A Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) is a person that operates an application by writing software. They are an engineer, a developer, who knows how to develop software specifically for a particular application domain. The resulting piece of software has an application's operational domain knowledge programmed into it.
Our team has been busy in the Kubernetes community designing and implementing this concept to reliably create, configure, and manage complex application instances atop Kubernetes.
We call this new class of software Operators. An Operator is an application-specific controller that extends the Kubernetes API to create, configure, and manage instances of complex stateful applications on behalf of a Kubernetes user. It builds upon the basic Kubernetes resource and controller concepts but includes domain or application-specific knowledge to automate common tasks.
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RedHat sponsors the free, online publication of the Kubernetes Operators O'Reilly book (155pp).