Updates from ISTE: new tools to empower our future explorers and digital citizens

Editor's note: This week our Google for Education team will be joining thousands of educators at the annual ISTE conference in San Antonio. Follow along here and on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Technology is transforming how students learn and the skills they need to succeed.


Today at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, we’ll be highlighting new tools and programs built to empower students to explore, build and think critically as active learners. Look out for a deeper dive on each of these announcements on the blog throughout this week.

Students as inventors and explorers

  • Recently we announced a new browser-based version of Google Earth that makes it easier than ever for teachers to bring the world into the classroom using Chromebooks. Today we are excited to introduce 10 new stories in Google Earth Voyager, our new storytelling platform, built specifically for the classroom. We collaborated with National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue to create beautiful, curated Voyager stories which offer students a new perspective on the world. We’re also unveiling new classroom activities for teachers to get started today. This week, Google Earth will become an additional service for Google for Education users, which can be managed by IT administrators through the Google Admin panel.

[edu] earth alamo.png

Google Earth knowledge card of the Alamo, not far from the ISTE 2017 conference!


  • We’re always looking to highlight great educational content on Chromebooks that can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom, while also fostering skills of the future. Today we’re announcing a collection of STEM tools for Chromebooks -- Dremel 3D40 3D Printer and littleBits Code Kit -- that schools can purchase at a bundle discount from their Chromebook reseller. These tools bring engineering into the classroom and help students become inventors.


  • Coming soon, the Expeditions app for Cardboard and Daydream will offer a self-guided mode so anyone can access more than 600 virtual field trips on their own. Students and teachers will be able to pick an adventure to anywhere—from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China—and see details on points of interest highlighted on cards. We hope that this encourages exploration and personal education, making it easy to learn using virtual reality.

Students as critical thinkers and responsible digital citizens

  • In addition to the bundle of STEM tools announced above, we are offering a discounted bundle of media literacy apps on Chromebooks, Scrible and eSpark Frontier. The tools are designed to support students as they research and write using contemporary online information and help students form opinions about the media they consume.


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Impact Portraits paint a picture of school success with Chromebooks and G Suite

Today, we’re sharing seven new Impact Portraits from school districts across the U.S. The districts range in size and demographics from Florida’s Brevard County, which covers a diverse coastal area with 73,000 students, to upstate New York’s Amherst Central, with 2,944 students.


One thing these schools have in common: they're using Chromebooks and G Suite to drive measurable improvements in everything from reading skills to AP diploma graduation rates. In the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, for example, Indiana’s measure of third grade reading skills has grown by 10% since adopting Chromebooks. Check out g.co/EduImpact to find all of the Impact Portraits, and stay tuned for a closer look at the collection later this week.


The school districts whose Impact Portraits we’re sharing today include:

Look out for a deeper dive on each of these updates on our Keyword blog throughout this week. If you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 in the expo hall. And check out our teaching theater sessions—taking place in room #214D—where educators and Googlers will be giving short presentations throughout the conference.

Source: Education


Google Home arrives in Canada

“Ok Google, good morning.”

There’s never a dull moment at home -- from getting the family ready to go in the morning to kicking back after a long day, and everything in between. Wouldn’t it be great to get some extra help? 

Starting today, Canadians can get their hands on Google Home, our voice-activated smart speaker, powered by the Google Assistant in English and French.
With a simple “Ok Google”, you can get results from Google Search, turn up the music, manage your everyday tasks or even adjust your compatible smart lights.

Help from your Google Assistant 
Need to solve a problem? Ask Google Home to translate phrases, do simple math calculations, or share definitions. Want some help in the kitchen? Ask to get nutritional information and unit conversions with flour-covered hands. Too busy to stay on top of the news? Ask and you shall receive the latest Canadian stories from sources such as the CBC, Radio Canada, Global News, Sportsnet, TC Media, The Weather Network / MétéoMédia and more.

Your Assistant can also have fun—it can tell you jokes, play trivia or make animal sounds. Ever wanted to know what a whale sounds like? Now’s your chance to find out.

Enjoy your music
Find the right beat for every occasion, from practicing yoga to hosting a dance-a-thon with your little ones. The Assistant on Google Home lets you enjoy your favourite tunes. Simply say “Ok Google” and you can play songs, playlists, artists and albums from Google Play Music, Spotify, and more.* 

Manage your everyday tasks
Canadians are busy -- and the Assistant on Google Home is now here to help. With your permission, it will give you answers for things like your commute, your daily schedule and more. Just ask “Ok Google, tell me about my day” or say, “Hey Google, how long will it take to get to work?” and you’ll get up to speed on everything you need to know.

