What Is a DevOps Engineer?

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At Good e-Learning, we’re always quick to point out just how quickly the world of technology can change. New developments seem to be taking place almost daily, and customer expectations have been evolving so rapidly that many once-unshakable companies are now a distant memory.

However, these changes are hardly limited to the apps you flick through or the services you use online. The driving concepts behind corporate IT are also evolving, and several classic human errors are finally being ironed out of general practices.

For example, we often imagine software development as a drawn-out ‘from the ground up’ style process. This is despite the growing number of opportunities for automation, as well as the increasing demand for speedy releases and repairs. Another issue is the tendency for developed code to become someone else’s problem as soon as it is deployed, leaving operations staff to handle any resulting difficulties with little to no help from developers. Management styles that allow these issues to persist are finally being phased out – and one of the main driving forces behind this has been the widespread adoption of DevOps.

‘DevOps’, a combination of ‘Development’ and ‘Operations’, is a software development strategy. It aims to solve human errors in IT management by not only encouraging automation wherever possible but also boosting collaboration between ‘Dev’ and ‘Ops’ teams.

DevOps operates according to a number of key principles and practices, which include:

  • Utilizing automation tools for crucial processes wherever possible
  • Sharing feedback, expertise, and knowledge between departments and teams
  • Maintaining a constant focus on business goals
  • Delivering and testing code incrementally in order to maximize its value and meet customer demands
  • Continually measuring KPIs
  • Utilizing agile planning for the sake of flexibility

Over the last few years, DevOps culture has demonstrated its effectiveness across a multitude of industries and locations. Organizations taking advantage of DevOps practices typically deploy code at a much faster rate than their competitors, with far fewer failed deployments to harm their relationship with customers and clients.

Of course, this is a decidedly abridged account of what DevOps can offer. The real experts – the pros who can use DevOps to fully transform an organization’s IT capabilities – are known as ‘DevOps Engineers’.

These candidates fully comprehend DevOps’ take on the software development lifecycle, doing away with the standard waterfall model for the sake of maximizing efficiency, collaboration, and, most importantly, value. They can head up a DevOps team or even take on a managing role across multiple teams and departments. They will also be intimately familiar with various automation tools, enabling them to greatly reduce time spent on key processes.

The demand for DevOps engineers has been steadily increasing, with listings for DevOps roles on websites like Indeed and Totaljobs appearing regularly. With the growth of DevOps as a practice, developers are becoming far more familiar with the day-to-day issues of operations, but many organizations still require expert help in order to transition away from older management styles. Because of this, studying the methodology is becoming much more lucrative, with the average DevOps engineer salary in the USA being over $130,000.

Unfortunately, there’s just one problem… Nobody is quite sure about how to actually become a DevOps engineer! Indeed, exactly what is required to become an engineer, and even what they do from day to day, is often very much up in the air.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at exactly what you need to know about DevOps engineers.

What Does a DevOps Engineer do?

A standard DevOps engineer job can involve a variety of different tasks, such as:

  • Enabling effective communication and collaboration between departments
  • Re-engineering essential processes as necessary
  • Applying well-practiced knowledge of coding and scripting (though they will rarely build anything from scratch). They will also work with developers in order to address requirements for coding and scripting
  • Reinforcing the connection between technical capabilities and business outcomes
  • Data management
  • Enabling incremental development, testing, and deployment
  • Utilizing various computer programming languages
  • Managing source codes using open-source tools
  • Using holistic knowledge to create integrated plans for integration, development, and deployment
  • Researching popular automation tools to increase efficiency
  • Utilizing agile project management to streamline key processes

As you can see, the role requires a varied set of competencies – but that’s why DevOps engineers stand out. The ability to take charge and streamline an entire IT infrastructure requires solid knowledge of both hard and soft skills, as well as enough experience to be able to apply them practically.

However, the most important part of a DevOps engineer’s role is to be able to utilize this knowledge and experience in the context of the DevOps methodology. This often requires DevOps training, but given the average salary for a DevOps engineer, most find the investment to be well worth the results.

How do I Become a DevOps Engineer?

With most business and IT frameworks, the path to becoming qualified is fairly straightforward. ITIL Experts must pass specific modules, PMP-certified project managers must meet the prerequisites for a specific exam, and so on. With DevOps, however, there is no set path to becoming a practicing professional.

Indeed, DevOps engineers can come from a variety of different backgrounds. It could be that a developer has become familiar enough with network and deployment operations to be able to share practical insight in a managerial capacity. Alternatively, a sysadmin may study tasks relating to the development lifecycle, such as coding and scripting. This, in turn, could help them to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of testing and deployment.

What really matters here is perspective. All DevOps engineers have taken the time to go beyond their own competencies. They work to widen their skill sets and will spend years gaining practical experience in using the hard and soft skills for which DevOps is known. They volunteer for collaborative projects and look for any opportunities to help with work outside of their usual job descriptions.

In other words, ‘DevOps Engineer’ is not a standardized professional. Becoming one is mostly a case of gaining enough experience and insight to be able to effectively market yourself as a DevOps engineer.

That being said, there are quicker ways to become versed in the DevOps methodology than simply relying on experience. Studying DevOps can help you become proficient in the hard and soft skills that drive the methodology, while also providing you with the perspective to bring them all together within a single IT infrastructure.

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