Employing a Full-time SRE Engineer vs Outsourcing: Pros and Cons
A Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) is a professional responsible for ensuring the reliability, availability, and performance of large-scale, complex software systems. SREs ble...
28/11/2023 | 2 Minute Read
A Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) is a professional responsible for ensuring the reliability, availability, and performance of large-scale, complex software systems. SREs blend aspects of software engineering and infrastructure management to create scalable and efficient systems. They focus on automating operations tasks, monitoring system health, and responding to incidents promptly. The goal of an SRE is to strike a balance between maintaining a stable system and enabling continuous innovation. SREs work to minimise downtime, optimise performance, and enhance the overall user experience by applying engineering principles to operations challenges. However, implementing SRE is not an easy task. It requires a combination of technical skills, cultural change, and organisational support.
One of the biggest challenges that businesses face when employing SRE is finding the right talent. SREs are in high demand, but they are also scarce and expensive. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for an SRE in the United States is $155 000 per year. Moreover, employing an SRE is not a once-off investment. Businesses also need to consider the costs of training, retention, benefits, leave allowance, and taxes.
An alternative option for businesses that want to implement SRE without the admin is to outsource their engineering requirements to a third party service provider. A third party service provider is a professional business who works for a specific project or period of time, usually on a freelance or consulting basis. Third party service providers can offer flexibility, expertise, and lower costs for businesses that need SRE services. However, third party service providers also have some drawbacks, such as security risks and legal issues.
In this article, we will compare the pros and cons of employing an SRE full-time vs. outsourcing your engineering requirements to a third party service provider, and provide some tips on how to choose the best option for your unique business needs.
Pros and Cons of Employing a Full-time SRE
Employing an SRE can have several advantages for your business, such as:
- Long-term relationship: An SRE who works as a full-time employee can build a strong rapport with your development and operations teams, understand your business goals and needs, and provide consistent and reliable service.
- Cultural fit: An SRE who shares your company values and vision can help foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement among your teams.
- Skill development: An SRE who stays with your company for a long time can learn new skills, technologies, and best practices, and apply them to your projects.
- Ownership: An SRE who feels valued and appreciated by your company can take ownership of their work, deliver high-quality results, and seek feedback and improvement.
However, employing an SRE can also have some disadvantages, such as:
- High cost: An SRE can demand a high salary, especially if they have experience and certifications in the field. Additionally, you will have to pay for their benefits, taxes, equipment, and training.
- Recruitment challenge: Finding a qualified SRE can be difficult and time-consuming, as there is a shortage of talent in the market. You may have to compete with other companies for the same candidates, or invest in hiring agencies or platforms.
- Retention risk: Keeping an SRE happy and motivated can be challenging, as they may seek new opportunities or challenges elsewhere. You may have to offer incentives such as bonuses, promotions, or career development plans to retain them.
- Overhead: Hiring an SRE can increase your overhead costs, such as office space, utilities, software licences, and management.
Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your SRE Requirements
Hiring a third party service provider can have several advantages for your business, such as:
- Low cost: A contractor can charge less than a full-time employee, as they do not require benefits, taxes, equipment, or training. You only pay for the work they deliver, which can be based on an hourly rate or a fixed fee.
- Flexibility: A contractor can offer more flexibility than a full-time employee, as they can work on demand or on short notice. You can adjust the scope or duration of the project according to your needs.
- Expertise: A contractor can bring specialised skills and knowledge to your project that you may not have in-house. They can also provide fresh perspectives and insights that can improve your processes and outcomes.
- Speed: A contractor can help you implement SRE faster than hiring a full-time employee, as they do not require recruitment or training. They can also work independently or with minimal supervision.
However, hiring a third party service provider can also have some disadvantages, such as:
- Lack of loyalty: A contractor may not be as loyal to your company as a full-time employee. They may work on multiple projects at the same time or focus on another client if need be.
- Cultural mismatch: A contractor may not fit well with your company culture or values. They may have different communication styles or expectations than your teams.
- Security risk: A contractor may pose a security risk to your company, as they may have access to sensitive or confidential data or systems. They may also breach your contracts or agreements, or violate your policies or regulations.
How to Choose the Best Option for Your Business
There is no definitive answer to whether you should employ an SRE or outsource your engineering requirements to a third party service provider. The best option depends on your specific situation and needs. However, here are some factors that you can consider to make an informed decision:
- Budget: How much can you afford to spend on SRE services? Do you have a fixed or variable budget? Do you prefer to pay a salary or a fee?
- Duration: How long do you need SRE services for? Is it a short-term or long-term project? Do you need ongoing or occasional support?
- Scope: How complex or simple is your project? What are the deliverables and outcomes that you expect? How much control or involvement do you want to have over the project?
- Skills: What are the specific skills or qualifications that you need for your project? Do you have them in-house or do you need to outsource them? How easy or hard is it to find them in the market?
- Culture: What is your company culture and values? How do you communicate and collaborate with your teams? How do you measure and reward performance?
Based on these factors, you can weigh the pros and cons of employing a full-time SRE vs. outsourcing your engineering requirements to a third party service provider, and choose the option that best suits your business goals and needs. If you would like help making the decision click here for a no-obligation consultation with the Deimos team.