SRE Vs. DevOps

SRE Vs. DevOps

Over the years, the spectrum of software development has witnessed a drastic change, with new and more advanced technologies making the process more rapid, accurate, manageable, and consistent. DevOps and Software Reliability Engineering (SRE) are two such technologies designed to address organizations’ need for software operations management. These two similar yet distinct technologies have been coexisting, facilitating the development of reliable software and features. 

However, SRE And DevOps have often been considered two competing methodologies that are vastly different from one another. Though the differences cannot be denied, it is essential to understand that SRE and DevOps often complement each other and work efficiently side by side, breaking down organizational barriers to deliver enterprise-grade software faster.

Therefore, in this article, we will explain the differences and similarities between SRE and DevOps. Moreover, we will unravel how the two overlap and facilitate the development of reliable software. 

What is DevOps?

One of the leading software engineering cultures and practices, DevOps, first coined by Patrick Debois, Belgian IT consultant and Agile practitioner in 2009, emphasizes collaboration between teams, such as development, operation, and QA team. It is an agile practice that encourages communication and collaboration through the entire development lifecycle and automates infrastructure and workflow to continuously measure application performance. 

The primary focus of this approach is to enable continuous development and delivery, with a frequent release rate and an automated approach to application development. By adopting the DevOps culture, organizations can achieve:

  • Continuous application development, testing, and delivery. 
  • Shorter and faster release cycles. 
  • Reduced cost and efforts. 
  • Reduced friction among the workforce. 
  • Reduce time-to-market. 
  • Make rapid changes without affecting the performance of the entire application. 

Advantages of DevOps:

  • It helps bridge the divides between disciplines and teams.
  • Process optimization and constant re-engineering. 
  • Increased effectiveness and productivity. 
  • Improves resiliency in the event of failure.
  • Faster resolutions to problems. 
  • Helps build more stable operating environments. 
  • Offers teams more time to innovate.
  • Frequent code releases.

Disadvantages of DevOps:

  • It requires a cultural change within an organization. 
  • Generally accepts failures.
  • Does not have detailed steps on how to ensure success.
  • Requires software engineering expertise. 

For a comprehensive discussion on DevOps, check out the complete guide here

What is Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)?

A unique, software-first approach to IT operation, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) is a discipline that combines the aspects of software engineering and applies them to manage systems and infrastructure, solve problems and automate operations tasks. Introduced in the early 2000s at Google by Ben Treynor Sloss, Google’s VP of engineering, SRE's main objective is to create scalable and highly reliable software systems through deeper collaboration and proactive optimization of redundancies and monitoring and alerting practices.

It is a valuable practice that helps manage large systems through code and find a balance between releasing new features and ensuring their reliability. Like DevOps, SRE structure helps teams alleviate siloing, existing between the developers and IT professions to reduce the stress put on the operations team. 

In short, SRE is not a replacement for DevOps but an extension that helps make the former better. Moreover, like DevOps, SRE also relies on automating routine operational tasks and standardization across the software lifecycle.

The principles that are the foundation of Site Reliability Engineering are:

  • Embraces risks. 
  • Eliminates toil. 
  • Simplicity and automation.
  • Monitoring Distributed Systems
  • Release Engineering
  • Service level objectives.

Advantages of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE):

  • Inherently encourages DevOps culture to bridge the gap between developers and operations.
  • Creates efficient observability into system health. 
  • Uses automation, machine learning, and a deep understanding of systems' operations to move teams into a modern network operations center (NOC).
  • Offers enhanced metrics reporting. 
  • Encourages holistic awareness which helps increase the value of work.
  • Modernizes and automates operations. 
  • It is well suited for organizations that want to manage large-scale applications.
  • It helps identify flaws and issues quickly and efficiently.

Disadvantages of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE):

  • Requires high coding and system engineering skills.
  • As it is still new to the spectrum, it has limited industrial information on how to build and manage the SRE team. 
  • Needs strong management support.

How SRE Satisfies DevOps Pillars?

As stated earlier, SRE makes DevOps better. 

But, how is it made possible?

DevOps has five key pillars of success that together help organizations improve results and achieve consistent growth. SRE plays a critical role by satisfying these pillars through various methods to further make software development faster and more reliable while promoting collaboration between the teams involved in the process.  These pillars are:

  • Reduce Organizations Silos: To ensure this, SRE shares ownership with developers, creating shared responsibilities and using tools that were used by developers.  
  • Accept Failure as Normal: In SRE risks and failures are embraced and quantified in a perceptive manner, with the help of Service Level Indicators (SLIs) and Services Lever Objectives (SLOs). It involves blameless assessment to ensure there aren't any errors or failures in the system. 
  • Implement Gradual Change: Guided by its goal to reduce the cost of failures, SRE encourages developers and product owners to move and implement small changes quickly, at frequent intervals. This helps the team to measure the changes efficiently and adopt corrective measures in case of possible failure. 
  • Leverage Tooling & Automation: Like DevOps, SRE also uses automation to provide value to developers and operations by removing manual tasks.
  • Measure Everything: SRE defines prescriptive ways to measure values and believes that systems operation is a software problem.

Difference between Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and DevOps:

While Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and DevOps share core principles and concepts there are still certain differences between them, which are highlighted in the following table:

Parameter SRE DevOps

Set of practices and metrics that combines aspects of software engineering and operations to operate mission-critical systems. 

Set of practices and a culture designed to bridge the gap between the development and operations team through collaboration. 

Focus How can something be done?

What can be done?


Deals with the post-failure situation to ensure maximum uptime and identify failures for long-term reliability.

Deals with the pre-failure situation to ensure issues in the system do not lead to system crashes or downtime.


System availability and reliability. 

Continuous and rapid product development and delivery.


Measures service level indicators (SLI) and service level objectives (SLC).

Measures failure and success rate over time. 

Tools & Automation

Focused on using consistent technologies and information access.

Encourages automation and technology adoption.


Expects small changes at frequent intervals.

Changes are implemented gradually.

Now that we understand the difference between SRE and DevOps, we must also comprehend that these two software engineering technologies often work together to create a reliable and secure software product. Hence, finding the better technology is impossible, as the two constantly overlap each other.


The increasing demands for software convenience and reliability have spurred organizations to adopt leaner and more efficient software development and maintenance practices like SRE and DevOps. Two highly critical methodologies, SRE and DevOps, are working closely to bridge the gap between the teams involved in software development. Though different in their processes and objectives, SRE and DevOps share core principles that enable teams to proactively build reliable services, which further leads to greater operational efficiency, business value, and overall happiness for everyone involved.