IT Operations vs DevOps (the 9 Important Differences)

IT Operations vs DevOps explained with 8 important differences you must know and that apply to modern software companies as well

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IT Operations vs DevOps: what is the difference? How they connect with one another? If you want to know more about the difference between IT Operations and DevOps, this quick guide will explain you everything you need to know.

IT Operations vs DevOps

What is IT Operations?

In a company or organization, IT Operations is what keeps IT running, the set of people, processes and resources that ensure information flows from one place to another. In the end, IT is all about moving and storing information, but this must be done in the right way.

IT Operations vs DevOps: IT Operations is more about server sand physical infrastructure like the one in the picture, while DevOps is more about logical software, this is one of the differences
Servers relate with IT Operations. Note that the ones in picture are not normally used in new setups.

Have you ever lost a backup of some picture you really liked, or of some important document? Have you ever forgot to save a file and had to re-do it all over, maybe just before an important meeting where you needed it? These things can be bad, and they shouldn’t happen. IT Operations ensure similar things do not happen at a higher scale, for example that the conferencing platform is always working for all employees, or that the file server doesn’t lose the files of all users.

Of course, the tasks of IT operations are much more nuanced than that, and if you want to know the difference of IT Operations vs DevOps, we need to dive deeper. In the end, any technological tool that you use is an application: some instructions written with some code. This code must be executed by physical hardware in the end, computers. IT Operations ensures these computers are up and running correctly. Not only that, it also ensures there are enough computers to meet the capacity that is needed, as well as grow them to meet the capacity that is expected.

If you want to learn more about IT Operations, you should check out this detailed article about IT Operations.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is the union of two words: Development, and Operations. Of course, with Operations we mean IT Operations, so there is clearly some overlap between the two. In short, development is about writing the code, operations is about ensuring you have the infrastructure needed to run it (as we mentioned before).

Specifically, operations can be divided into two parts: hardware provisioning and maintenance, and configuration. If you want to have a server to run your code, you need to buy it, and physically install it into a datacenter, plug it to the electric power and to the network for connectivity.

But having a piece of hardware is not enough, it must be able to run the code of your application, the code that you developed as part of the development in DevOps. This means having the correct Operating System, drivers and configurations needed on the server. Only then you can run the application easily.

Traditionally, server were installed and configured by system administrators so that developers could create code, that then system administrators were responsible of placing into the server and ensuring it could run smoothly. DevOps changes this. With DevOps, the server configuration is paired with the code, so that the code and the server configuration needed to run it are one thing, together. This mean that this “one thing” (code + configuration) can be pushed to any server, and it will be able to work immediately and run your application. As such, DevOps allows for automatic deployment, code can be pushed automatically to servers when it is ready to be released.

This automation means system engineers don’t have to spend their time placing the code onto the server and make it run. Hence, since it is all automatic, the developers can release the code as fast and as often as they like to be published on the server immediately. This is called Continuous Deployment.

Because of this, the development process shifts from few big releases with many features (in the traditional approach), to many small releases with few features (the DevOps approach). In fact, multiple releases may be published in a single day!

One of the key technology enabling this is Docker, because it allows to create containers that pair server configuration with your own application code.

IT Operations vs DevOps Explained

We now understand both IT Operations and DevOps, and we have a glimpse on the traditional software release process as well as the modern and nimbler DevOps. We know that DevOps takes care of some of the tasks that were performed by IT Operations in the past, so what about modern IT Operations?

Here, we finally see IT Operations vs DevOps. We see what the differences are, and what is the role IT Operations can have in a world were DevOps is dominant.

  • IT Operations is about restoring hardware faults and replacing broken components, DevOps is now in charge of server configuration
  • Some system engineers that worked in the past in IT Operations now work together with the DevOps engineer to help them to define system configurations
  • IT Operations is in charge of working with end-user devices, such as computers of employees and mobile phones, DevOps focuses on applications and datacenter mostly
  • DevOps is about producing a product/service, IT Operations is about keeping it running
  • IT Operations is about processing tickets (such as service requests or incidents, according to the ITIL framework), DevOps is about creating something new
  • IT Operations is about ensuring network and connectivity between servers and location is up and running, DevOps doesn’t touch that except in larger cloud and datacenter providers
  • IT Operations ensure the physical facilities are well functioning, including planning for new hardware, racks, and often also power and HVAC (crucial to keep the servers at the correct temperature)
  • IT Operations tends to work with standard tasks
  • IT Operations monitors the status of current operations so that they can react to problems, DevOps does not

Hopefully, if you wanted to know the differences of IT Operations vs DevOps, you now have a much clearer picture. Of course, while both the definitions of IT Operations and DevOps are widely accepted and more or less the same, remember that every company has its own flavors, so these difference will take a different shape for every company.

IT Operations vs DevOps in Summary

IT Operations vs DevOps: they have some common points of contact in the modern world, but they have key differences as well.

To recap in a super-short manner (TL;DR), you can consider IT Operations as dealing with hardware and physical stuff, while DevOps dealing with software and configuration stuff. Furthermore, you can consider IT Operations about keeping things running, and DevOps about creating new things.

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

Alessandro Maggio


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