DevOps can deliver massive benefits to tech businesses. However, to make it work, you need engineers that have the right skills.
More and more tech companies are implementing DevOps strategies into the way they create applications and services. When DevOps works, it brings several significant benefits to the company’s output, as well as its culture. However, DevOps isn’t something you can just bring in overnight. You need engineers that know how DevOps works and possess the right skills and attributes.
In this article, we’ll look at DevOps and how it came to prominence. We’ll also look at what a DevOps engineer does and the kind of skills you need to succeed in this area.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a relatively new strategy for creating better applications faster. It works by bridging the gap between developers and the IT operations team. Through better communication, transparency and collaboration, you break down the barriers between your development and operations teams that typically cause delays and bottlenecks.
DevOps grew in prominence around 2009, when a Belgian programmer called Patrick Debois became intrigued with the possibilities that integrating developers and operations specialists could bring. He formed a community, in-person and online, to talk about ways these teams could work more closely. It began to be known as ‘DevOps’.
Tech companies find that transforming to DevOps brings essential business benefits.
Prior to implementing DevOps, companies often had an inherent separation between Development and IT Operations. Testing, security and deployment activities happened at the end of a project, requiring weeks or months, making it difficult to correct any problems found and causing critical activities to require too much time and effort with too many handoffs. This could result in very long lead times to get anything done and could also affect the quality of work, potentially resulting in negative impacts to customers and the business in general.
In IT Operations, the goal to keep applications and infrastructure running was paramount, often with the trade-off of running increasingly complex and fragile systems. The fragility of the systems could cause product changes to fail thereby jeopardising business lead times and promises to customers. This burden was passed back to the development team who were then tasked with the critical project of taking shortcuts and throwing together a software fix to meet the impending release date.
Over time, this cycle had the tendency to spiral downwards, having increasing negative effects. Code deployments could start to take longer, product delivery cycles moved increasingly slowly and the feedback on work could slow down and become significantly weaker and less precise.
With Devops, Development, QA and IT operations work together. This means small teams are able to quickly and independently develop, test and deploy code quickly, safely and reliably to customers. It makes creating and deploying new systems and processes much quicker. Because developers and operations people are working together, with transparency, the bottlenecks that used to delay deployment no longer exist. Because businesses can create new systems faster, it means they can adapt to changing conditions, such as new demands from customers, or flexible working.
Next, DevOps teams create better products. Software is less likely to fail, and when it does, it will be fixed faster. Products will also be more suited to the problem they are trying to solve. This is because when development and operations work more efficiently, there is more time to brainstorm, understand objectives and try new and innovative ideas. The result is that users, whether people inside the company or customers, are better served. DevOps can be a company’s competitive edge.
Finally, DevOps is better for workplace culture than having development and operations teams siloed separately. When teams communicate and collaborate, work becomes more enjoyable, people are happier, and the company is a more light-hearted, fun place to be.
All in all, DevOps delivers efficiency, effectiveness and better team morale for organisations that implement it.
While the job title and daily responsibilities for a DevOps engineer will vary from company to company, here are some DevOps roles you may find if you’re searching for a new position in DevOps:
- Evangelist – The leader charged with introducing and implementing DevOps in the organisation
- Release Manager – Responsible for new features on a product and their stability after release within the broader product
- Automation – In charge of implementing more automation into the process through the tech stack
- Developer – Responsible for entering the code
- Tester – Tests the code for mistakes or bugs
- Quality Assurance – Makes sure the product achieves its goals
- Security – Monitors the security aspect of the new product and its features. Security is an essential area in DevOps because vulnerabilities are more likely to appear in the code when you’re moving so quickly
How to be a DevOps Engineer
DevOps engineers don’t just spend their day coding, although that is part of it. They also don’t spend their time brainstorming and formulating strategy – although, again, it is part of the job. Succeeding as a DevOps engineer is as much about communication as it is about coding and scripting. Your soft skills need to be as well-honed as your technical skills. Here are some of the attributes you need to be an effective DevOps engineer:
- Technical skills – Any DevOps developer must need to possess top-drawer coding skills in as many different programming languages as possible
- Multi-discipline – DevOps engineers need to be able to work across the development process, from coding to integration, from testing to deployment. You must keep an eye on security and data management. You must be flexible enough to jump into an ongoing coding project and adapt it to changing goals
- Tech knowledge – DevOps engineers must be up-to-date with the latest technological advances in cloud computing, data centres, infrastructure and more
- Strategic – DevOps engineers should be strategic thinkers, with an understanding of goals and how to achieve them. You should be a fast and effective decision-maker. Remember, you’re there to make the company go faster, not to dither
- Communicator – Communication is perhaps the most crucial skill for a DevOps engineer. A significant part of your job will be working with people, getting your views across and directing the development process. DevOps is not a job for people who prefer to work on their own with headphones on
Find out more from Haystack
If you think you fit the bill and want to get into DevOps, it’s time to talk to Haystack.
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