Bootstrapping an SRE Team: Effecting Culture Change and Leveraging Diverse Skill Sets

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 11:40 am12:20 pm

Aaron Wieczorek, U.S. Digital Service


The U.S. Digital Service at VA’s team (DSVA), working on its most visible applications, and Caseflow, practice a modern DevOps culture with a full CI/CD pipeline and daily prod deploys. However, the team saw two major opportunities in putting together the foundations of an SRE team. The first opportunity was to make the DevOps for the existing two applications more streamlined. The second, more impactful opportunity was to form an SRE organization that could service software project services in the broader VA.

In this talk, I’ll focus on the cultural challenges entailed in bootstrapping an SRE culture in a larger organization. Both from combining single-application DevOps teams into one shared SRE team, but more importantly from the perspective of bringing these services to a broader organization. This presentation will highlight the challenges of bringing together developers with different skill sets. However, it will also highlight the challenges of making cultural change and in building momentum so that the other hundreds of application owners within the VA hear about us through word of mouth and come to us to effect change, and in changing the nature of their development processes from a waterfall-based approach to lightweight, modern, agile SRE-based teams.

Aaron Wieczorek, US Digital Service

Site Reliability Engineer at the United States Digital Service's Department of Veterans Affairs team. Working on easy technical problems and hard bureaucratic problems, from infrastructure, to CI/CD pipelines, to network engineering.

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@conference {213066,
author = {Aaron Wieczorek},
title = {Bootstrapping an {SRE} Team: Effecting Culture Change and Leveraging Diverse Skill Sets},
year = {2018},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = mar,

Presentation Video