Is devops/sre a good career path when compared to SDE? What are the future prospects in the long run?

Amazon aws_af
Nov 10 22 Comments

I have been working on AWS for a few months right out of college, I see my career trajectory moving towards devops/sre roles given my background. But is it a right choice? I actually like those role, but not a fan of being oncall. What is the future of these roles? Can I make a long term career out of it? Or should I take the safer SDE career path? Given that devops/sres job is automating their own jobs

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TOP 22 Comments
  • Expedia Group / Creative *||||||||*
    I manage a large team of mixed devops and development engineers. The prevalence of devops engineers (in this case, people who do mostly configuration and management, some scripting, but not building apps from the ground up) is problematic for us, as these folks are limited in their career trajectory. Without moving them towards a coding path, it's hard to justify promotions beyond the application engineer 2 level. On the other hand, an sde can grow to principal level (or more!), has a clear value across multiple companies,and can do devops work when called to do so. So, following an SDE path is a much better route if you have the aptitude.
    Nov 10 4
    • Amazon aws_af
      OP
      But given that I have decent coding skills and above average system design skills, can I switch to software architect roles?
      I prefer to stay away from SDE roles because I'm not a fan of front-end/mobile dev . I like backend but I don't want to just design CURD apps. In devops I take care of ci/cd , infra, dB, cdn,dns , security, scaling etc. I've made basic webapps in the past but it got monotonous after a while. Do I have a wrong understanding of SDE role?
      Nov 10
    • Expedia Group luncher
      This is a very interesting perspective. I somehow feel you could be valued higher but only if you are devops + project. Which means you're delivering something end to end. For that you will need the right kind of company and place.
      Nov 10
    • Expedia Group luncher
      And Amazon does seem right because of aws
      Nov 10
    • Expedia Group onleave123
      This is true only for Expedia. Application engineer is a joke of a role in expedia. In most companies devops actually are guys who are hands on dev folks who are more inclined towards infrastructure development, databases, security, ci/cd etc. Expedia is a unique company which makes their dev do devops, their devops then do pure ops and their supposedly NOC team does nothing at all. Taking Expedia as an example to define what devops does would be completely wrong.
      Nov 10
  • Indeed
    O-[=Zlda=>

    Indeed

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    HomeAway, Expedia Group, Rackspace, Amazon, Microsoft, ThoughtWorks, Oracle
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    Career wise, DevOps is just that.

    Think SDE as career in the police academy. You have the opportunity to to climb up the ladder and be the police chief someday if you showcase the right mix of capability and brown nosing.

    On the other hand, SREs are like mall cops. You may become the head of security for Macy’s but you are still the head of security for mall cops 😁
    Nov 10 0
  • Accenture
    pJwc45

    Accenture

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    Amazon, Google
    pJwc45more
    Sde better
    Nov 10 0
  • Nintendo false.
    DevOps is only the modern word for it, but DevOps has always been in a sr/principal level sde skill set. You need to know what kind of database, you need to know where to store static content, how to reduce latency from geographical latency. When you plan the base design you are taking all aspects you can think of into consideration. Software engineers do way more than just plaster code into a mold, they shape the mold.
    Nov 10 3
    • Amazon mst48
      Sober up!
      Nov 10
    • Indeed
      O-[=Zlda=>

      Indeed

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      HomeAway, Expedia Group, Rackspace, Amazon, Microsoft, ThoughtWorks, Oracle
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      Wah!! SRE is NOT a senior or principal level job. It’s a job for people who did not make the cut as successful engineers but did not wanted to end up as SDETs either. Like I said above, a Mall Cop.
      Nov 10
    • Nintendo false.
      I think you misunderstood me. SRE is not what I am talking about, what I'm talking about is a sr/principal dev takes all parts of design into account when making a design. I'm talking a focus on systems design and understanding of that. If you focus on "works on my machine" and not the broader picture you are nothing more than a code monkey.

      The "DevOps" skill is a necessary one for everyone to have. Sde, sre, sdet, etc
      Nov 10
  • Tesla elonotoday
    Devops is methodology. Career wise SRE is the same as SWE.
    Nov 10 0
  • Adobe HaroldWren
    I disagree. SRE is probably a dead end but the trend in the industry is for every developer to be DevOps in some capacity. I actually see a future where we will all have to be full stack devops and our own QE as well.intefacing between all the roles takes up too many development cycles so the more you layer on a single developer the better.
    Nov 10 0
  • LinkedIn kafkasMom
    In most places there's no dev in devops. Stay away.
    Nov 10 4
    • Nintendo false.
      That is the hard part, DevOps for me is dev with some ops, other places it's ops with "dev" and I stretch the word dev there.
      Nov 10
    • Amazon aws_af
      OP
      How is LinkedIn sre role? They seem to be hiring a lot of folks
      Nov 11
    • LinkedIn MechBa
      At LinkedIn its 99% ops
      Nov 11
    • LinkedIn ifnsuscej
      Agree with MechBa but still a solid career path for SRE at LinkedIn. I feel I could get to Sr Staff here someday maybe still.
      Nov 12
  • LinkedIn fsocietyyy
    I'm in a similar boat right now. Been in sre DevOps field straight out of college. While knowledge of ops and infra aspects is important, I feel it's also important to know dev side of the story.

    What I plan/wish to do is do dev job also for couple years to get the taste of that side. That way, you know more part of the stack.
    Nov 10 0
  • Amazon dbn50
    If you're talking about Systems Development this is much harder to hire for than SDE. It's a great path to follow.
    Nov 10 0
  • Google beaidh
    SRE is not well defined in the industry. For example half of Google SREs are SWEs..
    Nov 10 0
  • Stelligent D3v0ps
    Ironically, I currently work for a consulting shop of DevOps Automation Engineers, but I'm not a fan of DevOps as a target role type, esp right out of the gate in a career. If you don't have a strong foundation in Dev and real experience with Ops / Infrastructure, you're likely just automation scripting and using tools (complicated tools, but most TeamCity admin users can't explain what a basic directed acyclical graph is). Cloud has drastically lowered the Ops side barriers, but you aren't going to be able to act as a resource who drastically shifts a dev team towards testing best practices or understanding how to get past the "works on my laptop" mindset while also building a, secure, scalable, monitored architecture. Highly technical, hands on leaders who have real experience significantly improving dev practices and environments for teams they were responsible for make for good "DevOps". I feel that SDE is a better career starting point if you enjoy coding.
    Nov 10 0

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