Google Home is there to give you an assist around the house, too. All you have to do is ask and it will wake you up in the morning (or let you snooze), set a timer while you’re baking, and more.

Control your smart home 
You can control your lights and switches in your home using compatible smart devices from brands like Nest, Philips, Samsung SmartThings and more.** Just ask, and Google Home will turn off the kitchen light.

If you have a Chromecast, you can also use voice commands to play Netflix and YouTube on your TV or binge watch your favourite show. Simply say, “Ok Google, play ‘Stranger Things’”.***

A speaker designed for any room
Whether you’re hosting a dinner or a solo dance party, Google Home delivers crystal-clear sound, giving you an enjoyable listening experience across all types of music. Plus, we designed Google Home to fit stylishly into any room. And you have the option to customize your Google Home with a choice of interchangeable metallic bases, available in Copper or Carbon.

We know Canadians have been patiently waiting for Google Home to arrive, and we’re working to bring the Assistant to Canadians in English and, for the first time ever, in French. Your Google Home experience will get better over time, as we add more features, partners and more. And of course, we’ve hidden a few Canadian treats for you to discover along the way. Why not try asking your Assistant on Google Home about some of its favourite foods or sports teams?

Google Home is available starting on June 26th from the Google Store, Bell, Best Buy, Fido, Indigo, London Drugs, Rogers, Staples, The Source, Telus, Visions, and Walmart.



From creation to community: creator updates from VidCon 2017

With creators flying in from all over the world to meet one another, celebrate what they’ve accomplished, and get in some quality time with their fans, VidCon is one of our favorite events of the year. Aside from being just plain fun, it gives us a chance to show you what we’ve been working on at YouTube. In fact, just today we presented a bunch of new ways we’re hoping to support creators’ growth on the platform and now we want to tell you too.

Sneak peek at YouTube Studio Beta

Many of you use YouTube Creator Studio on desktop to help manage your channel. And while the current site has some useful tools (that won’t be going anywhere), we’ve decided it’s time to rebuild Creator Studio from the ground up. The new experience will be called YouTube Studio (easier, right?). It’s gonna be awesome, and we hope you’ll help us make it even awesome-r by joining our beta.

The overall plan with YouTube Studio is to let you do more in less time. The design will be refined (like… a lot), and we’ll add a number of new features that creators have already been asking for. A smart inbox that houses personalized suggestions for engaging with fans, collaborating with creators, and more is only one of a series of features we’re working on. And we’re going to need your help to make them better!

If you’re interested in being one of the first people to try out the beta, you can sign up here. The fact is, no one knows YouTube better than creators, so we want you to be the ones to tell us what’s working, what’s not quite working, or what you think is missing.


More love for comments

The relationship creators develop with their community is what makes YouTube unique. And since comments are such an important way for you to connect with your fans, we’re working hard to make them better – and your feedback’s already been a huge help.

First up, a few months ago we introduced a new feature called creator hearts. With just one click, you can now heart a favorite comment and show some love to the person who wrote it. You can also pin comments you like to the top of your feed to be sure that all your fans can see them. And we’ve seen that viewers love this kind of personal attention--they open these notifications at a rate that’s 3x higher than regular ones. We’ve also made it easier to manage the tone of the conversations on your channel thanks to a series of tools that let you delegate moderation to trusted members of your community, as well as a beta feature that automatically holds potentially inappropriate comments for your review.

Finally, we’re working on a new approach to comments that can help your fans get even more out of your channel. We call them comment topics, and they give viewers a way to browse comments according to (you guessed it) the topics being discussed. It's a great way to automatically highlight what's unique and interesting about the conversations on your channel. It’s also totally optional, so if you don’t feel like having comment topics, don’t worry, you can disable them or delete individual topics.


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And now… making money

Over the last few months we’ve been really happy to hear that creators are using (and liking!) our new monetization tool called Super Chat. Designed to let you interact directly with your fans even more, Super Chat also represents a totally new way to make money on YouTube. Here’s how it works: during live streams, fans can purchase highlighted chat messages that stand out from the crowd. And over 65% of channels that use Super Chat have more than doubled their income during live streams. Super Chat’s already available for creators in 21 countries and today we’re adding 17 new countries to that list!

