What does it take to become a DevOps specialist?


Enterprises who truly understand a DevOps approach can crucially stay on top of emerging trends.

When it comes to addressing the powerful movement that technology has created – enabling organisations to operate successfully on a global scale – a DevOps approach has never been more critical for a modern-day workforce.

Yet for many, the term can often be viewed as something of a ‘buzzword’ because many enterprises want it but aren’t quite sure how they can deliver it into their own ecosystem. Those who truly understand the power that adopting a DevOps approach possesses, can crucially stay on top of emerging trends and subsequently remain agile in a competitive marketplace.

By its very definition, DevOps has taken many forms and encompasses a variety of highly-skilled job titles, such as ‘systems engineer’ and ‘automation architect’.

In reality, it’s best described as being a set of practices which combine software development and IT operations, enabling the support for the entire end-to-end user experience by shortening the software delivery cycle.

Therefore, for a specialist within this field, they not only have to be technologically savvy but also possess the ability to recognise how their firms can bring everything together – from the architecture right through to the cultural practices.

But what does this exactly mean for modern-day workforces? To provide a much simpler answer, it’s easier to look back at how the ‘traditional’ office infrastructure has developed over the past decade to when the term ‘DevOps’ was first coined.

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The transformation of business operations
Regardless of sector, there has been one common factor which has run throughout enterprises as they began to effectively utilise technology – the premise of the IT department.

Many firms viewed this part of the business as being separate from their everyday operations, despite this often leading to a lack of communication and stinted progress. And for those wanting to develop into a modern-day workforce, they began to recognise that something had to change if they were to survive – and thrive – in a technologically driven landscape.

That meant departments were no longer working in silos, but instead aligning with each other so that they could begin to team up on development projects.

Having a collaborative environment – that was able to work together and representing all stakeholders needs – was proving to be business-critical. Encompassing everything from an organisation’s in-house culture, and customer experience to the latest technology and rollout of software.

Fast forward a decade from when DevOps was born and to where digital-first organisations recognise the importance of the alignment.

Understanding the role that specialists play
With so many job titles effectively coming under the umbrella of DevOps, it can be difficult to pin down what is the key ingredient for a specialist. They not only have to be swift in their decision-making, they must also understand how to streamline technical processes, be agile, and remain collaborative, to name a few.

Whether planning, implementing or deploying, experts should be working on ways in how they can continuously improve their firm’s offerings to benefit the end user. And for a DevOps specialist, that requires them to possess a range of technical skills alongside interpersonal ones too.

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Knowledge of coding
Looking into the complexities that digital intelligence presents, a DevOps consultant should be able to understand the fundamentals of a Windows or Linux operating system alongside the language of code.

That includes possessing the knowledge surrounding scripting languages – programming language designed for integrating and communicating with others of its kind such as Python, Scala, Ruby Pearl and Why Go. A solid ‘hands on’ understanding of code should help a DevOps specialist recognise what will work successfully in production and what issues implementation could manifest.

Security focus
It’s always important to maintain an innovative approach, enabling organisations to bring the next big build or release to the market quickly, whilst ensuring protection has been handled effectively.

Security must be at the front and centre of an organisation’s operations. For a DevOps specialist, this means safeguarding the entire organisation – from implementing the initial strategy, governance, policies, processes and technology right through to the end user’s experience. Every part of the lifecycle should have security built in to cover inception, design, building and testing, releasing, support and ongoing maintenance.

Automation understanding
A leading part of the role of a DevOps practitioner concerns machine-led operations. Truly agile environments will struggle to deliver at speed without leaning heavily on automated systems that prove to be advantageous in business efficiency.

For the successful role of DevOps, they must be the ‘all-seeing-eye’ to ensure that the machines they bring into their workforces are doing exactly what they’ve been told. Automation must operate alongside humans – almost like a pendulum – for an organisation’s development and operations to be successful.

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Agile capabilities
Today’s modern-day tech firms have a lot to withstand if they want to prevail in a complex marketplace. From digital unpredictability to riding the immense sea of change that online transformation presents, enterprises must now embrace flux and react positively to its challenges and opportunities. For a DevOps specialist, those attributes are no different.

Not all projects and deployments go as smoothly as anticipated so these employees have to move on from these situations quickly and seamlessly, if they are to succeed. They must also keep abreast of emerging trends, be willing to upskill, and keep business and customer focus at the forefront throughout.

Maintaining a collaborative environment

Managing the end-to-end process across multiple stakeholders – and having an empathetic approach throughout – in order to understand exactly what both the developer and operations want to achieve from the desired outcome, is critical for anyone working in a DevOps role to master.

In addition, positive collaboration-based skills enable experts to bring together leadership and team building – alongside the support and delivery of an organisation’s software deployment or new build.

Overall, there are many facets that make up a successful DevOps operation – and those operating within this space. Identifying a business’s needs, understanding maintenance and knowing how to implement automated upgrades make up one side of driving a better customer experience. The other half is the role in which softer skills play, such as agility and empathy.

To be successful within DevOps means possessing all these attributes – and utilising each one effectively – so that development and operations work seamlessly together.

It’s not a simple role to undertake but it can bring an immense array of rewards in terms of professional success, work-life balance and many skills that are highly sought after – and transferable in the tech landscape.

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