DevOps and Road To Tech Leadership

Andrew Weaver
April 19, 2022

Whilst DevOps is a relatively new role it’s one that allows visibility across the whole operation, making it an excellent route towards achieving senior tech positions.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a development strategy that bridges the gap between software development and IT operations. It aims to develop an agile relationship between the two, so that organisations can create and release regular updates to their products much quicker than using the more traditional ‘waterfall’ development model.

So, DevOps engineers (and DevOps teams) sit in between development and deployment, making sure that everything is geared towards releasing updates as efficiently as possible. Ultimately, it’s about collaboration and removing barriers to it.

The importance of CI/CD

Continuous Integration and Continuous Development (CI/CD) are two concepts fundamental to DevOps – they’re what marks DevOps implementation out from more traditional strategies. Whereas waterfall methodologies worked on a linear timeline with one stage following the other, companies using DevOps run these stages concurrently in a sort of infinite feedback loop.

The benefits this offers are considerable – if done well, you can deploy several times per day using a DevOps approach, without your users having to download anything or take any further action at all. They might not even notice that anything has changed.

In today’s fast-paced environment, this type of development is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a luxury. If you’ve yet to make the switch, it’s seriously worth considering.

What is a DevOps engineer?

Often, you’ll find the term ‘DevOps engineer’ is used to refer to any DevOps practitioner, regardless of whether they’re an engineer in the traditional sense or not.

To give you a useful general definition, a DevOps engineer is an IT professional who works with software developers, system operators and admins, IT operations staff and others to oversee and/or facilitate code releases or deployments on a CI/CD basis.

How do DevOps engineers do this?

To achieve this, DevOps engineers take on a range of day-to-day responsibilities. These include:

  • Project management: in some cases, DevOps engineers take a lead managing the whens, wheres, hows, and whos of an IT project, making sure everyone’s clear on objectives, aware of major deadlines, and in regular contact
  • Designing and improving IT infrastructure: your core infrastructure might be holding you back. A DevOps engineer can identify how you can improve this to encourage collaboration and, ultimately, get your releases to market quicker.
  • Performance testing and benchmarking: evaluating how well and reliably systems run is a key part of a DevOps engineer’s day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Automation: are your releases slowed down by important but repetitive tasks? One of a DevOps engineer’s major roles is to reduce hours spent here by automating these and building useful software plugins that will lighten your software team’s load.
  • Optimizing release cycles: are you losing valuable time because of how your release cycles are structured? DevOps engineers look for ways to optimize your release cycles, remove hidden time drains, and introduce new ways of moving the process along (new software, for example).
  • Monitoring and reporting: one of a DevOp engineer’s roles is to provide feedback from production to reduce ‘time to detect’ (TTD) errors and ‘time to minimize’ (TTM) them.
  • Security: security-focused DevOps, or SecDevOps, is a set of best practices aimed at keeping security central to all DevOps processes. This includes automation of key processes, release schedules and infrastructure design.

What skills does a good DevOps engineer have?

DevOps is the glue that links your various IT functions together. Bearing this in mind, it’s just as important to focus on the ‘soft’ skills a DevOps engineer brings to the table on top of their technical knowledge.

Your DevOps engineer will be running meetings, setting the schedule for releases and leading the review process, as well as getting hands-on with automation, complex software tools and infrastructure design – so look for someone who’s an impeccable organizer with strong interpersonal skills. Unsympathetic, unapproachable DevOps engineers struggle with the ‘getting everyone talking to each other more’ aspect of the role, no matter how great they are technically.

Background-wise, you can find good DevOps engineers from all walks of IT life. You could, of course, look for someone who has only ever been a DevOps engineer – though as the discipline is relatively young (12-ish years old), this might limit your options somewhat.

Both former software engineers and IT operations staff (for example sysadmins) can make fantastic DevOps engineers, with their experience elsewhere in the IT function providing real-world knowledge that can inform their cooperation between the two better.

We work with lots of ambitious DevOps aiming to progress their career and we understand the skills required for you to achieve the career you deserve. For more information about how CTO Academy help please visit our website.

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