Although they both have "developer" in their names, there are significant differences between developer operations (DevOps) engineers vs developers.
DevOps engineers automate processes to create, test, and deploy software for the entire software development life cycle (SDLC). In contrast, developers have a much narrower scope — they only code software and develop features for clients.
Read on to learn more about the roles of DevOps vs developers, including developers vs DevOps' roles, core functions, and principles. You'll also learn which type you need for your company or project.
DevOps vs Developers: How Do They Compare?
What is the difference between DevOps vs developers? Understanding the differences between developers vs DevOps can be challenging, particularly if you're not an IT professional. Here's a breakdown of each role.
DevOps engineers are information technology (IT) professionals who are part of development and operations. This means that they're responsible for coding applications and organizing code releases.
The main difference between DevOps engineers and software developers is that DevOps don't spend the bulk of their time creating new or improved app functionalities. Instead, they focus on automating pipelines and virtual servers. They also work with product operations teams, software developers, and other teams to build, test, and deploy software in short iterations.
Essentially, DevOps engineers oversee the software development lifecycle to ensure that the finished software application is deployed on time.
Skilled DevOps engineers need to know how to:
- Write, test, and deploy code.
- Manage and interact with people.
- Communicate effectively and efficiently.
- Drive change management.
- Use DevOps tools and automation.
- Manage and maintain cloud resources.
- Apply Agile and DevOps principles.
DevOps engineers' duties vary from company to company, but typical duties include:
- Writing code
- Preparing and organizing code releases
- Working with the product operations team to oversee the operations and deployment side of software development
- Assessing and using automation tools
- Maintaining security and compliance procedures
- Monitor operations by helping software developers as needed
- Applying Agile and DevOps principles to the SDLC
Software Developers Roles
Software developers are responsible for designing, developing, testing, and maintaining application software. Unlike DevOps engineers, software developers generally don't work with other teams to release and deploy software applications. Their primary focus is on building and improving functionalities for software applications.
Important skills for software developers include:
- Database knowledge
- Strong reasoning and analytical skills
- The ability to spot and solve software issues
Common software development responsibilities include:
- Executing user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designs
- Enhancing and maintaining existing codebases
- Writing code for apps and software
- Detecting and resolving problems with software and operating procedures of the SDLC
- Managing software installation for clients
Core Functions of DevOps Engineers
Now that you have a clear grasp of the differences between DevOps vs developers, here's a look at the core functions of DevOps engineers.
One of the key functions of DevOps engineers is deployment automation. This software deployment approach allows teams to increase velocity by automating build, testing, and deployment workflows for developers. In other words, DevOps engineers use deployment automation to create, test, and release new features faster and more frequently.
The benefits of deployment automation include:
- Increased productivity: Automation accelerates the SDLC by removing the need for slow manual processes.
- Fewer errors: Automated processes also produce fewer errors. They also reduce or eliminate rework, delays, and the business impact of delays and failures in production.
- Improved auditability and visibility: DevOps engineers can use automated systems to record errors and development metrics throughout the SDLC. This will help the team locate errors, inefficiencies, and other issues quickly.
High-Quality End-User Experience
DevOps engineers also play a crucial role in creating memorable end-user experiences (UX). Thanks to deployment automation, DevOps engineers can immediately spot and address bugs from root causes. As a result, customers are much less likely to encounter defects and bugs.
Customers can also expect continuous improvements after deployment — DevOps uses automated monitoring to observe how users engage with their software and feeds this information back to software developers so they can fix, add, or remove features as needed.
Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Monitoring
Last but not least, DevOps engineers are responsible for managing a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline.
A CI/CD pipeline combines two software development practices: CI and CD.
- CI is a software development practice that merges all developers' code changes into a single hub multiple times per day.
- CD adds automation to the entire software deployment process.
How CI/CD Works
When combined, CI and CD create a CI/CD pipeline. This pipeline automates the software delivery process by building code, running tests (CI), and deploying a new version of the app (CD). It removes manual errors, enables lightning-quick product iterations and releases, and provides standardized feedback to developers. Like Agile, it requires teams to deliver products and services in short cycles, enabling quick feedback and continual improvement.
