DevOps engineers often spend a lot of time explaining what their job entails. Mostly because they work in an innovative field exposed to continuous change and evolution. Rooted in the area of cloud infrastructure IT services, DevOps professionals originate from various IT backgrounds. They rarely start their professional journey as full-on DevOps engineers. For many of them, DevOps engineering is the result of a fascinating blend of certain skills, passion, and professional choices.
The concept of DevOps has been created following the merger of development with operations and out of the need for accelerating product updates and automating internal processes. DevOps is a development strategy designed to provide a connection between development and IT operations. A better, more fluid relationship between the two helps organizations create and release product updates faster while ensuring a higher level of stability.
What exactly is a DevOps engineer?
DevOps engineers collaborate with software developers, system operators, admins, and other IT specialists to ensure Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). They understand the software development life cycle and contribute to the development of CI/CD pipelines. A DevOps makes the linear timeline of one stage following the other obsolete and allows them to run concomitantly, enabling organizations to deploy updates daily without customers having to take action.
DevOps engineers work with the development team and operation teams to oversee the code releases. They use tools and processes to ensure a flawless software development life cycle and get involved in relevant aspects. For DevOps professionals to be able to perform their roles successfully, they need to be either developers interested in deployment and network operations or sysadmins involved in scripting and coding. Only when armed with such skills, DevOps engineers can contribute to better testing and deployment planning.
What does a DevOps engineer do?
Their job is continuously assimilating new tasks, but their main role is to unify the work of development teams and IT operations. While the first is responsible for enriching applications with new features, the latter work continuously to preserve the application’s stability following its release. A DevOps team has the task of ensuring cross-team collaboration, overseeing the deployment process, and implementing infrastructure automation.
DevOps engineers are often involved in combining code, as well as application management and maintenance. They need to be excellent communicators and usually work in teams, each of the DevOps engineers overseeing a specific part of the infrastructure. Here are some of the most important roles a DevOps engineer takes upon themselves:
- Project manager – overall supervision of IT projects providing guidelines, workflow processes, and deadlines, and facilitating team collaboration
- IT infrastructure designer – infrastructure evaluation and improvement for faster releases to market, adding users to a cloud infrastructure, permissions, and implementing workflow processes
- Release manager – new feature releases, release cycle optimization, release schedules, and post-release product stability supervision
- Automation expert – automation of repetitive tasks and DevOps key processes, as well as software plugins integration
- Software developer – code development and script writing
- Software tester – system evaluation and code testing
- Quality assurance – monitoring and providing feedback from production to accelerate processes and identify and minimize errors before release.
- Security engineer – implementation of security measures and ensuring the security of DevOps processes, writing secure code, and building secure software
What technical skills do you need to become a DevOps engineer?
Since DevOps engineers wear so many hats, the need for several years of IT experience in different sectors is of utmost importance. They need to have good knowledge of cloud platforms (AWS, Azures, GCP), as well as configuration management. DevOps professionals master deployment tools like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible, and version control, and know their way around scripting. CI/CD management is critical for a DevOps engineer to succeed in filling in the gap between software development and operations.
While DevOps teams do not usually write product code, they might need to come up with solutions to speed up processes, so code writing and scripting to automate tasks always come in handy and are highly appreciated by everyone in the organization. Basic knowledge or mid-level scripting should be enough for the role. Furthermore, an understanding of Agile methodology is essential to overcome the shortcomings of the traditional Waterfall development model and create an agile relationship between the departments for faster update releases.
What soft skills should a DevOps engineer possess?
A DevOps approach might entail solitary work, but DevOps professionals need to also be expert collaborators and have people skills. Their work is based on the work of other professionals in various teams, so it is essential for them to excel at communication and cross-team collaboration. They are, after all, the glue that keeps many IT functions together. Soft skills are always an advantage for professionals considering taking on a DevOps role. Add to this impeccable organization and interpersonal skills, and you’ve got yourself the perfect DevOps engineer.
The discipline is relatively new, so there aren’t too many DevOps engineers created in the furnace of universities. DevOps engineers are shaped in various IT fields and come to life when they acquire experience with CI/CD. They can be system managers, software developers, IT project managers, or database administrators.
Since the DevOps approach to software development is still relatively new for IT organizations, hiring managers may have a hard time identifying their roles within the company and hiring the best persons for the job. However, organizations that have entrusted their processes in the talented hands of DevOps engineers have noticed an overall positive impact in various departments within the company. DevOps contributed to improved deployment frequency, lead time, and delivery timelines, but they have also made an impact on team management.
Often, their presence in an organization has been accompanied by a subtle and positive cultural change within the company. DevOps have the necessary skills to streamline interaction and communication between all levels within an organization. They understand what is needed for people and processes to collaborate and manage to identify the gaps that need to be filled with expertise.