As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in the world of creator product updates – and a lot of it is thanks to you! We promise to keep working hard, and we hope you’ll keep helping us make YouTube the best place for you to share your voice, see the world, and connect with the communities that matter to you.

Posted by Manuel Bronstein, Vice-President of Product Management

The High Five: sun’s out, man buns out

Winter and summer. George and Amal. Barbie and Ken. These classic duos were among the top searches from this week.

Changing of the seasons

This Wednesday was summer solstice in the northern hemisphere—which means in other parts of the world, winter is coming. The cities searching the most for “first day of summer” are in Southern California (don’t they have good weather all year?), while New Zealanders are searching the most for “first day of winter.” And around the world, people are searching 3,200 percent more for summer than winter.

Is it hot out here, or is it just me?

For some, summer was a little too much this week. It was so hot in Phoenix, AZ that planes couldn’t take off safely, prompting searches like “too hot to fly in Phoenix, “Phoenix airport delays,” and “Phoenix high temperature today.” Other U.S. cities that were searching most for weather: New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York.

Bambinos and amigos     

George and Amal Clooney welcomed twins earlier this month, but this week people were more interested in George’s other big news: the sale of his tequila company, Casamigos. Top-searched questions included, “Where can I buy Casamigos tequila?” “How much is a bottle of Casamigos tequila?” and “Who bought George Clooney’s tequila?” In fact, search interest in tequila shot 350 percent higher than vodka.

Meat lovers are ticked off

Doctors are reporting that bites from the so-called Lone Star Tick can cause red meat allergies. But is it real? How can people avoid it? And why is it called the Lone Star Tick? These are the questions people are curious about. Most people searching for the lone star tick (named for a star-shaped mark on its back) aren’t actually in the Lone Star state—the top states searching were Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and Maryland.

Ken gets a makeover

This week, Mattel unveiled a new cast of Ken dolls, the biggest revamp since 1961. These new Kens come in different shapes and sizes, including “broad” and “slim” body types, leading searchers to look for “dad bod Ken doll” and “diverse ken dolls.” But in the end it wasn’t Ken’s new bod that had people searching—it was his hairstyle. One new Ken is sporting a highly-contested accessory from the past few years: the man bun. The internet couldn’t resist satirizing man bun Ken’s personality, fitness habits and political leanings, and search interest in "man bun ken" spiked 300 percent higher than “dad bod Ken.”

ken

The High Five: sun’s out, man buns out

Winter and summer. George and Amal. Barbie and Ken. These classic duos were among the top searches from this week.

Changing of the seasons

This Wednesday was summer solstice in the northern hemisphere—which means in other parts of the world, winter is coming. The cities searching the most for “first day of summer” are in Southern California (don’t they have good weather all year?), while New Zealanders are searching the most for “first day of winter.” And around the world, people are searching 3,200 percent more for summer than winter.

Is it hot out here, or is it just me?

For some, summer was a little too much this week. It was so hot in Phoenix, AZ that planes couldn’t take off safely, prompting searches like “too hot to fly in Phoenix, “Phoenix airport delays,” and “Phoenix high temperature today.” Other U.S. cities that were searching most for weather: New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York.

Bambinos and amigos     

George and Amal Clooney welcomed twins earlier this month, but this week people were more interested in George’s other big news: the sale of his tequila company, Casamigos. Top-searched questions included, “Where can I buy Casamigos tequila?” “How much is a bottle of Casamigos tequila?” and “Who bought George Clooney’s tequila?” In fact, search interest in tequila shot 350 percent higher than vodka.

Meat lovers are ticked off

Doctors are reporting that bites from the so-called Lone Star Tick can cause red meat allergies. But is it real? How can people avoid it? And why is it called the Lone Star Tick? These are the questions people are curious about. Most people searching for the lone star tick (named for a star-shaped mark on its back) aren’t actually in the Lone Star state—the top states searching were Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and Maryland.

