DevOps vs SysOps - similarities and differences

DevOps vs SysOps - similarities and differences

Paulina Cirocka on 13-02-2023 | 5 min read

Together with the development of cloud services, the methodologies of work and management have also evolved. One of the most significant changes in this area was the birth of DevOps and SysOps. In this article you will learn more about the second one and how SysOps professionals work in comparison to DevOps engineers.

What’s SysOps?

A detailed definition of DevOps and DevOps approach you can find here. SysOps is a short for “System Operations”. A person in this position takes care of the whole infrastructure in an organization, both software and hardware. In many cases SysOps is responsible not only for administration and management, but also implementation of new solutions. 

Just like DevOps, SysOps is an important part of your engineering. Before cloud services development, the name “SysOps” or “system operator” was used for every person responsible for a computer system. But as cloud computing grew and evolved, there was a split and now SysOps professionals are working with multi-user systems. Some of SysOps responsibilities are similar to DevOps professionals, but of course there are differences.

SysOps vs. DevOps - what are the differences?

So what are the main differences between SysOps and DevOps? Let’s look at the comparison:

  1. Delivery methodology

SysOps - uses ITIL methodology

DevOps - based on strong cooperation between development and operations teams

  1. Code development

SysOps - prefers constant, stable rate of code changes and deployment

DevOps - works dynamically, in unpredictable rate of code changes and deployment

  1. Reaction to change

SysOps - provides the risk free continuation of services, isn’t flexible for changes

DevOps - open to changes and flexible, looking for consensus between development and operations teams

  1. Change of entity

SysOps - working on servers

DevOps- working on the code

  1. Service approach

SysOps - makes all processes working fluently in the organization

DevOps - develops the business value of the organization

What should SysOps know?

Besides the obvious knowledge about cloud computing and its components, a candidate for SysOps should also be familiar with operating systems (Windows and Linux), configuration of servers, and databases. Sometimes knowledge about programming languages is also required.

SysOps use also a specific sets of tools which help them with daily work:

  • Tools which support the process of hardware management 

Thanks to the automation, the administration of hardware evidence will be checked automatically, same as new software installations, amortization period and many more vital aspects. 

  • Tools which support management of networks and databases

Monitoring networks and databases is another vital element of SysOps work. Nagios, Icinga, NeDi and Cacti are tools designed to control and identify abnormalities and errors.

  • Tools for Helpdesk 

A SysOps is usually the first contact in case of problems, so efficient management of reports is a must have. 

What are the responsibilities of a SysOps?

The most popular way of becoming a SysOps Administrator is taking an AWS course and exam to receive certification. To be honest, this course is considered one of the hardest in the AWS offer, but helps to gain necessary knowledge to fulfill your duties. Two main areas of an AWS SysOps Administrator are configuration of the AWS cloud management service, and monitoring and management of their services carefully. Other examples are:

  • Management of the AWS lifecycle, provisioning, automation and security,
  • setting up and administering multi-tier computer system circumstances,
  • configurations and fine-tune cloud infrastructure systems,
  • performing software upgrades,
  • monitor availability and performance extent,
  • monitor effectively charging and cost optimization strategies,
  • creating backups, managing disaster recoveries,
  • maintain Data Integrity and access control (if AWS application platform is used).

It’s also worth mentioning that huge organizations spread these responsibilities between two functions - SysOps Administrator and System Operator. The first one manages access and security, while the second runs and operates the server. But in small companies these two roles are usually combined.

SysOps or DevOps - which one to choose?

As you can see, the field of SysOps work is a bit different from DevOps. While considering hiring a DevOps or SysOps, think about your business goals in the project, the rate of changes, its flexibility and size. SysOps is usually dedicated to a small infrastructure and projects which don’t change very dynamically, especially with AWS resources. Also the costs are lower than in the case of DevOps approach. 

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