud bandwagon, because the answer is yes. The only question is how much of your infrastructure should move to the Cloud, and when.
Hybrid cloud environments—infrastructures that mix cloud services with on-premise solutions—are here to stay. But many organizations still aren’t leveraging the cloud in the most effective ways. The primary reason for this is a focus on costs, as companies try to replace on-premise solutions with the cheapest cloud services possible.
However, there’s far more value in choosing cloud components on the basis of innovation, and aligning your hybrid model with the primary functions of your business.
Identifying candidates for the cloud
When planning a hybrid cloud environment, CIOs need to separate their workloads by business function, and decide which functions would be best served by migrating to a cloud-based service. For most businesses, these functions will be the core enterprise workloads.
Infrastructure components like messaging, supply chain, HR, service management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are typically ideal cloud candidates. These functions can be expensive to maintain through on-premise solutions, and difficult to integrate with a network. The cheaper, faster cloud alternatives for core enterprise workloads help organizations improve automation and cross-departmental functionality, delivering a more streamlined and cost-effective environment.
In these spaces, migrating to the cloud can be equated with buying innovation. Advances in software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) enable more features, better scalability, and decreased downtime for universal cloud-based services that are common to most businesses.
Choosing on-premise solutions
Where most companies err in developing hybrid solutions is choosing the cloud to save time and money for workloads that feed into core business functions. On-premise solutions allow for more robust and innovative platforms, which further key differentiators and help organizations remain competitive in their primary fields.
For functions that serve as your company’s main profit centers, on-premise solutions are the right choice. Your infrastructure investments should be directed toward these on-premise models—including all that money you’re saving by migrating core enterprise workloads to the cloud. On-premise solutions allow you to retain control of every aspect, which permits greater innovation and competitive advantage.
Blurring the line: Tips for maintaining hybrid environments
In most cases, dividing workloads into enterprise and core won’t always be a clean or simple process. The flow of information between departments must be taken into account, and full integration can be challenging with a hybrid model.
In an environment with cloud components, control is always decentralized to some degree. There will be parts of the IT process outside of your control, particularly when you’re feeding multiple cloud services into an on-premises environment. Within a hybrid system:
- The IT environment is chaotic (but it can be controlled)
- Operational performance will rely on external systems to some degree
- The user experience is highly distributed, with some aspects reliant on a third party
- Visibility is the key to optimized performance
Successful hybrid solutions will extend visibility to every component of the network layer. With orchestrated visibility, you can control the flow of information even when some elements are outside your control.
Choosing the right components to migrate to the cloud, and ensuring a seamless information flow with high visibility, will help you develop and maintain an effective hybrid environment that delivers optimal ROI for your organization.
Looking for a job can get hectic. There’s so much to do and keep track of, it might seem like a miracle when you get anything done at all. But many job seekers have a powerful tool that can be used to stay organized, boost your productivity, and streamline your job search — your iPhone or iPad.
Here are four great productivity apps for iOS and OS X devices that can give you a hand in finding the perfect job.
For job seekers, email is crucial. Apple’s Mail program allows you to easily connect to and manage your email account from your device, whether you’re using IMAP, POP3, an Exchange server, or a web-based service like Gmail.
Mail is designed to be user-friendly on a smaller screen. This streamlined application focuses on the tasks and information you use most often, and offers rich functionality such as support for multiple email accounts and multiple signatures, and a Smart Mailbox that automatically alerts you of critical messages — like interview requests from potential employers.
The best part is that Mail is already built into the OS X platform, so you can start using it right away to configure your inbox for your job search.
Similar to Google Docs, the iWork suite comes with programs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Like Mail, this app is designed for easy use on a small screen, and the interface is intuitive when it comes to common tasks.
The individual apps are Pages for word processing, Keynote for presentations, and Numbers for spreadsheets. The iWork bundle includes a large collection of professional templates, including several for resumes and cover letters. With iCloud integration, you can also quickly share any content created in iWork.
This app bundle is free for devices using OS X and iOS 7 and later.
Need to focus on writing a killer cover letter, taking notes on prospective employers, or preparing great answers to interview questions? WriteRoom helps you out by eliminating distractions so you can focus on the task at hand.
This full-screen app has an old-school feel, with green text on a black background. Distractions are eliminated with a simple interface that doesn’t contain all the bells and whistles of other word processing programs. And while using WriteRoom, your email alerts and other notifications are blocked to help you avoid the procrastination of checking your messages every five minutes to see if you have a job offer yet.
A whiteboard can be a great brainstorming and planning tool for job seekers, but they’re not exactly portable. Scapple turns your iPhone or iPad into an electronic whiteboard that allows you to quickly build lists and ideas, specify relationships intuitively, and capture the results in PDF format.
This nonlinear planning tool encourages creativity in your job search. Some of the features include the ability to change font colors, backgrounds, and note shapes, add or edit arrows to indicate relationships, and a drag-and-drop interface for organizing and combining notes.