Ken gets a makeover

This week, Mattel unveiled a new cast of Ken dolls, the biggest revamp since 1961. These new Kens come in different shapes and sizes, including “broad” and “slim” body types, leading searchers to look for “dad bod Ken doll” and “diverse ken dolls.” But in the end it wasn’t Ken’s new bod that had people searching—it was his hairstyle. One new Ken is sporting a highly-contested accessory from the past few years: the man bun. The internet couldn’t resist satirizing man bun Ken’s personality, fitness habits and political leanings, and search interest in "man bun ken" spiked 300 percent higher than “dad bod Ken.”

ken

Libraries across the U.S. are Ready to Code

Editor’s Note: Alan Inouye leads public policy for the American Library Association, and today he tells us about a new partnership with Google that will equip librarians to offer coding programs for kids in their communities

Emily Zorea is not a computer scientist. She’s a Youth Services Librarian at the Brewer Public Library in Richland Center, Wisconsin, but when she noticed that local students were showing an interest in computer science (CS), she started a coding program at the library. Though she didn’t have a CS background, she understood that coding, collaboration and creativity were  critical skills for students to approach complex problems and improve the world around them. Because of Emily’s work, the Brewer Public Library is now Ready to Code. At the American Library Association, we want to give librarians like Emily the opportunity to teach these skills, which is why we are thrilled to partner with Google on thae next phase of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative—a $500,000 sponsorship from Google to develop a coding toolkit and make critical skills more accessible for students across 120,000 libraries in the U.S.

Libraries will receive funding, consulting expertise, and operational support from Google to pilot a CS education toolkit that equips any librarian with the ability to implement a CS education program for kids. The resources aren’t meant to transform librarians into expert programmers but will support them with the knowledge and skills to do what they do best: empower youth to learn, create, problem solve, and develop the confidence and future skills to succeed in their future careers.

ReadytoCode_ALA_1.jpg
“It always amazes me how interested both parents and kids are in coding, and how excited they become when they learn they can create media on their own--all by using code.” - Emily Zorea, Youth Services Librarian, Brewer Public Library

For libraries, by libraries

Librarians and staff know what works best for their communities, so we will rely on them to help us develop the toolkit. This summer a cohort of libraries will receive coding resources, like CS First, a free video-based coding club that doesn’t require CS knowledge, to help them facilitate CS programs. Then we’ll gather feedback from the cohort so that we can build a toolkit that is useful and informative for other libraries who want to be Ready to Code. The cohort will also  establish a community of schools and libraries who value coding, and will use their knowledge and expertise to help that community.

Critical thinking skills for the future

Though every student who studies code won’t become an engineer, critical thinking skills are essential in all career paths. That is why Libraries Ready to Code also emphasizes computational thinking, a basic set of problem-solving skills, in addition to code, that is at the heart of connecting the libraries’ mission of fostering critical thinking with computer science.

Many of our library educators, like Jason Gonzales, a technology specialist at the Muskogee Public Library, already have exemplary programs that combine computer science and computational thinking. His community is located about 50 miles outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, so the need for new programming was crucial, given that most youth are not able to travel to the city to pursue their interests. When students expressed an overwhelming interest in video game design, he knew what the focus of a new summer coding camp would be. Long-term, he hopes students will learn more digital literacy skills so they are comfortable interacting with technology, and applying it to other challenges now and in the future.

1
“Ready to Code means having the resources available so that if someone is interested in coding or wants to explore it further they are able to. Knowing where to point youth can allow them to begin enjoying and exploring coding on their own.”- Jason Gonzales, technology specialist, Muskogee Public Library

When the American Library Association and Google announced the Libraries Ready to Code initiative last year, it began as an effort to learn about CS activities, like the ones that Emily and Jason led. We then expanded to work with university faculty at Library and Information Science (LIS) schools to integrate CS content their tech and media courses. Our next challenge is scaling these successes to all our libraries, which is where our partnership with Google, and the development of a toolkit, becomes even more important. Keep an eye out in July for a call for libraries to participate in developing the toolkit. We hope it will empower any library, regardless of geography, expertise, or affluence to provide access to CS education and ultimately, skills that will make students successful in the future.

Libraries across the U.S. are Ready to Code

Editor’s Note: Alan Inouye leads public policy for the American Library Association, and today he tells us about a new partnership with Google that will equip librarians to offer coding programs for kids in their communities

Emily Zorea is not a computer scientist. She’s a Youth Services Librarian at the Brewer Public Library in Richland Center, Wisconsin, but when she noticed that local students were showing an interest in computer science (CS), she started a coding program at the library. Though she didn’t have a CS background, she understood that coding, collaboration and creativity were  critical skills for students to approach complex problems and improve the world around them. Because of Emily’s work, the Brewer Public Library is now Ready to Code. At the American Library Association, we want to give librarians like Emily the opportunity to teach these skills, which is why we are thrilled to partner with Google on thae next phase of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative—a $500,000 sponsorship from Google to develop a coding toolkit and make critical skills more accessible for students across 120,000 libraries in the U.S.

