DevOps Engineer? What Is That Supposed To Mean?

Feb 16 2014 | by Jonathan Nimrodi

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A few weeks ago we posted about the evolution of DevOps, from the challenges that created the need for their existence, to the fact that nowadays DevOps completely blurs the once glaring distinction between development and operations. We’ve come to a conclusion that DevOps is not a simple job title, but rather a mindset, a culture. Some would describe it as a whole philosophy.

Soon after, we’ve received loads of messages from DevOps, with them trying to shed light on their culture even more. We’ve been talking to more than a few DevOps in attempt to define their culture and essence, and came across a few interesting notes.

“DevOps Engineer” vs. “DevOps Evangelist”
In contrast to the general consensus about DevOps being part of a culture, some professionals would like to introduce the job title as a “DevOps Engineer”. Those engineers are described as excellent communicators, detail oriented, learners, and pragmatic team players. All those characteristics don’t really sum up to an “engineer” role, but more as soft-skills.

As DevOps is an emerging culture, so is the need to implement the philosophy into organizations in order to save valuable company time and money. The question is how would a DevOp advertise his skills, and how should an organization advertise the need for this skill set?

The main focus of DevOps is automation. As data grows larger than ever, larger computing clusters are needed to manage and process it. The only way to quickly scale infrastructure is by automating the resources allocation process and its management. That’s where the term DevOps Engineer becomes relevant. DevOps will be looking for job openings and engineers seeking jobs will badge themselves as DevOps engineers.

The main concern here is that the companies’ lack of understanding of DevOps will cause this hiring strategy to backfire. DevOps big promise is costs saving, which is achieved through increased productivity, lower time-to-market and optimized resource allocation. However, a side effect to this solution is that what once has been considered hard to do and time consuming now becomes “one click away”. While this makes life easier and increases productivity, it usually results in inflation of resources, redundant allocations and no-claimed “ghost” resources. The only way to avoid that pitfall is to adopt robust costs monitoring and management practices.

Companies that have not adopted Agile or Lean methodology will almost certainly do it wrong. That’s because DevOps are not a profession. It is indeed a philosophy that companies need to adapt themselves to and become “DevOps friendly”. That is why I personally think that if you want to give DevOps and job title, I would go with “DevOps Evangelist” more than with “Engineer”.

keep-calm-and-go-get-a-job

DevOps as an Educational Revolution
So in the heart of DevOps culture stands the idea that people should work as teams together toward common goals, rather than in silos toward local optimization.

Embedding the DevOps culture in an organization can be a serious challenge, especially when the organization has potentially incorrectly identified a direct need for DevOps resource, and hired a bunch of “DevOps engineers” without adopting that agile methodology and without setting tangible business objectives. You need a roadmap for both Operations and Development teams to deliver service and tools. That roadmap will cause a shift in culture.

Think of DevOps as more of an educational revolution. When developers have APIs and a UI to spin their own virtual machines, they now need to expand their knowledge and skill set into what was once solely an IT/Operations domain. Add stuff here about automation,…etc.

You’re more than welcomed to join our new Devops Community on Google plus, “DevOps Rock Stars”, a community that focuses on DevOps discussions, configuration management issues and jokes. Why not join right now?

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