While DevOps and SRE roles overlap a lot technical execution–wise, the distinction likely comes from the size and scale of the organization. Since software and its ecosystem do not follow economies of scale, it becomes imperative for teams to specialize and focus, as an organization’s software and infrastructure grows with scale; that is where the probable transition from DevOps to SRE comes into play. For smaller businesses and organizations, DevOps culture reduces the impedance between development and operations resulting in rapid iterations and change. As an organization grows and scales it becomes imperative to standardize how software is developed and deployed to reduce the cognitive load and effort when it comes to understating and getting things done.

Both DevOps and SRE roles can make contributions here, DevOps can focus more on developer productivity (e.g., tooling like build systems, trainings, better testing, etc.), while SREs focus on maintaining uptime, upkeep of production systems, and specialized tooling (e.g., distributed tracing infrastructure), both the roles become a full-time job with scale. The common aim is again to deliver change from code commit to production deployment, which is as frictionless as possible, highly visible, and predictable. Yes, DevOps and SRE roles can coexist, but the line is blurred and not easy to draw. It would largely depend on the organization, its business, and size.

Seeking SRE - Chapter 12 DevOps and SRE: Voices from the Community