min read

The hidden costs of ignoring Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)

Site reliability engineering is a long-term investment that will enhance the reliability, scalability, and security of your IT infrastructure.
A photo of a site reliability engineer performing a SRE service for a client.
Article author
Written by
Felicjan Rybka
Published on
April 3, 2024
Last updated on
April 11, 2024

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) is a discipline that combines software engineering and IT operations principles to create highly reliable and scalable systems. Typically, a site reliability engineer focuses on automating tasks, monitoring system performance, and responding to incidents to ensure continuous service availability and site reliability.

Neglecting SRE practices can lead to significant hidden costs across all industries. The most common issues are interruptions in uptime, increased operational burden, unplanned emergency fixes, difficulty in scaling, and, of course, increased security risk.

By reading this article, you will learn about the costs associated with downtime and what you can do to avoid it. With the right procedures in place, you can achieve 99.999% (“five nines”) availability, meaning 5.26 minutes of downtime per year (or 6.05 seconds per week).

Top issues caused by a lack of SRE teams

Without proper monitoring and proactive maintenance, your IT system is more prone to downtime, which can cause you financial losses and damage your reputation. Moreover, manual operations tasks and other repetitive tasks increase the workload for software developers and operations teams.

Inefficient resource utilization leads to higher infrastructure costs. A system that is not designed with scalability in mind may struggle to handle increased loads. Neglecting site reliability principles can also increase security vulnerabilities, as your system may not be adequately patched and updated, increasing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

Additionally, for financial service companies, going offline can result in increased fraud risk and regulatory fines. For the logistics and transportation industry, such operational disruptions may cause supply chain delays, lost deliveries, and customer dissatisfaction. In the insurance service industry, delays in claims processing can damage a company’s reputation, lead to customer churn, and negatively impact its financial condition.

Another invisible price of neglecting SRE

However, there is another significant hidden cost of overlooking site reliability - employee burnout and turnover. High-stress environments that result from frequent incidents often lead to employee burnout and increased turnover, which impacts not only your productivity and reputation but also the bottom line. 

According to data published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost of recruiting a new employee is nearly $4,700 per hire. Many employers estimated the total expense as even 3 to 4 times the position’s monthly salary. This is especially true for experts such as software engineers and site reliability engineers.

Key benefits of having a site reliability engineer on board

Site reliability engineering offers several benefits that impact not only development and operations teams but the whole organization. 

Some of the most essential advantages of investing in Site Reliability Engineering are:

  • Improved uptime, high system availability, and enhanced system reliability
  • Enhanced system scalability and improved efficiency of operations teams
  • Shift-left security and better safeguarding of sensitive data
  • Proactive monitoring and increased observability across the entire software delivery pipeline
  • Simplified regulatory compliance and improved quality assurance
  • Widespread automation of repeatable processes that leads to a significant reduction in manual effort and operational costs
  • Quick detection and removal of bottlenecks and vulnerabilities
  • Dependable system design and architecture resulting in enhanced customer experience

You can learn more about the benefits of managed SRE in our Complete guide to SRE as a service.

The true cost of downtime

Each industry faces unique challenges related to downtime, ranging from security vulnerabilities and compliance failures in financial services to operational disruptions and customer dissatisfaction in logistics. Implementing Site Reliability Engineering practices is crucial for mitigating these risks.

Financial services

In financial services, the cost of downtime is unlimited, often ranging from thousands to millions of dollars per minute, depending on the size and scope of the organization. For example, a large bank or trading platform could incur losses of $1 million or more per minute of outage.

Organizations that handle sensitive customer data are always the primary targets for cyberattacks. During a system performance halt, data may become more vulnerable to fraudulent activities, which in turn can result in more financial losses. Downtimes expose security vulnerabilities that could lead to unauthorized access, data theft, and financial fraud.

Moreover, financial systems must comply with stringent security standards to protect customer information and financial assets at all times. A bank or credit union is no place for unpatched software or misconfigured systems, and having a site reliability engineer in place is a great way to solve problems like these.


Every modern warehouse relies on real-time inventory visibility to manage stock levels, optimize storage space, and fulfill customer orders at a rapid pace. Unfortunately for companies in the logistics industry, system outages can affect warehouse operations, transportation schedules, and inventory management, leading to significant financial losses - especially during peak times. Prolonged downtimes can cause a massive disruption in a warehouse management system and similar tools, leading to stockouts, overstock situations, or inaccurate inventory records.

In the last few years, we’ve seen how supply chains have been disrupted by wars and viruses. Downtimes can cause similar delays in the supply chain as well, impacting the timely delivery of goods and materials and resulting in penalties for late deliveries and additional costs for expedited shipping or alternative logistics arrangements. However, the biggest loss will be in the clients’ trust.

The power of site reliability engineering practices

Incorporating SRE into your organization can mitigate most of the risks described above and the costs associated with downtime. By working with site reliability engineers, you can enhance not only the reliability of your systems but also optimize their scalability and maintain their security, which will reduce the risk of cyber threats.

Below are five advantages an SRE team can bring to your organization.

1. Proactive monitoring and incident response

Everyone knows that a proactive approach is better than a reactive one, especially if you want to mitigate risks. Being proactive in monitoring of systems and applications is at the core of SRE practices. This proactive approach to responsibilities will help in detecting issues before they escalate and cause availability issues or security breaches. By implementing robust monitoring tools and automated alerting systems, SRE teams can quickly identify and respond to anomalies, minimizing their impact on operations.

2. Automation and streamlined software development

Site reliability engineers promote widespread automation, and efficient implementation of SRE practices should result in automating most of the routine tasks and operational procedures, which significantly accelerates incident response times. Some tasks site reliability engineers often automate are new features deployment process, build testing and other quality assurance tasks, configuration tools management, and incident resolution.

3. Scalability and capacity planning

To fully benefit from the advantages of modern IT infrastructures, companies should utilize scalable software systems. Site reliability engineers will regularly conduct performance testing, identify potential bottlenecks, and scale your resources proactively, which not only helps you improve software reliability but also minimizes your overall infrastructure costs. With SRE teams on board, increased workloads and fluctuations in demand are handled without sacrificing system performance or site reliability.

4. Security and compliance

Thanks to SRE practices, your organization will incorporate security responsibilities into every stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Robust security controls and regular security audits will become a core part of your entire development and operations process, allowing your business to minimize technology-related risks and your developers to build software tools efficiently.

5. Continuous improvement and learning culture

Every SRE team follows a culture of continuous learning and innovation. The practice of constant improvement and feedback loops allows organizations to change the way they operate every single month, week, or even day. Your SRE team will conduct post-incident reviews and root-cause analyses after anything happens, so your development team and the whole IT department will quickly discover areas for improvement. System reliability and software engineering teams will cooperate to implement corrective actions, introduce custom automation, and iterate on processes to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

Take the first step to improve your IT operations with expert site reliability engineers

Site reliability engineering is a long-term investment that will enhance the reliability, scalability, and security of your systems. When properly implemented, its features simplify tons of everyday processes, improve development teams’ productivity, and positively impact your bottom line.

Don’t wait until the next system outage or security breach occurs. Take a step toward building a resilient and future-proof IT infrastructure by contacting us today and scheduling a free consultation.  

Our expert consultant will examine how investing in site reliability engineering will impact your current infrastructure, identify areas for improvement, and develop a tailored SRE implementation roadmap for your business.

Table of contents
more articles from