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2022-05-25 09:41:01

DevOps vs. Software Engineer: What's the Difference Between These Roles?

2022-05-25 09:41:01

Client satisfaction is the ultimate goal of DevOps and software developers' work. So what is the one word that best describes our will to achieve that objective?

We all strive to become experts in what we do, reach new heights, get more certificates, and develop ever more interesting projects. However, there is one way to speed things up. 

Cooperation is the key.

This statement complements the title of this article perfectly and is a counterargument to the frequent misconception that one of these roles was a servant to the other. 

The DevOps vs. software engineer relationship is far more complex than this – so let’s shed light on this issue. 

The unavoidable cooperation between DevOps and software engineers

The intertwining of DevOps and software development is connected with concepts such as outsourcing, nearshoring, and offshoring. 


Companies have been embracing these to increase their operational efficiency by moving some of the activities outside their business. According to Statista, the value of IT outsourcing services will reach$396.30bn in 2022 and will further grow by over 8% each year. 


IT outsourcing projects rely on trust and enable proper budgeting.  As external specialists, we need to achieve the EFFECT our client wishes to see and add value to their business at the end of the day.

DevOps vs. software engineer: the difference 

DevOps and software engineers often work in entirely different structures and need to abide by different rules. That’s why establishing communication standards is critical.

So let’s say that the client has enough software development capabilities but struggles with creating an infrastructure for their operations across multiple environments, monitoring, and automation. 

This is common, as it’s impossible to be an expert in all areas. That’s why companies outsource DevOps roles to external teams. Such experts bring the skills and experience needed to set up and automate processes, create Infrastructure as a Code (IaaC), and build a robust cloud infrastructure


DevOps isn’t subordinate to software development

However, despite common misconceptions, DevOps isn’t just about preparing the ground or serving the software development team. 


Instead, it complements  Agile software development, with several aspects coming directly from this methodology.


DevOps involves a different scope of tasks, but it’s equally important and serves the same goal. 


The pillars of successful cooperation between DevOps and developers

So what are the pillars of positive collaboration of an outsourced DevOps team with the in-house development team? 

First of all, the mutual adaptation to how the other side works. Then, taking the responsibility for your area of expertise, but also listening to each other and reacting fast to change. 

All these approaches help master the art of dealing with issues that may arise in a project. The art of problem-solving isn’t easy, but it enables you to avoid duplicating efforts and stepping into each other’s areas of responsibility. By implementing it, teams can work hand-in-hand to build a high-quality end product for the client. 

Maintaining the required level of software quality isn’t exactly a piece of cake, either. You can outline and agree on multiple rules and scoring to govern your processes, but you won’t get far without considering the human factor. 

Its absence doesn’t eliminate the risk of project failure, quite the contrary. We’re all human, after all.  

DevOps engineer roles and responsibilities

While you’re probably well familiar with what software developers do, let’s briefly discuss the idea behind the work of DevOps engineers. 


DevOps engineers work across software development and IT operations, aiming to shorten the development lifecycle and provide continuous delivery with top quality. Their primary role is to communicate effectively and improve visibility across the CI/CD pipeline – and this set of responsibilities requires constant learning of new things. 


I once heard that “DevOps is like kung-fu”. How is that possible? Let’s break it down. 


“Kung” stands for work and achievement, while “Fu” for human. So Kung-fu in this context can signify the perfection achieved thanks to practising your skills for a long time. And yes, there are many schools of Kung-fu. 


Can you see the analogy? DevOps is also some form of culture and line of specialisation. It involves practice, experience, and innovativeness. Remember that strong connection and getting to know the people you work with usually pay off in a better product. 


DevOps is all about people

Technologist Andy Clemenko once shared some relevant observations in the “DevOps Paradox” book. As he put it, “DevOps is a lifestyle. It’s all about being able to adapt to new technologies, not only from a developer point of view but also an operations point of view.” 

After many years in the DevOps business, I can honestly say that there is no such thing as a fixed set of rules. Instead, we create them while collaborating with and getting to know new people and projects. 

DevOps culture aims to bring order to a world of chaos, which often gets created by accident. It encourages us to remove obstacles that we often didn’t even know existed. It also promotes empathy among team members, enabling them to put on their customer’s shoes. 

Despite paying much attention to values and culture, let’s not forget the tools and skills that make the DevOps engineer’s work easier. At the end of the day, its name consists of two equally important elements: development & operations. 

Looking towards the future of IT projects

By focusing equally on technologies, processes, and people, DevOps invites us to create a new trend. A new approach that stops replicating the shortcoming of the old IT world, where development and operations used to take place in silos.


Let’s take this opportunity to focus on the value of building new products and interacting. To succeed, teams need specialists with diverse skillsets and from different backgrounds – and yes, I’m referring to the combination of the DevOps and developer culture. 


The world of technology requires an unprecedented degree of specialisation – much higher than even the best expert could acquire in their lifetime. 


Everything is changing so dynamically that we can’t say where we’ll end up in a decade – and DevOps values and processes help embrace that constant change.

About the author: Mateusz Grządzielski, almost 10 years of experience in IT. He’s worked at all tech support positions – from a specialist to a team leader now. 

At Tenesys, he is in charge of the DevOps Engineers team, focusing on clients’ projects and the whole team’s good vibe. Besides from the IT side, Mateusz is studying at Poznan Economic University and leading his own business. 

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