System engineering: Is system reliability key?

System Engineering

System engineering is the combined procedures and functioning of designing, operations, management, and system retirement combined for purpose of meeting a need. All elements of hardware: software, types of equipment, and workforce are included to achieve system-level results. The anticipated results are:

  • System-level results
  • Properties
  • Characteristics
  • Functions
  • Behavior and
  • Performance.

Software engineers should always consider system reliability and not just SREs. If an engineer is building a software system, he/she has a more vested interest in ensuring that the software system architecture is as reliable as much as possible.

What is system reliability?

System reliability is the concept that assures the users of the system that it will perform its core functions, for a specific time, and under specified conditions. System reliability is an important aspect of system development because it determines the likelihood of the system solving the user’s needs. It is always a better idea to plan for it at the designing phase and not later. When architecting system reliability in the cloud, distributed systems awareness, and their shortcomings should be paid attention to. Reliability as a subset of availability can be adduced as the time percentage of the system when it is up.

Deficiency in Availability

If there is a deficiency in availability, and the system experiences lag, then the user/s of the system would not derive the intended benefit of your system and would opt for other systems available in the market. System reliability relies on the collective responsibility of the engineer and the users of the system in the organization. System reliability is very important because its uptime directly has an impact on the bottom line. Downtime is lost productivity that directly affects revenue loss; therefore, all the stakeholders should always be aware of taking responsibility for system reliability to ensure it serves its purpose and is readily available when needed.

Contributions each role has to the system.

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)

Site reliability engineering is the based on the software system engineering approach to Information and Technology processes. Here, the teams deploy use of software tools in system management to offer solutions to system issues and automation of tasks.

  • They help in identifying the inherent risks and keep the efficient running of the system.
  • In case of system downtime, or failure it ensures there is a backup procedure in place
  • It helps the system to meet its expectation as they advocate for users' needs.

 Software Engineer (SWE)

SwE support processes focus on the successful vertical deployment and use of software system elements and the management needed to achieve this. They also support their equivalent horizontal SE processes in contributing to the success of the whole system life cycle

  • SWE designs resilient applications and implements them.
  • They ensure data storage is durable in case of a failure the system can do recovery.
  • They handle all forms of system errors.

Quality Engineer (SQE)

Software quality engineering (SQE) is the quality change improvement procedure that is applied during the development of the system cycle. SQEs ensensurevOps teams come up with quality software t t intintegratesll into workflows, that is agile and productively sound. QE tests the robustness of the system in its ability to handle load and traffic. In general, organizations should always be proactive in their approach to preventing issues related to reliability rather than being reactive when problems arise in system failure. Making and improving system reliability is a journey that requires the collective responsibility of everyone involved and not just a one-off activity. This can only be nurtured by harnessing a culture of continuous learning and improvement at every step of the journey

What causes Reliability issues in a system?

The major causes that bring about system reliability issues are varied, but would most likely include:

  • Lack of expertise and knowledge in earlier detection and identification of reliability risks.
  • Lack of focus on the part of the organization on system reliability during the phase of SDLC.
  • Minimal support for coming up with necessary conditions for maintaining and sustaining system reliability over time.

All these factors more often lead to faults that go unnoticed and only come up under untested load situations or conditions. This is usually a hard place an engineer could find himself or herself in. Organizations should always be proactive when it comes to dealing with risky changes.

Risk Management

When there is a major change during the extension of a system, risk management is paramount. It means awareness of a potential risk associated with the major change is set very high, and that mitigation factors are put in place to nib in the bud any serious problem before it happens to the system. It entails making sure there are necessary precautions to avoid downtime by seamlessly migrating users if need be, to avoid causing inconveniences. Monitoring the system to anticipate issues and laying out appropriate structures that prevent them from impacting users is important. Monitoring is an important component that can help detect issues early on so that they can be addressed before causing havoc and impact on user experience, and UX. It also helps in tracking trends that help identify future problems being mitigated.


Observability in control theory is the ability of engineers to infer the internal states of systems from the knowledge of their external outputs. Putting an investment in observability is important for engineers and organizations. This can greatly help foresee and therefore minimize the impact; a system failure could bring to the users. An engineer would always want to shield a customer from such happenings. Observability therefore can help identify errors and minimally bring down the mean time recovery. Conclusions.

  1. An increase in system awareness processes around reliability.
  2. Share responsibilities in the running of the system.
  3. Have an understanding of the most common triggers of reliability issues.
  4. Apply proactive approaches to risks and anticipation of failures.
  5. Investing in the observability of the system and monitoring measures.
"The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't even notice it, so it's part of everyday life.- Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft.

About the Author:

Fadhil Kennedy is doing Business Management and Information Technology at Kabarak University.



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