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DevOps vs. systems administration

January 27, 2020

Most people are aware of the traditional role of a system administrator. The role is based on an Information Technology (IT) department model and requires dedicated personnel that manage infrastructure such as computers, networking equipment, hardware racks, storage, and other infrastructure in order to better serve the company and outside clients.

Duties are well defined and documented so the team members understand what is expected and what needs to be delivered. System Administrators provide the computing environment and access to the engineers, enabling them to do their job and move on to the next request.

In the System Administrator model, there is a clear separation of duties between IT and Engineering. IT supports the infrastructure required for the Engineering teams to build, maintain, and optimize their digital solutions.

In a DevOps environment, however, these roles are a bit more blended. Both IT and Engineering team members work closely together on each delivery, enhancing speed and accuracy. The DevOps model required a combination of different skillsets including administration, coding, application configuration, support, troubleshooting, TCP/IP networking, build, integration and many other skills. During the delivery process, the team members contribute directly to the tasks.

When there is a problem, in a DevOps model, team members can shift off of their tasks and work closely togeher to resolve the issue is less time compared to a traditional IT model.

The development team and the support team must be able to work together in a DevOps agile model to streamline the build, validate, deploy and delivery stages of development. This model provide the following advantages in a support and development cycle:

  • Enable shorter deployment of changes
  • Reduction in defect rate
  • Faster recovery from system failures

According to CloudBees, the DevOps model of continuous delivery helps companies save and average of $3,500 and 66 hours per developer, per year. Imagine what you could do with that extra money and time. This helps businesses get new products and enhancements in front of customers due to shorter, more efficient, development cycles.

DevOps as Good Business

If you couldn’t tell already, we are fans of the DevOps approach here at LYONSCG. We focus on delivering solutions that are aligned to our clients’ business objectives: reducing time to market, eliminating defects and bugs, providing emergency support and maintenance, etc. Our approach helps us to do all of these things.

Beyond efficiency, DevOps just makes sense from a business perspective. We’ve touched on the time and cost savings that DevOps provides, but it also allows organizations to drive innovation and react faster than ever before to changes in their markets or customer expectations. Essentially, it allows our clients to improve their productivity, customer service, brand equity, and digital business while also mitigating the risk inherent in today’s digital ecosystem.

As the digital world continues to evolve at faster and faster speeds, staying on the front foot becomes increasingly critical for organizations in almost every industry. Business leaders are recognizing IT and their technical resources as truly valuable assets, and they need to be managed strategically. DevOps provides the platform for getting the most out of these teams: the performance of LYONSCG and our clients speaks volumes as to its effectiveness.

The Role of the Site Reliability Engineer

Critical to the success of the DevOps model is a specialized position that we call the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE). By no means is this role unique to LYONSCG – companies such as Google, Netflix, Atlassian, Facebook, and other tech leaders use them as well – but it does make a difference when it comes to driving efficient, quality solutions.

So, what makes for a good SRE? A wide range of skills.

Think of an SRE as a QA team’s Swiss army knife. They need to know both software development and systems admin practices to ensure site reliability, and how to leverage automation tools to boost effectiveness. They also need to be able to translate complex, technical details to less code-savvy business audiences (never an easy task!).

The list goes on and on, but essentially, an SRE is the hub – the nucleus – of a QA team. They are the ones that keep processes moving, sites online, and stakeholders informed. The role is not an easy one, but with the right SRE, businesses are able to build, deploy, manage, and maintain their digital experiences more effectively than ever.