The app comes with a free 30-day trial, and costs $14.99 to purchase.
Need help in your search for a new IT career? The Armada Group can help! We specialize in placing job seekers in top IT positions throughout the nation. Contact us today to learn more.
There is no doubt that the standard interview has weaknesses. The interview as a hiring tool is not going away any time soon — but recruiters and hiring managers need a way to strengthen this process in order to make better decisions and find the right candidates for the job.
While your interview format should still retain some standard questions, you can uncover the best candidates by adding nontraditional questions into the mix. Here are five unexpected interview questions that will help you refine your hiring process and select great candidates for your open positions.
1. What is your definition of success?
This question is similar to the standard “what are your career goals” line, but it places a slightly different emphasis on a candidate’s aspirations. By asking interviewees to give their own definition of success – without tying it specifically to the position they’re interviewing for – you’ll know not only what their goals are in terms of working for your company, but also whether they’re looking for a long-term career or just a paycheck. You can also gain insight into whether the position is a good fit for them.
2. What are the first three things you do when you arrive at work?
This nontraditional question gives you a look at the candidate’s work style, level of organization, and work ethic. Everyone has a different method of dealing with their work day, but the answer to this question should indicate that the candidate handles tasks in a timely and efficient manner. In addition, you’ll discover more about their relevant skills and knowledge through their response.
3. What types of people bother you?
Regardless of the position, the ability to work within a team is important for any candidate. Asking this question gives you insight into a candidate’s cultural fit, so you can gauge how well they’ll get along with your existing team. Honesty in divulging a few pet peeves is fine as a response, but if a candidate either states that they get along with everyone, or churns out a laundry list of complaints, these could be potential red flags.
4. What are the most effective approaches for managing you?
This question can give you insight on both cultural fit and the candidate’s working style — whether they’re low-maintenance and function best with little to no guidance, or perform well under detailed direction and support. Depending on the existing managerial style at your organization, a candidate’s response may signal an ideal fit, or a potential problem aligning with your leadership.
5. Please list and rank factors that affect your job acceptance.
With this question, you can find out what a candidate is looking for in terms of deciding on the right job for them. This is a more subtle way to uncover candidates’ salary and benefits expectations, willingness to perform, and what they believe the position will entail — which will hopefully align with the actual job description. You can also use this question to make the right offer and win over top talent who may be considering positions at other companies.
In today’s connected business environment, answers to standard interview questions are readily available to determined candidates. Asking both standard and nontraditional interview questions ensures that you’ll receive more than rehearsed responses, and helps you determine which candidates are the best choice for your organization. Speak to the staffing experts at The Armada Group today to learn how unconventional interview practices can expedite your hiring process.
Motivation can be a difficult concept to pinpoint and identify. Different people have different reasons for taking or working a job, and subsequently, different aspects they like in a job. Tailoring one specific aspect may work for one, or even several employees, but certainly not everyone. Therefore, understanding a multitude of reasons is ideal for maintaining high morale and an effective, productive work force. Here are the top five things tech employees want in a job:
1. Compensation and benefits.
IT workers know how much they’re worth – and it’s considerable in comparison to other verticals. Paying a fair wage ranks among more than 50 percent of IT professionals as their primary motivator. However, pay is unique because it’s often the primary, but almost never the only motivator.
2. Job Stability.
When a professional accepts an offer, there is an unspoken agreement that both sides commit long term. When a professional is unsure about their future, or the future of their IT department, this creates a perpetual undertone of instability – which often can create or encourage self-serving behavior in employees.
IT workers, perhaps more than other sectors, enjoy being challenged and solving complex problems. Mundane, routine, and repetitive tasks can wear on a professional’s enthusiasm. Workers want new tasks and responsibilities, even if they aren’t attached to a pay raise or promotion. Allowing workers to trade tasks can be an effective means to combat this.
4. Flexible schedule/Remote working.
Most IT workers are on a computer most of the day – enabling a large plurality the ability to work from home. Many workers are even willing to take a pay cut to work from home or work their own hours. Regardless, this is also one of the top requests from tech employees.
5. Relation with superiors.
This is a broad category, ranging from effective leadership to employees feeling that their opinions are valued. Often, workers want “attaboys” and praise or recognition, and will opt for a company that offers them more freely. Other professionals simply want to have a say in the direction of a company or project. Whichever the case may be, your company should strive to avoid an oppressive environment, instead allowing ideas to transfer freely.
There are a number of reasons different people choose different employers. The business culture of a company is often equally as important as the compensation and pay. Thus, creating a culture suitable for innovation is the most important aspect of an effective IT workforce.
At The Armada Group, culture is one of the ways we create lasting relationships between employer and employee. We carefully vet candidates to understand what they’re looking for, and match them to businesses of a similar vision. This method has enabled us to recruit for some of the top companies in the U.S., as well as the fastest growing companies in the world. Contact us today to see how we can help you.