Libraries will receive funding, consulting expertise, and operational support from Google to pilot a CS education toolkit that equips any librarian with the ability to implement a CS education program for kids. The resources aren’t meant to transform librarians into expert programmers but will support them with the knowledge and skills to do what they do best: empower youth to learn, create, problem solve, and develop the confidence and future skills to succeed in their future careers.

ReadytoCode_ALA_1.jpg
“It always amazes me how interested both parents and kids are in coding, and how excited they become when they learn they can create media on their own--all by using code.” - Emily Zorea, Youth Services Librarian, Brewer Public Library

For libraries, by libraries

Librarians and staff know what works best for their communities, so we will rely on them to help us develop the toolkit. This summer a cohort of libraries will receive coding resources, like CS First, a free video-based coding club that doesn’t require CS knowledge, to help them facilitate CS programs. Then we’ll gather feedback from the cohort so that we can build a toolkit that is useful and informative for other libraries who want to be Ready to Code. The cohort will also  establish a community of schools and libraries who value coding, and will use their knowledge and expertise to help that community.

Critical thinking skills for the future

Though every student who studies code won’t become an engineer, critical thinking skills are essential in all career paths. That is why Libraries Ready to Code also emphasizes computational thinking, a basic set of problem-solving skills, in addition to code, that is at the heart of connecting the libraries’ mission of fostering critical thinking with computer science.

Many of our library educators, like Jason Gonzales, a technology specialist at the Muskogee Public Library, already have exemplary programs that combine computer science and computational thinking. His community is located about 50 miles outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, so the need for new programming was crucial, given that most youth are not able to travel to the city to pursue their interests. When students expressed an overwhelming interest in video game design, he knew what the focus of a new summer coding camp would be. Long-term, he hopes students will learn more digital literacy skills so they are comfortable interacting with technology, and applying it to other challenges now and in the future.

1
“Ready to Code means having the resources available so that if someone is interested in coding or wants to explore it further they are able to. Knowing where to point youth can allow them to begin enjoying and exploring coding on their own.”- Jason Gonzales, technology specialist, Muskogee Public Library

When the American Library Association and Google announced the Libraries Ready to Code initiative last year, it began as an effort to learn about CS activities, like the ones that Emily and Jason led. We then expanded to work with university faculty at Library and Information Science (LIS) schools to integrate CS content their tech and media courses. Our next challenge is scaling these successes to all our libraries, which is where our partnership with Google, and the development of a toolkit, becomes even more important. Keep an eye out in July for a call for libraries to participate in developing the toolkit. We hope it will empower any library, regardless of geography, expertise, or affluence to provide access to CS education and ultimately, skills that will make students successful in the future.

As G Suite gains traction in the enterprise, G Suite’s Gmail and consumer Gmail to more closely align

Google’s G Suite business is gaining enormous traction among enterprise users. G Suite usage has more than doubled in the past year among large business customers. Today, there are more than 3 million paying companies that use G Suite.   

G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service. Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free.

The value of Gmail is tremendous, both for G Suite users and for users of our free consumer Gmail service. Gmail is the world’s preeminent email provider with more than 1.2 billion users. No other email service protects its users from spam, hacking, and phishing as successfully as Gmail. By indicating possible email responses, Gmail features like Smart Reply make emailing easier, faster and more efficient. Gmail add-ons will enable features like payments and invoicing directly within Gmail, further revolutionizing what can be accomplished in email.

G Suite customers and free consumer Gmail users can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate. As ever, users can control the information they share with Google at myaccount.google.com.

Source: Google Cloud


As G Suite gains traction in the enterprise, G Suite’s Gmail and consumer Gmail to more closely align

Google’s G Suite business is gaining enormous traction among enterprise users. G Suite usage has more than doubled in the past year among large business customers. Today, there are more than 3 million paying companies that use G Suite.   

G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service. Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free.

