Devops Vs Sre: What Are The Differences?

If you are part of the IT world, there is no doubt that by now you’ve already come across the terms DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). But what exactly do they mean and why are they such a big deal? This is a question that, surprisingly, even skilled software engineers are still unable to answer. This is in large part because the two concepts seem to imply the same thing, yet at the same time appear to overlap. This begs the question — is there any difference between DevOps and SREs? If so, where do we cross the line? Below we analyze the two concepts and their differences to help you get answers to these questions. 

What is DevOps?

To understand the difference between DevOps and SRE, you must first understand why the two concepts were developed. In respect to that, note that in the past, developers would code with little to no knowledge of how the code would run once implemented in production. They would then send it to the operations team which would have no option but to try and use the code thrown at it to keep the applications running.

This often caused a lot of friction among the developers and operations teams. This is where DevOps came in. It was developed as a concept that would help bridge the gap between development and software operations. 

Thanks to DevOps, developers got more insight into the operation teams’ end of the spectrum and vice versa. This promoted cohesion among the two sides as developers could not write code that is compatible with the production process. 

What Is SRE?

Site Reliability Engineering, on the other hand, refers to a discipline that incorporates the various principles of software engineering to enhance an organizational computation system’s scalability and stability. The concept was created in 2003 as a way for Google to improve the way it handled its production. The main goal behind SRE was to enhance the quality of code and improve automation and consequently, create highly reliable software systems.  

Differences between DevOps and SRE

Below are some of the differences between the two.


  • SRE is More Operational

As mentioned, the primary goal behind SRE is to improve the quality of code and drive automation to enable developers to create more scalable software systems. This means that a reliability engineer identifies problems and solves them single handedly. 

DevOps, on the other hand, is more about closing the gap between development and operation teams. In other words, when a professional in DevOps identifies problems, he/she must dispatch them to the development team for solutions. In a nutshell, DevOps dwells on the “What” while SRE seeks to address the “How”. 


  • DevOps is All about Teamwork 

The main reason why DevOps was developed was to bridge the gap between development and operations teams. This was achieved by culturally aligning the objectives between the two teams. Therefore, DevOps is all about teamwork. SRE, on the other hand, is more about creating and maintaining highly scalable and reliable systems. Consequently, it’s a role that can be assigned to one software professional as Google did in 2003.

Although the two concepts have some significant differences, they both share the same goals. That is, they both seek to minimize organizational silos, create an environment where failure is both acceptable and expected and to maximize automation. This means it’s possible to implement both DevOps and reliability engineering in the same organization.

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