DevOps vs. Automation: What’s The Difference?

DevOps vs. Automation: What’s The Difference?

Updated: October 16, 2023

Many organizations use the terms DevOps and Automation interchangeably. But do they refer to the same processes? We asked 8 practitioners to share their opinions with us.

In this article, you’re going to find out:

  1. The definition of DevOps and the definition of Automation
  2. The responsibilities of DevOps Engineers and Automation Engineers
  3. The difference between DevOps and Automation

Let’s see how these 8 experts answered our DevOps vs. Automation questions.

Finding the Difference between DevOps vs. Automation

The Definition of DevOps

Amazon defines DevOps as a “combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.

Although true, we find this definition to be a bit confusing. So we asked our experts to be a bit more specific. Here’s what they said:

Dmitry Vaskovskyi from Software Planet Group defines DevOps as a “combination or intersection of the Development and Operations functions, with a very narrow application. Many of the DevOps functions, however, can be automated. For example, manual operations such as integration, testing, or deployment can be replaced with automated scripts and fully automatic products.”

The Definition of Automation

On the other hand, “Automation means replacing manual operations with automatic ones. It can be applied at various levels within the organization” – Dmitry Vaskovskyi from Software Planet Group

Pretty straightforward, nothing new here.

The Difference between DevOps and Automation

So, simply put, “DevOps is a practice and discipline, a way of looking at and solving problems, while Automation encompasses the tools you use to implement solutions.” We really love this analogy “DevOps is when you notice that everything in your fridge has rotted and you make a plan to stop wasting food. Automation is the app that coordinates your supermarket trips with your meal schedule and tells you what the optimal thing is to make for dinner” – Mark W. Schumann from Blue Herring

Many practitioners, however, use the terms interchangeably, which is why confusion arises. But from one point of view, it makes sense to see the two as the same. Here’s another great analogy from David Johnson, CTO of Mulytic Labs: “DevOps and Automation are similar to the difference between a car and an engine. An engine is necessary for the car to be useful, but you can have a car without an engine. That car wouldn’t do much and would likely be a waste of space, but it’s still a car. Similarly, you can have an engine without a car. The engine is important, but without a car around it, it’s not as useful as it could be.”

We really think this applies to DevOps and Automation as well – DevOps is the car, and Automation is the engine. You can have DevOps without Automation (or processes and behaviors), but it won’t be effective. DevOps requires fast processing and fast testing. And this is where automation comes in – it empowers DevOps to support multiple projects and pipelines in a cost-effective way.

Other practitioners like Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner at PWV Consultants, think that DevOps and Automation are actually very different things because “Automation is something you can put in place without a human needing to do something. Whenever certain parameters are met, an automated system generates the appropriate response to the data input. On the other hand, DevOps is a subset of process automation, integrating developmental processes with IT operations.” Because of that, DevOps should always require human knowledge – it can, does, and should use automated processes, but any decision-making should be done by humans.

From a business point of view, “DevOps is a mindset that aims to create an IT infrastructure that allows innovation, shorter deployment time, fewer defects, and faster system recovery times. It makes repeatable and consistent workflows more efficient. This way, IT teams can devote more time to focusing on the business and their strategy instead of the day-to-day operations.

Automation, on the other hand, reduces the amount of overhead and human intervention in managing an application’s life cycle. It increases the speed and efficiency of configurations, but IT teams still need to validate the code and be accountable for mistakes and failures. Automating IT processes allows organizations to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation” – Dennis Bell, Founder & CEO of Byblos Coffee

The Goal of DevOps

“The aim of DevOps is to shorten the time and effort it takes for a development team to release new features without compromising on code quality. Code reviews, testing, and deployment take time and can involve quite a bit of back and forth between teams” – Marie Starck, Full-Stack Software Engineer and Entrepreneur.

DevOps also aims to “break down the silo between the different parts of the organization to provide a complete value stream.” In this regard, “Automation in DevOps fosters speed, greater accuracy consistency, reliability, and an increased number of deliveries. It encapsulates everything, from building, deploying, and monitoring” – Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer at TRGDatacenters

The ultimate goal of DevOps Engineers is to “automate themselves out of their jobs”, says Alexander Miasoiedov, Principal Engineer at Mav Farm. “It involves cultural, structural, and process changes to emphasize collaboration and the sharing of responsibilities.”

However, although “DevOps engineers code automation for products, the process by which code is delivered or integrated should always require human knowledge. You shouldn’t automatically push out code to production without testing and securing it first. A human should be approving the final push to production” – Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner at PWV Consultants

Examples of Automation

According to Marie Starck, Full-Stack Software Engineer and Entrepreneur, some examples of Automation include:

  • “Automated testing – making sure a pull request passes all the necessary requirements
  • Automated deployment – for example, once you push a feature to a staging branch, you can also automatically push it to the staging server. The same can be done for deployment to production”.

The Bunnyshell Solution

But this is where Environment as a Service platforms like Bunnyshell shine – they can help you:

put your infrastructure on autopilot

 lower the complexity of deploying applications and automating maintenance and monitoring

save time you can then invest in improving your product/service

spin up unlimited development and staging environments

manage your pipeline more efficiently and with increased velocity

Don’t believe us? Get in touch and let us show you how we can help you.