Here's how a CI/CD pipeline works:
- Source: The pipeline is triggered by a change in the source code repository. Whenever a code change happens, CI triggers an automated sequence that provides feedback to the developer(s) behind the change. Most CI feedback loops run in less than 10 minutes.
- Test: After passing the build stage, your DevOps engineers will run automated tests to verify the code's correctness and see how the product will behave. Note that the DevOps team is only responsible for overseeing and managing the tests — your software developers are responsible for writing the tests. This stage is a safety act that prevents bugs from reaching customers.
- Deploy: Once your DevOps hires have created a runnable instance of the code and passed all tests, they're ready to deploy the product. Most companies use multiple deploy environments, such as a "staging" or "beta" environment for internal testing and a "production" environment for clients.
DevOps Principles for DevOps Team to Follow
DevOps is more than just practices, tools, and how engineers can work with operations and development teams. Like Agile, it's a mindset — a company culture that requires teams to adopt new ways of working.
Specifically, a DevOps culture requires teams to adhere to the following DevOps principles to deliver top-notch services and applications.
DevOps encourages developers to automate as much of the SDLC as possible. This gives more time to code new features. As mentioned, automation is a mainstay of the CI/CD pipeline. It also boosts productivity and reduces human errors.
Thanks to the CI/CD pipeline and automated deployment, DevOps practices enable rapid response to user feedback. Teams also get real-time visibility into how users use the software, which they can use for further improvements.
One of the fundamental premises behind DevOps is collaboration. Operations and development teams fuse into a single team that communicates, collaborates, and shares feedback throughout the entire SDLC.
Each DevOps team member is responsible for ensuring that their contributions work the way they should. This leads to a more holistic approach to development, where teams collaborate on the SDLC from start to finish. This increased level of attachment and investment generates higher quality products for end-users.
DevOps also requires teams to adopt continuous improvement. A staple of Agile practices, continuous improvement focuses on experimentation, minimizes waste, and optimizes cost, speed, and ease of delivery.
Unlike traditional project management methodologies where software starts in one department and is passed to various departments until public release, continuous improvement breaks the SDLC into small iterations to increase the speed and frequency of releases.
The constant pipeline of new releases offers many advantages, including:
- Improved customer satisfaction and value
- Improved development efficiency
- Quicker feedback loops
Functions of Software Development Teams
Unlike DevOps engineers — who oversee the entire SDLC — software development teams have fewer responsibilities. Here's what they're responsible for.
Code development involves using programming languages to create software applications for end-users. There are many types of programming or coding languages, ranging from Word Wide Web display languages like HTML to object-oriented languages like C++.
Some of the most popular languages for software development teams include:
One of the fastest and most flexible languages, C++ gives devs complete control over memory allocation and management. It's a great pick for building large software applications and infrastructure that run on limited resources, including games and operating systems. Software developers can also use C++ to program Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smartwatches and medical devices.
An open-source language designed to be readable and compact, Python was one of the most popular programming languages in 2021. It's widely used for:
- Developing software and websites
- Data analysis
- Task automation
- Data visualization
Part of the C language family, Java is the go-to programming language for creating mobile apps, database connections, desktop applications, and web servers. It's also the staple programming language for machine learning, IoT, and data science.
Static Application Security Testing
Software developers are also responsible for static application security testing (SAST), a methodology that spots security vulnerabilities in source code before compilation.
SAST tools are a white box form of security testing that tests applications from the inside out. Unlike black box forms of security testing, they don't require a finished or deployed application. As such, software developers can use SAST tools to find and fix vulnerabilities earlier in the SDLC.
Application Performance Monitoring
Finally, software developers are responsible for using application performance monitoring (APM) tools to monitor the performance of software applications. APM platforms empower software developers to monitor health metrics and service dependencies, eliminate errors, and reduce latency to optimize UX.
APM functionalities vary greatly depending on the vendor, but most offer the following:
End-to-End Application Performance Monitoring
Many APM platforms empower software developers to:
- View logs and traces.
- Connect distributed traces to live processes, infrastructure metrics, and network calls.
- Tie browser and API test failures to back-end errors.