The value of Gmail is tremendous, both for G Suite users and for users of our free consumer Gmail service. Gmail is the world’s preeminent email provider with more than 1.2 billion users. No other email service protects its users from spam, hacking, and phishing as successfully as Gmail. By indicating possible email responses, Gmail features like Smart Reply make emailing easier, faster and more efficient. Gmail add-ons will enable features like payments and invoicing directly within Gmail, further revolutionizing what can be accomplished in email.

G Suite customers and free consumer Gmail users can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate. As ever, users can control the information they share with Google at myaccount.google.com.

Source: Gmail Blog


Why should your app get SRE support? – CRE life lessons



Editor’s note: When you start to run many applications or services in your company, then you'll start to bump up against the limit of what your primary SRE (or Ops) team can support. In this installment of CRE Life Lessons we're going to look at how you can make good, principled and defensible decisions about which of your company’s applications and services you should give to your SREs to support, and how to decide when that subset needs to change.

In Google, we're fortunate to have Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) teams supporting both our horizontal infrastructure such as storage, networking and load balancing, and our major applications such as Search, Maps and Photos. Nevertheless, the combination of software engineering and system engineering skills required of the role make it hard to find and recruit SREs, and demand for them steadily outstrips supply.

Over time we’ve found some practical limits to the number of applications that an SRE team can support, and learned the characteristics of applications that are more trouble to support than others. If your company runs many production applications, your SRE team is unlikely to be able to support them all.

Q: How will I know when my company’s SRE team is at its limit? How do I choose the best subset of applications to support? When should the SRE team drop support for an application?

Good questions all; let’s explore them in more detail.

Practical limitations on SRE support


At Google, the rule of thumb for the minimum SRE team needed to staff a pager rotation without burn-out is six engineers; for a 24/7 pager rotation with a target response time under 30 minutes, we don’t want any engineer to be on-call for more than 12 continuous hours because we don’t want paging alerts interrupting their sleep. This implies two groups of six engineers each, with a wide geographic spread so that each team can handle pages mostly in their daytime.

At any one time, there's usually a designated primary who responds to pages, and a secondary who catches fall-through pages e.g., if the primary is temporarily out of contact, or is in the middle of managing an incident. The primary and secondary handle normal ops work, freeing the rest of the team for project work such as improving reliability, building better monitoring or increasing automation of ops tasks. Therefore every engineer has two weeks out of six focused on operational work -- one as primary, one as secondary.

Q: Surely 12 to 16 engineers can handle support for all the applications your development team can feasibly write?

Actually, no. Our experience is that there is a definite cognitive limit to how many different applications or services an SRE team can effectively manage; any single engineer needs to be sufficiently familiar with each app to troubleshoot, diagnose and resolve most production problems with each app. If you want to make it easy to support many apps at once, you’ll want to make them as similar as possible: design them to use common patterns and back-end services, standardize on common tools for operational tasks like rollout, monitoring and alerting, and deploy them on similar schedules. This reduces the per-app cognitive load, but doesn’t eliminate it.

If you do have enough SREs then you might consider making two teams (again, subject to the 2 x 6 minimum staffing limit) and give them separate responsibilities. At Google, it’s not unusual for a single SRE team to split into front-end and back-end shards, each taking responsibility for supporting only that half of the system, as it grows in size. (We call this team mitosis.)

Your SRE team’s maximum number of supported services will be strongly influenced by factors such as:

  • the regular operational tasks needed to keep the services running well, for example releases, bug fixes, non-urgent alerts/bugs. These can be reduced (but not eliminated) by automation;
  • “interrupts” -- unscheduled non-critical human requests. We’ve found these awkwardly resistant to efforts to reduce them; the most effective strategy has been self-service tools that address the 50-70% of repeated queries;
  • emergency alert response, incident management and follow-up. The best way to spend less time on these is to make the service more reliable, and to have better-tuned alerts (i.e., that are actionable and which, if they fire, strongly indicate real problems with the service).


Q: What about the four weeks out of six during which an SRE isn’t doing operational work  could we use that time to increase our SRE team’s supported service capacity?

You could do this but at Google we view this as “eating your seed corn.” The goal is to have the machines do all the things that are possible for machines to do, and for that to happen you need to leave breathing room for your SREs to do project work such as producing new automation for your service. In our experience, once a team crosses the 50% ops work threshold, it quickly descends a slippery slope to 100% ops. In that condition you’re losing the engineering effort that will give you medium-to-long term operational benefits such as reducing the frequency, duration and impact of future incidents. When you move your SRE team into nearly full-time ops work, you lose the benefit of its engineering design and development skills.

