SRE vs DevOps? What makes Them Unique?

Jan 8, 2022
3 min read

Software is unquestionably eating the world. As our reliance on technology grows, disciplines have emerged to ensure that improvements are implemented efficiently and that our systems are available when needed. Over the last few years, DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) philosophies and practices have increasingly hit the mainstream.
To understand the distinction between DevOps and SREs. Let us first understand what this term implies individually. Only then will we be able to tell the difference.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a collection of processes, culture, and job roles, similar to SRE. The DevOps attitude is that if you produce software, you also own it. Removing this distinction makes it easier to ensure that software maintains a high level of quality from development to release and travels with speed and agility through the DevOps pipeline.

Following are the goals of DevOps :

  • Increased frequency of deployment
  • To shorten the time to market
  • Reduced failure rate for new releases
  • Short turnaround time between fixes
  • Increase the meantime to recovery.

What is Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)?

Google coined the term, and it is often regarded as a slightly advanced version of DevOps.

Your goal as a Site Reliability Engineer is to align two distinct, and sometimes contradictory, initiatives: to have code built and released quickly, while also ensuring that the code is extremely dependable.

In other words, the SRE is concerned with opposing endeavours such as -

  • Stability and agility
  • Quality and speed
  • Proactivity and reactivity
  • Pre-production and post-production
  • Innovation and operation.

SREs accomplish this by devoting equal time to development and operations. Non-functional, operational needs such as performance, security, availability, and maintainability must be satisfied in product design and development.

They must also consider automation on a regular basis in order to optimize the software development pipeline.

SRE vs DevOps? Is there any difference?

Now that you understand what DevOps and SREs are all about. Let's see if there is a meaningful distinction between the two.

SRE and DevOps appear to be two sides of the same coin. SRE and DevOps both seek to narrow the gap between development and operations teams, with the same objective of decreasing the release cycle while retaining quality.

However, if you consider DevOps to be the fundamental idea, SRE may be considered the prescriptive technique of implementing that philosophy - at least, that's how Google defines it. It is further explored below using DevOps ideas.

1. Reducing Organisational Silos

DevOps aims to make sure that different departments/software teams are not isolated from one another and that they are all working toward the same objective.

SRE facilitates this by requiring teams to take responsibility for projects. Every SRE team uses the same tools, methodologies, and codebase to support:

  • Uniformity
  • Seamless collaboration

2. Implementing Gradual Change

DevOps values modest, incremental change in order to achieve continuous improvement, while SRE makes this possible by allowing teams to do short, frequent updates that reduce the impact of changes on application availability and stability.

To ensure the proper deployment of code changes, SRE teams also use CI/CD technologies for change management and continuous testing.

3. Accepting Failure As Normal

Both SRE and DevOps view errors and failure as unavoidable occurrences. While DevOps attempts to handle runtime errors and allow teams to learn from them, SRE uses Service Level Commitments (SLx) to assure that all failures are handled.

SRE also allows for a risk budget, which allows teams to push the boundaries of failure in order to reevaluate and innovate.

4. Leveraging Tools and Automation

Automation is used by both DevOps and SRE to improve processes and service delivery. Through flexible application programming interfaces, SRE allows teams to use the same tools and services (APIs). While DevOps encourages the use of automation tools, SRE guarantees that all team members have access to the most up-to-date automation tools and technologies.

5. Measure Everything

Because both DevOps and SRE support automation, you'll need to test the developed systems on a regular basis to guarantee that everything functions as it should.

DevOps collects metrics via a feedback loop. SRE, on the other hand, enforces measurement by supplying SLIs, SLOs, and SLAs for measurement. SRE monitors labour and reliability to assure constant service delivery because Ops is software-defined.

Conclusion

They use identical tooling and development techniques. The primary distinction is that SREs have a strong and purposeful emphasis on keeping a site operational; everything that does not directly contribute to that aim in a measurable way is eliminated from their priority.

Over the years, half of all firms that have already benefited from DevOps have already adopted SRE for increased reliability. One reason for this is that SRE principles offer improved observability and control of dynamic, automation-reliant applications.

Some companies, on the other hand, have bigger DevOps teams with an SRE team functioning alongside or as a part of the team.

Finally, the purpose of both techniques is to improve the end-to-end cycle of an IT ecosystem—the application lifecycle via DevOps and the operations lifecycle via SRE.