DevOps or SRE? What’s the Difference?
Reading time 7 minutes
Software teams are under pressure to deliver high-quality applications quickly and affordably. Of course, this is no easy task, especially when considering that software and networks are becoming exceedingly complex and distributed.
To improve the development process, a growing number of teams are implementing DevOps and site reliability engineering frameworks. DevOps, coupled with SRE, can enhance the production cycle and improve collaboration. These strategies help software teams operate with greater visibility and efficiency, ultimately enabling them to create stronger solutions.
That said, there are some important differences between DevOps vs SRE. Let’s take a closer look at how each of them works and how they complement one another.
What Is DevOps?
DevOps is a popular software engineering methodology that brings development and operations together into a single unit. Essentially, it’s a set of agile practices and tools that engineering teams use to automate workflows and expedite production cycles.
DevOps is a big change from traditional software development, which tends to have significant silos. In a DevOps model, engineers cover a much wider range of tasks, including planning, development, testing, and operations, among other things.
What Are DevOps Teams Responsible For?
DevOps is more than just a workflow adjustment. It also requires making a cultural shift and prioritizing communication and collaboration.
In a typical DevOps environment, team members tend to wear multiple hats and contribute to various areas of production. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the central processes that DevOps teams focus their attention on.
For many companies, DevOps is merging with security to create a strategy called DevSecOps, which involves testing for security vulnerabilities throughout the production process instead of waiting until the very end. This prevents vulnerabilities from winding up in production and lowers the cost of testing.
It also helps DevOps engineers pay more attention to security during the development process, which reduces the likelihood vulnerabilities make it into production.
Continuous testing involves automating performance tests and running them throughout the software delivery pipeline. DevOps teams often use tools like Jenkins, Travis, and Selenium to handle continuous testing.
Continuous integration involves running code changes to a central repository for automated tests and builds. DevOps engineers typically deploy continuous integration to identify and mitigate bugs and vulnerabilities as soon as they’re observed. Through continuous integration, you can catch errors during production and ship better software with each release.
Continuous delivery also involves pushing code into a testing environment. This step of DevOps expands testing capabilities and helps developers catch and remediate errors.
Continuous deployment goes a step beyond continuous delivery. This strategy enables code to automatically flow into production after testing without manual approval. In this light, continuous deployment can also help expedite software releases.
Continuous monitoring comes into play once an application moves into production. DevOps teams continue monitoring the application for performance and collect feedback to influence ongoing updates.
What Is SRE?
SRE is a strategy that uses the principles of engineering and computer science to design and create computing systems. This work is administered by site reliability engineers who are usually programmers with operational knowledge and are good at simplifying complexity.
Specific SRE workflows and responsibilities tend to vary across different teams and environments. However, the main purpose of SRE is to combine traditional IT and software engineering. In short, SRE helps engineering and operations teams create reliable software systems and deliver them at enterprise scale.
The 7 Principles of SRE
Just like DevOps, SRE focuses heavily on automation and culture. Additionally, site reliability engineers work to build relationships and enhance production processes.
Google outlines the following SRE principles in its benchmark SRE book.
1. Embracing Risk
As Google explains, increasing reliability can negatively impact a service. This is because extreme reliability limits the speed at which you can develop new services. And users can’t always tell the difference between high and extreme reliability in a service. As such, SRE teams attempt to balance the risk of unavailability with efficient service operations and fast innovation.
2. Service-Level Objectives
In order to measure an application’s performance, you have to understand what metrics really matter. SRE defines service-level indicators, objectives, and agreements to determine the most important values to an operation.
3. Eliminating Toil
SRE also works to identify and eliminate toil or work that’s manual, automatable, and repetitive. By eliminating toil, SRE expedites production, improves workflows, and reduces operational costs. It also makes production more enjoyable for workers—something that’s critical in a time when tech workers are coming and going rapidly.
4. Monitoring Distributed Systems
Companies with large, distributed IT environments are increasingly relying on SRE to monitor and address infrastructure risks. As such, SRE works to maximize uptime and reduce complexities.
Automation is a core part of agile development, and SRE plays an important enabling role in making it all happen. SRE identifies automation opportunities across multiple domains and forms automation strategies. It also often spearheads workflow automation for DevOps.
6. Release Engineering
In order to have a successful software release, you need to have the right supporting systems and processes in place. SRE orchestrates IT components to maximize output and minimize system disruptions.
Too much complexity makes it difficult to scale. It also exposes an organization to risk by making it harder to identify vulnerabilities. SRE focuses on reducing complexity to maintain operational stability and efficiency.
DevOps vs SRE: Does It Matter?
In truth, it isn’t a question of DevOps versus SRE. These two frameworks complement each other and work to achieve stronger automation and operational efficiency.
Smaller organizations and companies with manageable IT footprints tend to use DevOps models to deliver software quickly and enhance collaboration.
On the other hand, larger enterprises with distributed environments tend to use SRE more to manage operations and reduce downtime. SRE can help enhance capacity and disaster planning, and it provides a stable and predictable environment.
In light of this, it’s a good idea to analyze your environment and determine which strategy is right for you. It largely depends on the size and scope of your operation and your available resources. Some organizations may benefit from DevOps, while others may need to go above and beyond and bring in SRE to provide greater automation and stability.
Unlock the Value of DevOps and SRE With TEM!
DevOps and SRE both rely heavily on CI/CD testing to drive improvements and minimize the impact of change during production. Yet DevOps engineers and site reliability engineers often struggle with a lack of visibility across their test environments, which makes their job that much more difficult.
Many organizations are still using manual spreadsheet and file-sharing tracking solutions, which are risky and inefficient. Without real-time visibility into what’s happening, teams are more likely to allow errors to escape into production. A lack of visibility also leads to wasted time, interruptions, and higher operating costs—not to mention unhappy customers.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Plutora’s purpose-built test environment manager can provide deep visibility across your entire test environment through a single dashboard. TEM can also serve as a single repository for your test environment and as a single interaction point for stakeholders. With a central platform in place, you can also eliminate conflicts and improve cross-team collaboration.
Take Advantage of Plutora’s New Solution Bundles
If your business is serious about maximizing DevOps and SRE, it pays to improve and automate your testing processes.
Plutora is now offering new Test Environment QuickStart bundles, which simplify the approach to DevOps and SRE while providing an immediate return on investment. The bundles feature aggressive pricing, standardized reports, and fast implementations.
Ready to see Plutora in action? Request a free demo today.