SRE and DevOps - A POV on their similarities and differences | HCLTech

SRE and DevOps - A POV on their similarities and differences

SRE and DevOps - A POV on their similarities and differences
September 22, 2022

Site reliability engineering (SRE) and DevOps are the most discussed topics in the market. These are also one of the most sought-after skills today. This blog focuses on answering a fundamental but burning question on the differences and similarities between site reliability engineering and DevOps. 

To help you understand the context, we recommend you read the previous blog, What is SRE and how it’s different than normal IT Ops. You will find many places where the differences between SRE and DevOps are explained, but unfortunately, most of those explanations will tend to confuse more than clarify. 

Let us first understand the differences.

  • While the objective of the site reliability engineer is to make the services more reliable and run these services efficiently and continuously, the DevOps engineer primarily works towards building and delivering these services, products/platforms/applications, and ensuring scalability through the complete product development lifecycle.
  • The DevOps engineers and architects involve SREs during the design and build phase for better planning concerning the performance and availability of the services.
  • DevOps increases the speed of delivering services at a rapid pace and creating new features faster. Shorter time-to-market is one of the key performance metrics for DevOps teams. 
  • SRE gives more value to the stability and reliability of the services, even though that may decrease the speed of delivering new features/benefits. This ensures that users will ultimately have a smoother experience which is the key focus area for SREs.

Therefore, the SRE and DevOps teams work together with a distinctive focus, so striking the right balance between stability and change becomes extremely important. That balance is the combined goal of SREs and DevOps. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, and we agree with this point of view.

DevOps and SRE, are they in competition?

Whenever the difference between DevOps and SRE is explained, the job role and conceptual meaning get intermixed and confused. As we have described the difference between the job roles, let’s take a step back and understand the conceptual difference between DevOps and SRE.

DevOps is a set of principles and practices that smoothen and automate the processes between different software development and IT teams. This helps build, test, and release software and services faster. It emphasizes better collaboration between the various teams and eliminates silos, one of the significant issues at an earlier stage concerning DevOps. 

Then comes the concept of SRE, which focuses on bringing reliability to every aspect of the scope of the service. DevOps principles reduce organizational silos, measure accurately, accept failure, as usual, implement gradual changes, and leverage tooling and automation. SREs practically implement these DevOps principles; therefore, Google defines SREs as ‘Class SRE implements DevOps.’ This is a conceptual definition. Regarding the role of DevOps engineers, they exist separately compared to site reliability engineers, which we have defined in the first section of the article. At the same time, these topics are much closer and interconnected as a concept. 

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