DevOps and site reliability engineering (SRE) are practices that work together to help development teams build , implement, and optimize products. Together they help people work toward a common goal by managing different development processes. Owning different parts of the process means there are differences in the way they operate, provide support, and utilize tools.
DevOps vs site reliability engineering
DevOps, short for developer operations, is a set of tools and practices that integrate the processes between software development (Dev) and IT operations teams (Ops). DevOps incorporates continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment (CI/CD) to help developers and IT teams efficiently and effectively build, test, and provide feedback on software.
Site reliability engineering (SRE) is the practice of applying a software engineering approach to IT operations. SRE involves the use of software tools to automate IT operations that are normally performed by system administrators to solve technical issues. Once an application is available to end-users, SRE manages service level agreements, service level objectives, and service level indicators via production management, change management, monitoring, and security.
What’s the difference?
Development vs. implementation
DevOps engineers are responsible for building solutions that facilitate collaboration, automation, continuous integration, testing, delivery, and monitoring. Conversely, site reliability engineers deal with issues that arise after those solutions are deployed by automating operations, identifying risk, and monitoring performance. In other words, DevOps builds software and SRE keeps it running smoothly.
DevOps teams write code, and test, deploy, and monitor applications, while SRE teams evaluate problems, analyze task management, and find innovative solutions to recurring problems.
DevOps and SRE use automation to manage their respective workflows. DevOps automates deployment and SRE automates manual tasks.
DevOps tools provide support for CI/CD, integrated development environments, and security testing. SRE tools, on the other hand, focus on monitoring and incident reporting.
What do SRE and DevOps have in common?
DevOps and SRE have a lot in common since they share the same goal: connect development and operations teams to build and optimize reliable software systems.
Both methods commonly use the same tools for planning, configuration management, version management, and log monitoring. Together, they complement each other's functions—SRE provides solutions to DevOps issues.
SRE and DevOps teams operate in collaboration on incident resolution, configuration management, and capacity planning. Each team’s perspective and expertise are crucial for meeting business needs and together they can provide stakeholders with end-to-end project status updates.
What does SRE provide businesses?
Site reliability engineering enhances the core development tasks handled by DevOps by providing solutions for:
- Reduced mean time to recovery (MTTR)
To keep production flowing, SRE teams address bugs and other issues with a focus on achieving a shorter MTTR.
- Reduced mean time to detect (MTTD)
SRE teams aim to reduce the MTTD by first making new releases available to a limited number of users before the full rollout occurs. This helps ensure that issues are caught earlier and only affect a small group of users.
Manually rolling out tasks often leads to inconsistencies and errors. SRE teams get in front of these issues by using automation tools to manage infrastructure. This includes launching automation in the test and stage environments so it doesn’t affect the final outcome.
- Improve incident troubleshooting time
Site reliability engineers prepare documentation and troubleshooting for unforeseen incidents to help others take on the on-call duties. By building up a knowledge database on incidents, they manage response time and optimize processes.
Which tools are used by both SRE and DevOps?
Since SRE and DevOps could be viewed as two sides of the same coin, it makes sense that they share common tools. These include:
- Planning: Software for tracking issues, bugs, and agile project management
- Configuration management: Tools that help identify, document, and track changes
- Version management: Software that allows teams to work together on code, track changes, and roll back to previous versions
- Log monitoring: Tools used to collect, search, analyze, and track data in real time to monitor system health
SRE and DevOps are two different approaches to developing software that optimize workflow, automate processes, and integrate tools to build a reliable product. DevOps focuses on development and deployment, while SRE manages quality by reducing problems.
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Is SRE replacing DevOps?
No. DevOps and SRE are two different methods for accomplishing the same goals. They coexist as different functions in the software development process for bringing code into production. Since they work in a complementary way, SRE cannot replace DevOps.
Is DevOps becoming obsolete?
No, however it is evolving and growing. As DevOps continues to mature as a practice, DevOps teams will need to prioritize keeping operational silos at bay and maintain the focus on efficient cross-functional collaboration.
Is agile required for DevOps?
Agile is important for DevOps to address the gap between the client and the development team. Its methodology can be used in the development process by speeding up the delivery of software and increasing collaboration between teams.
Does SRE include security?
SRE operates similarly to security by identifying potential and active issues, however, it’s organized as a separate practice. Security teams might adopt SRE methods to streamline processes and improve best practices.
Which came first: DevOps or SRE?
Site reliability engineering came first. It was introduced in 2003 at Google, before spreading more broadly in the field as a set of best practices. Years later, the DevOps movement began to rise in popularity as a means of addressing the challenges that emerged from siloed teams. As a method, it promoted collaboration between developers and IT operations. Today, we often think of DevOps as an overarching approach which includes SRE practices.
Does SRE support engineers?
SRE does much more than support DevOps; it’s considered its own practice and system. Site reliability engineers are responsible for keeping software systems running smoothly and mitigating problems before they have the chance to occur.