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How to be a specialist talent in devops

Tracing back to 2007, the DevOps movement began when the software development and IT operations communities raised concerns about the traditional software development model, whose demerits included developers who wrote code worked apart from the operations team who deployed and supported the code. The term DevOps is the combination of the words development and operations that reflects the process of integrating these disciplines into one continuous process.

Table of Contents

  • What Is DevOps?
  • Who Is A DevOps Engineer?
  • Why The Need For A Specialist For DevOps?
  • What Are The Technical Skills Required To Be A Specialist In DevOps?
  • The DevOps Lifecycle
  • Non-Technical Skills of DevOps Engineer

What is DevOps?

Development and Operations – These two teams merged into a single team where the engineers work across the entire application lifecycle from development and test to deployment and operations.

DevOps is not a tool, not software, definitely not a programming language. It is more of how a team takes a product/app/service that they are designing or developing and takes them to millions of people who can benefit from it.

Who is a DevOps engineer?

DevOps engineers merge expertise in coding, testing, integration & project management to optimize the software development life cycle.

DevOps engineers facilitate various aspects of development and operations by taking on several roles throughout the process. They make sure the company stays on track in delivering on project goals. They ensure consistency in making code changes and deployments of new versions of software to various environments.

The best DevOps engineers understand how to step back and see the big picture. They also know how to assess individual functions in a process and make them work more efficiently.

Why the need for a specialist for DevOps?

DevOps engineers enable rapid delivery of applications, much faster than traditional software development lifecycle models. This rate of delivery helps companies stay competitive in the market. Adding to rapid delivery, DevOps engineers help in quick innovation by allowing the faster release of updates, in creating resilient systems and fault-tolerance using CI/CD, real-time monitoring, towards scaling applications through integration with the cloud.

What are the technical skills required to be a specialist in DevOps?

As technology advances, numerous DevOps tools have been developed to make the DevOps process (collaboration and development) easier. DevOps tool also enables teams to automate most of the software development processes like build, conflict management, dependency management, deployment and helps reduce manual efforts. The following table comprises the curated list of the major DevOps tools.

The DevOps lifecycle:

DevOps lifecycle starts with the planning stage, following which we have the IT teams developing the product/solution. This is then accompanied by monitoring and finally culminates with continuous feedback. All these sets of processes form a loop with continuous feedback helping again in the planning. Hence the name continuous is a recurring theme in the entire lifecycle.
Each stage of the life cycle requires mastery of a different set of tools to be a competent DevOps engineer. Let us dig deep into these tools based on each stage,

1. Planning

Planning involves effective management of product backlogs, assignment of feature development to the right person, scrum meeting schedules etc.

Right from prioritizing the features to allocating the right features to the right person, planning tools must empower a DevOps engineer to effectively manage the lifecycle at its early stages and help integrate feedback from later stages seamlessly into the subsequent releases. These are enabled by tools such as Jira, Asana, Atlassian, Confluence etc. These tools contribute to making the software development process agile & iterative.

2. Continuous Development

Continuous development covers under its gambit four key operations. They are Continuous Integration, Continuous Testing, Continuous delivery and continuous deployment. Each of these operations plays a pivotal role in managing the lifecycle.

3. Continuous Integration

When multiple developers are working on a single project, different parts of code are written by different people. In projects like these, there is a chance that two people working on the same section of code can work on previous versions of code.

Continuous Integration is one of the core stages of the whole DevOps lifecycle.  It is a software development practice in which the developers are required to commit changes to the central repository more frequently. Jenkins is a very popular tool used in this phase.

4. Continuous Testing

During this stage, the developed software is tested continuously for bugs. Automation tools such as JUnit, TestNG, Selenium are used. These tools allow the Quality Assurance team to test multiple code-bases thoroughly to ensure that there is no flaw in the functionality.

5. Continuous Monitoring

Continuous Monitoring is an automated process in which DevOps personnel can observe and detect compliance issues and security threats during each phase of the DevOps pipeline. Tools such as Nagios, Splunk, Sensu, ELK Stack, and NewRelic are used by the operations team to monitor user activities. As a result, during continuous monitoring, developers can proactively check the overall health of the system.

