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Rethinking DevOps

DevOps vs Software Engineer: What's the Difference?

Learn the fundamental differences between a Software Engineer and a DevOps Engineer with respect to the transition from the older IT industry into the current DevOps industry.

Software Engineers rule the IT planet. But during this era of DevOps, DevOps Engineers have also quickly emerged as the backbone of the IT industry.

Some of these DevOps Engineers are here in the industry with a fresh start while others have evolved from being Software Engineers themselves.

The roles and responsibilities of DevOps and Software Development overlaps in many areas, so it is easier to get confused between the two.

I'll explain the difference between DevOps and Software Engineer. Before you look into these roles with an industrial point of view, it is essential to learn these areas of expertise individually.

What does a DevOps do?

Let me quickly summarize the role of a DevOps.

DevOps is a continuous simplification process of maintaining a delicate balance among functionality, usability and security of a software both in terms of its Development and Operations.

This simplification process that we speak of includes the continuous ensurement of both speed and efficiency. Interested in learning more on it. Have a look at this article on DevOps concept series.

Rethinking DevOps: What is it all About?
A new model you can adopt that simplifies how those DevOps tools we talk about can be made and managed by the DevOps community.

What does a Software Engineer do?

You probably already know that.

Software Engineering is the application of diverse engineering approaches towards the development of software.

Look at the diagram above. Here, ADLC (Application Development Life Cycle) is the software engineering principle. It is actually an engineering approach applied in software development.

So, how can you differentiate between the two? Software Engineering is basically applied in DevOps. Therefore, we can say that Software Engineering in itself is a subset of the entire DevOps system.

Let's look at this comparison in terms of work roles.

One is that of a Software Engineer and the other is a DevOps Engineer.

On a DevOps perspective, it is apparent that a Software Engineer would be concerned primarily around the Application Development Life Cycle (ADLC) because the development of the software spans around that domain alone.

Difference between a DevOps Engineer and a Software Engineer

Note that a DevOps Engineer can also be a Software Engineer. But a Software Engineer cannot necessarily be a DevOps Engineer in the same manner.

The reason behind the above statement is that a DevOps Engineer can not only be involved with software development but also about how the software performs once it is out of preliminary development. That includes its stable deployment, maintenance, monitoring and ensuring optimized speed and efficiency with regard to functionality, usability and security.

Security, on second thought, is actually more approachable as a DevOps concern than Software itself.

A DevOps Engineer focuses both on the development and operations of software whereas a Software Engineer focuses only on software development and any other factors dependent around it.

Primary responsibilities of a Software Engineer

  1. Planning software architecture
  2. Coding
  3. Documentation of building and testing procedure
  4. Testing all versions of the software
  5. Bug Fixing
  6. Re-programming designs based on production level behaviours

Primary responsibilities of a DevOps Engineer

  1. Planning software deployment
  2. Managing code
  3. Documentation of deployment procedure
  4. Testing only stable versions of the software
  5. Bug Reporting with Critical Fixing(if needed)
  6. Deploying stable releases in production environments
  7. Maintaining and monitoring deployments
  8. Re-planning designs based on production level behaviours

The points discussed above can be comparatively summarized in the form of the following tabular comparison:

Responsibility Software Engineer DevOps Engineer
Planning Architecture of the Application/Software Architecture and Deployment of the Application/Software
Coding Code Development Code Revision and Management
Documentation Application Building Procedure Application Deployment Procedure
Testing Involves pre-releases and stable versions Involves only stable versions
Bugs Focuses on fixing issues Focuses primarily on reporting issues with critical fixing(if needed)
Design Re-programming based on production level behaviour Re-planning based on production level behaviour
Life Cycle Application/Software Development(ADLC based) System Development(SDLC based)

In a generic sense, DevOps Engineers do not create code from scratch. That is the task of the developers. The development work they get involved with is concerned with reviewing the existing code received from developers, auditing them and providing feedback on the same for improved productivity.

If you refer to the diagram above, you can find that Software Engineers are primarily engaged with ADLC whereas DevOps Engineers are actively involved with the entire SDLC process that spans around it.

I hope now you have a bit better understand of DevOps and Software Developer role.

Avimanyu Bandyopadhyay
Website @iAvimanyu Facebook Kolkata, West Bengal, India