What's the Difference Between DevOps and SRE (DevOps vs. SRE)?
DevOps is a set of practices and a combination of cultural philosophies and tools that helps organizations deliver services and applications, like software, quickly and efficiently.
In other words, DevOps evolves and improves products at a higher velocity for organizations than traditional infrastructure management and software development processes. This speed helps companies serve their clients better and become more competitive.
On the other hand, SRE's (Site Reliability Engineering) main role is to implement the product that was developed by the main development team.
In fact, SRE is a software engineering approach to IT. SRE teams use it as a handy tool to solve problems, automate operation tasks, and manage systems. Hence, SRE can automate DevOps practices to improve an organization's scalability and reliability.
Plus, it is responsible for sending feedback back to the development team based on key performance metrics, like capacity, latency, incident, and availability, among others.
Main Differences Between DevOps and SRE
DevOps is about solving development problems and finding solutions that cater to business requirements. While SRE deals with operational problems, such as infrastructure issues (memory, disk), monitoring, and security. However, this isn't the only difference between them. For example:
Process Flow: DevOps teams have under their control the whole development environment to implement production changes from the development side. SRE teams have the perspective of production. They make suggestions to the development team to minimize failure despite the implemented changes of the DevOps teams.
New Features Implementation: DevOps's main purpose is to add new features to a product, where SRE is responsible for ensuring those changes don't increase failure rates during production. Think of the SRE team as a quality control team to understand it better.
Focus: DevOps focuses on the speed and continuity of product development, while SRE focuses on a system's availability, reliability, and scalability.
Team Structure: The typical DevOps team is made up of professionals with specific roles, like Cloud and Automation Architect, Software Developer, System Administrator, QA Engineer, Team Leader, Release Manager, etc.
SRE teams mostly consist of high-end engineers with development and operational experience.
What Are the Problems the DevOps Teams Solve?
Fast Product Delivery
A DevOps team can decrease a product's delivery time. In other words, DevOps teams are responsible for shorter release cycles.
This is because they have the expertise to roll back to a stable version of the software in case an update breaks it, which is quite cool!
This is contrary to traditional release cycles, where the development team focuses on delivering a complete product upon release.
And although this might seem like a good idea, it may not be since the risk of failure in production is higher. It is harder to roll back to a stable version this way.
The effects of a shorter release cycle are:
- Updates arrive more frequently.
- Easy to push bug fixes, version upgrades, and security patches into production.
Reduced Development and Maintenance Cost
A DevOps team works towards the CI/CD pipeline (the backbone of DevOps technology, where it brings IT operations and developers teams together to work on software) and invests in automated testing rather than manual testing. The result is, improved management of the released product by automating all procedures surrounding it.
This is in contrast to the traditional software development life cycle, where there is more toil on testing, development, and release. Therefore, using DevOps reduces development, delivery time, and maintenance costs.
Continuous and Automated Testing
Whereas in traditional development, testing teams need to wait for the delivery of the final product to begin testing it.
DevOps teams, though, begin testing the product from the beginning of development. This means that DevOps teams facilitate automated and continuous testing.
As such, having adequate coverage of interaction, functional, and non-functional tests in the pipelines improves testing automation.
What Are the Problems the SRE Teams Solve?
Automation is a challenge for SREs teams. The reason for this is that it is observed that supporting tasks and rollouts are carried out manually, something which leads to human errors and inconsistencies.
Using automation tools like Puppet, Ansible, and Chef can help to manage the infrastructure (IaC). SRE teams use such tools to solve issues with automation.
Reduced Mean Time to Detect (MTTD)
Another challenge for SRE teams is reducing MTTD using specific rollouts, known as Canary rollouts. This happens in order for the new releases to be available to a small user group before doing full rollouts.
Reduced Mean time to Recovery (MTTR)
SRE teams are responsible for keeping the production running. In case of a bug or other failure, SER teams can request a rollback to a previous stable version of the software to reduce MTTR.
Automated Functional Testing During Production
Whereas the main development team can automate both function and non-functional testing in the test and stage environments, reliability engineers can automate testing during production without affecting end-users.
Reliability engineers sometimes need to take on-call duties in order to manage unforeseeable incidents. At the same time, they might have to prepare troubleshooting guides and documentation of those incidents to help colleagues.
By building a knowledge base on incidents, SRE teams improve troubleshooting time by a long margin.
Sure, creating a knowledge base is always positive and helps reliability engineers to foresee and avoid problems during production. Yet, when the knowledge base is outdated, it’s a serious issue.
To avoid this, SRE teams collaborate with DevOps teams to update the base, filling the knowledge gap between them.
Even though DevOps and SRE share similar values, their main function and focus are different.
DevOps focuses on a software or application’s lifecycle. It uses an agile approach to building, testing, and monitoring the product for quality, speed, and control.
Regarding SRE, site reliability engineers use automation tools to solve problems and deal with IT tasks, ensuring websites are more scalable, and reliable. Occasionally, this accelerates software release and product delivery.
That said, both teams cooperate and connect, sharing similar responsibilities and working towards a common goal: To enhance the software release cycle and achieve greater product reliability.