6. Continuous Deployment

Continuous Deployment is a software release process that uses automated testing to validate if changes to a codebase are correct and stable for immediate autonomous deployment to a production environment. The finalized application code is deployed to the production servers. Configuration Management is a key process in this phase, and it carries out the precise deployment of application code on all servers. Some mainstream tools utilized in this stage are, for example, Chef, Puppet, Ansible etc. Containerization tools also play an essential role in the deployment phase. Vagrant and Docker are popular tools that are used for this purpose.

7. Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback is essential to ascertain and analyze the outcome of the application. It sets the tone for improving the current version and releasing a new version based on stakeholder feedback. Continuity is the essential factor in DevOps as it removes the unnecessary steps which are required to take a software application from development, using it to find out its issues and then producing a better version.

8. Continuous Operation

The last phase of the DevOps lifecycle and the purpose of continuous operation is to automate the process of releasing the application and the following updates. All DevOps processes and operations depend on continuity with complete automation of the release activity and permit the association to accelerate the overall time to market continuously.

Non-Technical skills

  • Collaboration and Communication

Communication is sharing or exchanging information such as sending an email, conversing with a colleague in the break room or lobby, and messaging, these are only a few ways employees communicate at work. Conversations are mostly work-related but usually include happenings of daily life. Communication does not always contribute to collaboration, but collaboration cannot happen without communication. A team cannot pursue a goal together without exchanging knowledge and ideas. In an organization, employees with diverse experience and ideas collaborate to achieve an objective more effectively. Instead of working separately, group members discuss matters along the way, posing questions and giving feedback. Everyone applies and shares their skills throughout a project’s duration to achieve greater results than the sum of their individual work.

  • Problem Solving

Problem-solving is one of the most in-demand skills among employers, especially in DevOps. These individuals aren’t just troubleshooters, they take the time to properly identify and define a problem, gather data to avoid making assumptions, and consult with experts from diverse backgrounds to find creative solutions.

DevOps professionals are constantly identifying and solving problems. Problem-solving requires the individual to be part detective, part scientist to identify the root cause and then mitigate the problem.

  • Empathy

Empathy in DevOps is all about putting oneself in the shoes of colleagues as well as clients. Suggesting new ideas is much easier in an understanding and friendly environment.

Does DevOps have a promising future?

According to the Xpheno report which analysed niche tech skills, DevOps engineers in the 5 – 8 years experience category obtained a hike of 50 – 70%, across diverse sectors such as IT products, GICs & IT services etc. Research by Global Market Insights shows some promising numbers for DevOps’ future: DevOps market size exceeded $4 billion in 2019 and is slated to grow at over 20% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) between 2020 and 2026.

The transition of the role

DevOps roles are starting to develop into DevOps 2.0 or BizDevOps, where the business stakeholders are taking an active part in building these products. Employees/Professionals from multifarious backgrounds namely Support function, Product Support Experience are now transitioning into the DevOps role.

Alternative career path for DevOps Engineer

  • DevOps Architect
  • Software Test Engineer
  • System Engineer, Automation engineer
  • Cloud engineer
  • Security engineer
  • Integration engineer
  • AWS web services engineer
  • Release engineering manager.

Certification Courses for DevOps Engineer

  • DevOps on AWS (Coursera)
  • The Complete Kubernetes Course (Udemy)
  • Configuration Management with Chef, Ansible and Puppet (Simplilearn)
  • Docker Certification Training Course (Edureka)
  • Continuous Delivery and DevOps (Coursera)

A community for DevOps Engineer

  • Facebook Community – DevOps Community, Site Reliability Engineering Certified Professional, DevOps School
  • LinkedIn Community- DevOps Certified Professionals, AWS – Azure – Google Cloud – Certified Professionals
  • Slack Community – Azure Stack blog, Kubernetes, HangOps
  • Reddit Community – DevOps Subreddit


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