ITOps vs. DevOps: what’s the difference?

ITOps vs. DevOps: what's the difference?

Titles within an organization evolve nearly as fast as the technology itself. For a long time, the title of DevOps was considered a literal interpretation of “Development” and “Operations” – a catch-all term for hybrid roles encapsulating everything from on-prem, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, to code execution and lifecycle management. Sounds like a lot? It is. Enter “ITOps” – the organizational arm which goes beyond just servicing “Information Technology” and “Operations.” Before we break down some key responsibilities and differences between the two teams, let’s agree on a few things.

What is IT Operations (ITOps)?

To understand the teams, we need to define the organizational concept they serve. Information Technology Operations deliver and maintain all the on-premise, hybrid, and cloud infrastructure necessary for an organization to work. In short, ITOps is the traditional practice of how IT needs are handled within an organization.

What are ITOps teams?

ITOps teams are the internal technology groups most often concerned with maintaining the day-to-day structural integrity and functionality of IT systems. The team must be aware of how every change in one part of the IT infrastructure influences application performance down the line. As an organization grows, the IT structure becomes more complex with added responsibilities from both the server-side and client-side of the technology.

ITOps team responsibilities

In addition to looking at how the network supports applications, ITOps teams often handle practical matters such as security, hardware, and network expansion. 

Common responsibilities include:

  • IT Infrastructure Management – Maintaining all aspects of a business’s network, including the LAN and remote connections
  • Adapting Infrastructure – As new devices and applications come online, testing and adapting the network to minimize disruption
  • Device Management – Making certain that all devices are properly configured and updated
  • Network Security – Handling administrative issues such as role-based access and security audits
  • Incident Response – Diagnosing and addressing network issues
  • Data Safety and Recovery – In addition to keeping the network secure, protecting data from human error through regular backups

This table is a generalized mapping of IT operations job titles to their responsibilities.

ITOps team rolePrimarily Responsible for…
Database AdministratorEnsuring database security, availability, and optimal performance
Application AdministratorConfiguring, installing and maintaining business applications
Security AdministratorDeploying, monitoring security measures which safeguard IT infrastructure from threats and bad actors
Network AdministratorEnsure network infrastructure’s reliability, performance, and security
IT Support SpecialistTechnical support for end-users, hardware/software issues, and resolving IT-related problems
Cloud AdministratorPerformance of cloud-based services and resources as it relates to scalability, security and cost-savings 
IT Security AnalystAnalyzing and responding to security incidents, conducting vulnerability assessments and mitigating asset risk
IT Project ManagerMaking sure IT projects are delivered on time, budget, and meet quality or regulatory standards
DevOps EngineerCoordinating collaboration between development and IT teams to streamline delivery

What is “ITOps culture”?

Given the fact that an IT operations team will take into consideration how one network change can affect the entire system, ITOps exercise a culture of caution.  For example, an ITOps member might examine the changes necessary to avoid crashing a network before a large application update is pushed. This allows them to avoid creating a weak spot in security, and prevent other disasters.

What is DevOps?

DevOps’ – or the Development Operations Team – primary focus is to update and develop new applications for a business. They are also responsible for supplying code which automates deployments and glues infrastructure together on the backend. DevOps teams are task-oriented and often have a narrow focus. Their method of operating is typically to receive a problem or project – then develop the solution.

DevOps team responsibilities

The responsibilities of a DevOps team vary depending on the size of the organization. For example, in medium-sized tech companies, they may spend more time handling traditional IT concerns such as network management. Expectations of this group can, but do not always, include:

  • Application development: developing, monitoring and updating the user-facing applications written by software developers at the company
  • Deployment: working with IT resources to get applications up and running
  • Automation: seeking to streamline the deployment process through integrations and automation
  • Incident response: addressing application issues and monitoring performance
  • Testing and Updates: observing applications and applying fixes and improvements

As you saw in our table about ITOps teams, the DevOps engineer bridges the gap between development and information technology, preventing silos and reducing workflow redundancies. 

This table is a generalized mapping of DevOps job titles to their responsibilities.

DevOps team rolePrimarily Responsible for…
DevOps EngineerCoordinating collaboration between development and IT teams to streamline delivery
Release ManagerLogistics of software releases and deployments through  coordinating with development, testing, and operations teams
Build EngineerBuild process for software projects, ensuring code compilation, and reliable packaging 
Configuration ManagerVersioning and configuration of software and infrastructure, ensuring consistency across different environments
Continuous Integration SpecialistCI tools and processes to automate code integration, testing, and deployment
Continuous Deployment SpecialistCD tools and processes to automate the deployment of code to production environments
Automation EngineerAutomated solutions for various tasks, such as testing, monitoring, and infrastructure provisioning
Site Reliability EngineerReliability, performance, and availability of systems and applications, using a combination of software engineering and operations skills
DevSecOps Engineersecurity practices into the DevOps workflow, ensuring security measures are applied throughout the software development and deployment lifecycle
Scrum MasterFacilitate Agile/Scrum practices within the development team, removing impediments, and promoting collaboration and efficiency

What is DevOps culture?

The DevOps culture and philosophy have been highly influenced by the Agile development movement. This environment, or culture, values frequent testing and continuous improvement. Rather than creating a full project and testing it at the end, developers build quality assurance and test it throughout the process. This philosophy expedites a DevOps strategy built on flexibility and innovation, empowering teams to stretch the limits of infrastructure, knowing their hypothesis will be proven or dispelled well before release.

Shared concerns 

Both ITOps and DevOps are typically concerned with overall IT performance. 

For example, DevOps team members may be looking for the best way to deploy a new platform or software solution. However, this approach could create unexpected consequences further down the line. Consider the impacts of a scenario where the current servers can only handle the traffic of the new software – at the expense of other applications.

The ITOps team may look at a new application as part of the big picture of the infrastructure. They may seek to improve the network to accommodate the new software. On the other hand, they may adjust the performance of the application to prevent disrupting other processes.

To maintain optimal performance, both teams must employ a monitoring and observability strategy. In monitoring, they will receive information about the current state of the system or application. While observing, they will develop solutions that indicate when something has gone wrong. We’ll discuss this further in a later section.

Observability: a shared responsibility between ITOps and DevOps

Observability is where development and IT concerns overlap. When an application fails, it may be the result of coding errors or infrastructure issues. In either case, a robust observation strategy on both sides will help diagnose and address the problem.

Observability is an increasingly relevant concept within the world of technology. Studies show that IT observability – having full visibility into the health, performance, and availability of an application, service, or system – has become the shared responsibility of both ITOps and DevOps teams. Observability is achieved through comprehensive monitoring of metrics, logs, configuration, and application trace data.

What are the main benefits of achieving unified IT Observability?

According to ITOps and DevOps professionals, these are the main benefits of observability:

  1. Full visibility across business processes, apps, and infrastructure (19%)
  2. Performance visibility (18%)
  3. Ability to troubleshoot faster (15%)
  4. Reduction in outages/brownouts (15%)
  5. Ability to automate certain workflows (12%)


DevOps is focused on improving the process of developing and delivering software, with an emphasis on collaboration and automation.

ITOps is focused on the day-to-day operation and maintenance of technology infrastructure and services, with an emphasis on monitoring and troubleshooting.

DevOps aims to enable organizations to release software more quickly and with fewer errors, while ITOps aims to ensure that technology services are available, stable, and secure.

While there is some overlap between DevOps and ITOps, they are generally distinct and serve different purposes within an organization.

Further reading

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