DevOps Engineer Job Roles and Responsibilities
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By now, everyone understands that DevOps is not a technology, but more of an ideology. The latest definition of DevOps is CALMS, which stands for Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, Sharing — all the pillars and ideologies that DevOps is based on. Within DevOps, the role of DevOps Engineer has been a topic of discussion at forums worldwide. This blog intends to demystify this role and give you an overview of what it entails.
Challenges in finding the right DevOps Engineer
While the growth of DevOps has given rise to many new job roles and titles over the years, at the pinnacle of DevOps sits the DevOps Engineer. Interestingly, DevOps Engineer has today become the most challenging job role to fill, owing mainly to two reasons. Firstly, some amount of ambiguity still exists around the tasks that comes under the ambit of a DevOps Engineer. Secondly, there is increased need to develop software in lesser time, with the need for frequent changes and modifications. This requires an iterative learn-as-you-go format of software development. Most organizations these days are reinventing their development cycles to make them more iterative and agile. They also invest in specific tools to ensure faster and better deployment with minimal errors. This has led to the creation of specific job roles across the development lifecycle.
Who can become a DevOps Engineer?
Since there is a dearth of quality DevOps Engineers in the world, it is a lucrative skill to develop, if you have the right aptitude and inclination towards it. So, who can ideally become a DevOps Engineer? Two kinds of people:
- Developers who, in the course of their career, become interested in deployment and network operations.
- System admins who develop the passion for scripting and coding, and want to move in that direction.
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DevOps Engineer Job Descriptions
A strategic sweep of DevOps job descriptions across the world reveals that there is a pressing need for two types of DevOps roles:
- Broad spectrum DevOps roles
- Targeted DevOps roles
Some of the DevOps Engineer job descriptions require candidates to have competencies around specific tools that can be mapped to specific stages in the DevOps lifecycle. For instance, a job description of a global multinational seeks candidates with Jenkins Administration, Jenkins Docker as well as Jenkins HA skills, along with knowledge of Java or Python, and ability to perform Merging, Branching and Configuration Management of SCM systems. Another multinational requires candidates to have 2+ years of experience in Maven and Ant.
Relatively smaller organizations seek candidates with broad spectrum skills such as: Knowledge of Build Systems – Maven and Ant, Binary Repository Manager – Nexus, Deployment – IBM uDeploy, Scripting – Python, and OS – CentOS. Some of the more specific requirements include knowledge of Shell scripting and containerization tools like Docker. Certain organizations look for specialized skills such as experience with Ansible Playbook, Continuous Integration tools, specifically Jenkins, ability to debug in a Linux environment using CentOS, and working knowledge of security principles – server security, file systems and access control.
This is how a few of the recent DevOps Engineer job descriptions for top recruiters in the Indian subcontinent and the US look currently:
DevOps Engineer – the superhero every organization needs
A recent article in Forbes refers to a DevOps engineer as ‘a company changer’. According to the magazine, “DevOps engineers ensure the system is running smoothly and being monitored, and they can respond to issues as they arise. The DevOps engineer ensures that your developers are never doing repetitive tasks, and that the infrastructure is kept up to date as the stack evolves. As processes change and the company grows, the DevOps engineer automates as much as possible to accelerate work. Because of DevOps, developers can focus on their core work so you can deliver products earlier and more reliably.”
Role of BPR
While the secret sauce to becoming a top-class DevOps Engineer has not been fully discovered yet, organizations worldwide have begun identifying a few skills, a mix of which can help you evolve into an indispensable DevOps Engineer. These include:
- Business Process Re-engineering
While proficiency in Java, Python, Ruby etc. will be a great help in migrating to or initiating a DevOps Engineer role, understanding Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) is an equally important skill to have. BPR is simply the analysis and redesign of workflows in an organization to optimize business processes. BPR is aimed at helping organizations dramatically improve operations and customer service, and cut operational costs.
However, the Collaboration aspect of a DevOps Engineer’s job is best understood by what Kelsey Hightower, Operational Head of Puppet Labs says: A DevOps Engineer encapsulates depth of knowledge and hands-on experience. This person blends the skills of the business analyst with the technical expertise to build the solution. Also, he/she knows the business well, and can look at how any issue affects the entire company.
DevOps Engineer Job Trends
According to Indeed Job Trends, the average salary for DevOps Engineers in the US is 90% higher than salaries for all tech job postings worldwide. As of September 2016, the base salary for a DevOps Engineer stands at a healthy $110,000. These numbers are only expected to go up, as quality DevOps Engineers are becoming a rare commodity with every passing day. According to a recent study, DevOps Engineer is globally the number one hardest job role to fill.
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What it takes to become a top-class DevOps Engineer
A top-class DevOps Engineer should ideally possess the following qualities in order to have a flourishing career:
- Ability to use a wide variety of open source technologies and tools
- Ability to code and script
- Experience with systems and IT operations
- Being comfortable with frequent, incremental code testing and deployment
- Strong grasp of automation tools
- Data management skills
- Understanding and focus on business outcomes
- Understanding and efficiency in collaboration, open communication and reaching across functional borders
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