The more I talk to people from platform world, the more I see a great confusion wandering around Platform Engineers and DevOps engineers. This time I dive into the skills ⚒️ required for both parties.

Let’s get bakin’ 🥐

Do Platform Engineers require the same skills as DevOps Engineers?

This was the question posed by a recent Reddit thread I ran across. Unsurprisingly to me, it received a lot of different answers.

One user commented: “It’s all the same sh*t, titles don’t matter just what the responsibilities are and pay.” Another responded: “Platform engineers work on a higher layer than DevOps, building internal tools for developer consumption and layering things so that devs can focus on shipping products.”

Yet another user chimed in with a longer answer: “DevOps is… usually just a new name for regular operations. … Platform is … what DevOps (the idea) should be, build/manage a platform that enables developers to do their job, and remove as many obstacles as possible to make people as autonomous and fast-moving as possible.”

Three different answers to one seemingly simple question. So what gives?

I think the problem is with the definition of DevOps. Namely that there are so many definitions the term has been rendered inoperable, especially in the context of job titles. If you’re like me, you believe that DevOps was supposed to be a culture and not a job title. But if you’re a DevOps Engineer you might disagree (and understandably so).

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In his PlatformCon keynote, Nigel Kersten commented: “These days, DevOps engineer is about the most useless job title I could possibly imagine. You could be running CI/CD, you could be a cultural consultant, you could be … running different projects… It could be anything.”

So the answer to the original question seems to be “it depends.” It depends on what responsibilities you assume DevOps Engineers have. And there seems to be a wide enough variation that any one assumption is likely incorrect a good amount of the time.

If there’s any lesson to be learned here, it is that, as Nigel Kersten pointed out in the same keynote, platform engineering needs a prescriptive model to avoid this same pitfall.

But what do you think? Let me know @luca_cloud on Twitter.

Short on time? ⏳ We got you 🥐😋

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🥐 The newest Always an Engineer Podcast 🎙️ episode breaks down differences among engineering roles: platform, site reliability, development operations (DevOps), and application. Tune in👇

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🥐 Well... 🙈👇

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