Have Live Visibility
Leading-edge APM tools let software developers investigate incidents faster with machine-learning real-time insights that instantly surface latency and error outliers.
Get Code-level Insights
Most APM tools give software developers code-level insights to optimize production code so they can save on compute costs. Examples include:
- Breakdown of slow requests by lock contention, time spent in code on CPU, and other factors
- Explanations of performance regressions caused by inefficient code through comparing code profiles using any timeframe or tag
- Detecting bottlenecks and profile aggregations of endpoints and services in source code
Software developers should also be able to monitor and compare deployments, pinpoint outliers, and visualize service dependency changes.
Principles for Software Developers
Like DevOps engineers, software developers follow a specific set of principles. Three of the most popular principles for software engineering include:
One of the most important software engineering principles is KISS, an acronym for "Keep It Simple, Stupid."
KISS is a reminder that applications and systems work best when kept simple. Removing unnecessary complexities and dependencies will make applications easier to understand, fix, and extend. As every experienced software developer knows, complexity often leads to bugs and unnecessary problems that aren't worth the time or effort.
Next on the list is another acronym, SOLID. A list of five software engineering principles, SOLID first appeared in Robert Martin's paper, Design Principles and Design Patterns. It consists of the following:
Single responsibility: Every method, class, or module needs to have separate roles and responsibilities. This makes your code more organized and easier to structure and debug.
Open closed: This principle advises software developers to build their classes, modules, and functions to be open for extension, but closed for modification.
- Open for extension means that software developers should be able to add new features to the modules, classes, and functions without breaking existing code.
- Closed for modification means that software developers should not make unnecessary changes to existing functionalities.
Liskov substitution: Software developers' subclasses should have the same basic behavior as their parent or base class. In other words, your developers' subclasses should behave the same way as the objects of their superclasses.
Interface segregation: Creating multiple client-specific interfaces is more practical than creating one general-purpose interface. To illustrate, it's better to have separate tabs for dealing with separate issues than to have a tab that deals with a range of unrelated issues.
Dependency inversion: This principle encourages software developers to use abstractions like interfaces instead of concrete implementations when possible.
Finally, software developers should reuse code for similar objectives in the future. This can help accelerate the software production process and reduce bugs.
Let's say that your software development team created a weather app with a date-calculating function a few months ago. To save time and energy and reduce bugs, they can resue the weather app's date-calculating code for a new healthcare app that also has a date calculation function.
Which Do You Need in Your Production Environment?
Both DevOps engineers and software developers play important roles in the production and deployment of software. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you should — or need to — hire DevOps engineers and software developers.
DevOps vs Developer Work Culture
Every company that wants to create and deploy software should hire software developers, but not every company should hire DevOps engineers. That's because DevOps is a culture, not just a role. Therefore, only companies that follow or want to follow DevOps principles should hire DevOps engineers.
If your company follows another project management methodology — especially one that doesn't gel well with DevOps, such as Waterfall — avoid hiring DevOps engineers. They won't fit well into your team, especially if you keep operations and development separate.
Remember: One of the fundamental principles of DevOps is de-siloing departments by making everyone work together.
DevOps vs Developer Salaries
DevOps engineers also tend to come with higher price tags, so they may not be the best pick for startups with limited resources. According to Glassdoor, the average U.S.-based DevOps engineer makes a whopping $105,017 per year. For comparison, the average U.S.-based software developer makes $97,763 per year. However, this average includes big-name companies like Oracle and Facebook — most smaller companies only offer around $70,000 per year, especially for less experienced roles.
Hire the Best DevOps and Developers in the Industry
Luckily, there's a cost-effective and flexible way to hire these IT professionals: through Revelo. As the largest tech company in Latin America's human resources sector, we'll help you source, hire, and onboard DevOps engineers and software developers with ease. All of our software developers and engineers have been rigorously pre-vetted for their English proficiency and skills, including:
- Ruby on Rails
If you're not sure whether DevOps engineers are a good fit for your team, reach out to us today and tell us about your goals. In three days, we'll send you a list of the best engineers and developers for your team. If you don't think they're the best fit for your team during our free 14-day trial, it's on us.