The Case for Ops Engineering Pay Equity w/ Charity Majors

TL;DR: Operators need pay/status equity to succeed.

Charity Majors is one of my DevOps and SRE heroes* so it was great fun to be able to debate SRE with her at Gluecon this spring.  Encouraged by Mike Maney to retell the story, we got to recapture our disagreement about “Is SRE is Good Term?” from the evening before.

While it’s hard to fully recapture with adult beverages, we were able to recreate the key points.

First, we both strongly agree that we need status and pay equity for operators.  That part of the SRE message is essential regardless of the name of the department.

Then it get’s more nuanced. Charity, whose more of a Silicon Valley insider, believes that SRE is tainted by the “Google for Everyone” cargo cult.  She has trouble separating the term SRE from the specific Google practices that helped define it.  

As someone who simply commutes to Silicon Valley, I do not see that bias in the discussions I’ve been having.  I do agree that companies that try to simply copy Google (or other unicorns) in every way is a failure pattern.

Charity: “I don’t want get paid to keep someone else’s shit site alive”

I think Google did a good job with the book by defining the term for a broad audience. Charity believes this signals that SRE means you are working for a big org.  Charity suggested several better alternatives, Operations Engineer.  At the end, the danger seems to be when Dev and Ops create silos instead of collaborating.

Consensus: Job Title?  Who cares.  The need to to make operations more respected and equal.

What did you think of the video?  How is your team defining Operations titles and teams?

(*) yes, I’m working on an actual list – stay tuned.

This entry was posted in DevOps, Events, SRE and tagged , , , , by Rob H. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rob H

A Baltimore transplant to Austin, Rob thinks about ways of building scale infrastructure for the clouds using Agile processes. He sat on the OpenStack Foundation board for four years. He co-founded RackN enable software that creates hyperscale converged infrastructure.

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