Note in particular that SRE engineering project work can reduce operational load by addressing many of the factors we described above, which were limiting how many services an SRE team could support.

Given the above, you may well find yourself in a position where you want your SRE team to onboard a new service but in practice they are not able to support it on on a sustainable basis.

You’re out of SRE support capacity - now what?

At Google our working principle is that any service that’s not explicitly supported by SRE must be supported by its developer team; if you have enough developers to write a new application then you probably have enough developers to support it. Our developers tend to use the same monitoring, rollout and incident management tools as the SREs they work with, so the operational support workload is similar. In any case, we like developers that wrote an application to directly support it for a little while so they can get a good feel for how customers are experiencing it. The things they learn doing so help SREs to onboard the service later.

Q: What about the next application we want the developers to write? Won’t they be too busy supporting the current application?

This may be true  the current application may be generating a high operational workload, due to excessive alerts, or a lack of automation. However, this gives the developer team a practical incentive to spend time making the application easier to support — tuning alerts, spending developer time on automation, and reducing the velocity of functional changes.

When developers are overloaded with operational work, SREs might be able to lend operational expertise and development effort to reduce the developers’ workloads to a manageable level. However, SREs still shouldn’t take on operational responsibility for the service, as this won’t solve the fundamental problem.

When one team develops an application and another team bears the brunt of the operational work for it, moral hazard thrives. Developers want high development velocity; it’s not in their interest to spend days running down and eliminating every odd bug that occasionally causes their server to run out of memory and need to be restarted. Meanwhile, the operational team is getting paged to do those restarts several times per day it’s very much in their interest to get that bug fixed since it’s their sleep that is being interrupted. Not surprisingly, when developers bear the operational load for their own system, they too are incented to spend time making it easier to support. This also turns out to be important for persuading an SRE team to support their application, as we shall see later.

Choosing which applications to support


The easiest way to prioritize the applications for SRE to support is by revenue or other business criticality, i.e., how important it will be if the service goes down. After all, having an SRE team supporting your service should improve its reliability and availability.

Q: Sounds good to me; surely prioritizing by business impact is always the right choice?

Not always. There are services which actually don’t need much support work; a good example is a simple infrastructure service (say, a distributed key-value store) that has reached maturity and is updated only infrequently. Since nothing is really changing in the service, it’s unlikely to break spontaneously. Even if it’s a critical dependency of several user-facing applications, it might not make sense to dedicate SRE support; rather, let its developers hold the pager and handle the low volume of operational work.

In Google we consider that SRE teams have seven areas of focus that developers typically don’t:

  • Monitoring and metrics. For example, detecting response latency, error or unanswered query rate, and peak utilization of resources
  • Emergency response. Running on-call rotations, traffic-dip detection, primary/secondary/escalation, writing playbooks, running Wheels of Misfortune
  • Capacity planning. Doing quarterly projections, handling a sudden sustained load spike, running utilization-improvement projects
  • Service turn-up and turn-down. For services which run in many locations (e.g., to reduce end-user latency), planning location turn-up/down schedules and automating the process to reduce risks and operational load
  • Change management. Canarying, 1% experiments, rolling upgrades, quick-fail rollbacks, and measuring error budgets
  • Performance. Stress and load testing, resource-usage efficiency monitoring and optimization.
  • Data Integrity. Ensuring that non-reconstructible data is stored resiliently and highly available for reads, including the ability to rapidly restore it from backups


With the possible exception of “emergency response” and “data integrity,” our key-value store wouldn’t benefit substantially from any of these areas of expertise, and the marginal benefit of having SREs rather than developers support it is low. On the other hand, the opportunity cost of spending SRE support capacity on it is high; there are likely to be other applications which could benefit from more of SREs’ expertise.

One other reason that SREs might take on responsibility for an infrastructure service that doesn’t need SRE expertise if it is a crucial dependency of services they already run. In that case, there could be a significant benefit to them of having visibility into, and control of, changes to that service.

In part 2 of this blog post, we’ll take a look at how our SRE team could determine how  and indeed, whether  to onboard a business-critical service once it has been identified as able to benefit from SRE support.