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SRE vs. DevOps vs. Platform Engineering

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7.8.2024
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The age of information technology has rapidly expanded to include a wide range of necessary roles to manage and optimize operational frameworks. Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), Development Operations (DevOps), and Platform Engineers have become invaluable within this digital landscape.

  • SRE (Site reliability engineer): Promote software and application reliability
  • DevOps: collaborates the development and operations role and automates the software lifecycle
  • Platform engineers: Establish application management guidelines and processes

Here, you’ll learn more about each role, how they differ, and what they bring to the table.

Understanding SRE

As outlined above, an SRE manages systems by using software to automate operations and fix issues in production. SREs use code to handle large volumes (storage units and disks) created with software. Through their work, SREs make large systems more manageable for system administrators.

As software updates, includes new features and grants new permissions, SREs maintain reliability, quality, and control for those using it. Some of the major roles and key responsibilities of an SRE include:

  • Risk management
  • Automation
  • Coding
  • Capacity management
  • Incident response optimization

SREs use a range of tools and practices to manage these responsibilities. Some tools commonly used include:

One of the practices implemented by most SREs is the 50% rule. This rule delegates that work is divided between coding and troubleshooting on the SRE platform 50% of the time and automating processes for new features and other tasks leaning forward engineering projects.

Understanding Platform Engineering

The platform engineering role focuses on software application delivery to improve the overall value of a business. In short, a platform engineer is a developer support role, automating self-serve functions to improve productivity and get products out faster. They are a middle-man between developers and operators, creating tools and processes that are reusable and simple to understand.

Platform engineering involves the creation of a development platform. Like the SRE platform, this is an internal platform used to make the DevOps job easier. Some of the other responsibilities and goals of the platform engineers include:

  • Standardization of repetitive tasks through automation
  • Establishing guidelines for processes and best practices
  • Designing, implementing, and regulating development platform
  • Configuration administration
  • Communication with DevOps, users, and shareholders
  • Report creation and delivery

To carry out these responsibilities, platform engineers use tools such as:

Every company is different, which means the role of the platform engineer changes depending on the software used and the team deploying it.

Understanding DevOps

 The unifying DevOps (development operations) team merges engineering work throughout the entirety of the software lifecycle. This team oversees the software from the development stage to the testing stage to the deployment of the product, and beyond into software use and updates.

Many of the tasks DevOps undertakes include the use of automation. This speeds up otherwise long and slow tasks into quick, but still highly functional practices. Through these automated applications, DevOps can more easily manage the bulk of work within the software lifestyle without help from other departments.

The key responsibilities of the DevOps team include:

  • Monitoring
  • Process automation
  • Open source contribution
  • Reviewing metrics like failure rates, bug report frequency, and remediation times
  • Continuous integration
  • Continuous delivery

To perform these tasks efficiently, DevOps uses tools such as:

Each of these tools helps DevOps teams track applications and manage growing infrastructure without a hitch.

DevOps vs SRE vs Platform Engineering

DevOps, SREs, and platform engineers bring value to IT-related jobs, supporting multiple departments and each other. While all three roles are important to the ongoing evolution of IT, they have individual strengths.

SREs: An SRE automates infrastructure through software to optimize system management and other important tasks. The SRE platform involves jobs that keep software applications running smoothly during updates, focusing on the reliability and scalability of the software they manage.

DevOps: As the name suggests, DevOps removes the distance between a development and operations team, combining them into a unit that works throughout the software life cycle. DevOps manages everything from developing software to testing it to deploying.

Platform Engineers: A platform engineer works closely with the DevOps team, focusing on compliance, security, and other important factors governing the IT framework. They strive to streamline the infrastructure to make it easier for DevOps to do its job.

Each role supports the next but brings unique value to the companies they work for.

SREs bring value to an organization by streamlining operations through the creation of scalable systems. DevOps helps deliver a more secure product quickly and efficiently, so updates and new software releases go smoothly. Finally, platform engineers scale the delivery of the software to give users high-quality products in a shorter time through automation and resource management.

SRE vs Platform Engineering

Some companies use the term SRE and platform engineer interchangeably, but there are subtle differences that set these roles apart. Platform engineers deal with the software delivery processes while SREs deal with IT system reliability. They both deal with software delivery, but where SREs work on the application itself, platform engineers keep delivery running smoothly.

Both SREs and platform engineers use configuration and communication tools. SREs also use monitoring and incident response tools, where platform engineers use developer portals and EaaS (Environments as a Service) tools. Read more about specific tools in the description of individual roles above.

SRE vs DevOps

Like the similarities with platform engineering, SREs also share some similarities with the DevOps team. Both use automation to streamline the workflow. SREs use automation to improve system health while DevOps uses it to optimize production.

Along with their similarities are the unique elements that set these roles apart. DevOps is all about instilling speed and efficiency into the software lifecycle. SREs are more about standardizing performance and protocols to create stable products.

While both SREs and DevOps use IaC and automation tools, SREs use a lot of tools unique to their role, such as monitoring and configuration. DevOps teams use tools focusing on configuration management, version control, and containers. Examples are found above in the SRE and DevOps tool sections.

The Relationship Between SRE, DevOps, and Platform Engineering

The SRE, DevOps and platform engineering roles work separately and yet in tandem. Each is essential to the ongoing development and delivery of software. Where SREs ensure system reliability, platform engineers craft the SRE platform needed to perform such jobs. Meanwhile, DevOps oversees software throughout its many stages of development, testing, and deployment.

Together, these roles ensure a smooth transition from one stage to the next, offering high-quality software and the required processes and platforms to test and deploy it. For example:

  • When developing a platform for developers, SREs define the SLOs (service level objectives) for things like monitoring and reporting. DevOps and platform engineers collaborate to create self-service options. The platform engineers work closely with SREs and DevOps at this time to develop a service catalog for these self-serve functions.

By working together, each role lends a hand to design, create, or maintain the platform and its processes.

Conclusion

DevOps, SREs, and platform engineers each play an integral role in the ongoing evolution of the IT world. As software becomes more important to businesses worldwide, these roles may continue to grow and expand into new roles.

While similar, it’s important to understand that each role is unique, and how it works in the software development and delivery model. If you are part of an SRE team, DevOps and platform engineers are invaluable resources to your work. Open communication with these departments will strengthen your team, and in turn, theirs, to better the products you work on.

Interested in learning more ways to streamline your job as an SRE and simplify the incident management process? Blameless can help. Book a demo or free trial today.

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