Becoming a DevOps Engineer: What You Need to Know

Shaiyon Pathmasri

By Shaiyon Pathmasri

The growing demand for continuous delivery and rapid development has given rise to one of the most sought-after roles in the software industry: the DevOps engineer. As companies embrace DevOps practices to streamline their operations and automate processes, the need for skilled DevOps professionals has never been greater. If you're looking to embark on a career in DevOps engineering, or simply want to upskill in this domain, there are several key concepts, skills, and tools you'll need to know to find the right DevOps job for you.

Understanding DevOps

Before you start your journey as a DevOps engineer, it's important to familiarise yourself with the core tenets of DevOps and understand why it has become such a popular approach to software development.

DevOps has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its ability to streamline software development and deployment processes. By breaking down barriers between development and operations teams, DevOps encourages collaboration and communication, ultimately leading to faster and more reliable software releases.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a software development approach that emphasises collaboration, communication, and integration between software development and IT operations teams. It's a cultural shift that seeks to break down silos and promote cross-functional teams that can work together seamlessly to deliver software faster and more reliably.

DevOps is more than just a set of practices or tools - it's a mindset that encourages continuous improvement and a focus on the end user. By prioritising collaboration and communication, DevOps teams can work together to identify and resolve issues more quickly, leading to a better user experience and increased customer satisfaction.

The Importance of DevOps in Software Development

In today's fast-paced business world, software development teams need to be able to deliver new features and fixes to customers as quickly as possible. DevOps helps enable this by eliminating bottlenecks and reducing the time it takes to deploy code to production. By adopting a DevOps approach, organizations can improve their software quality, reduce downtime, and ultimately gain a competitive advantage.

One of the key benefits of DevOps is its ability to automate repetitive tasks, such as testing and deployment, freeing up developers and operations teams to focus on more strategic initiatives. This automation not only speeds up the development process, but also reduces the risk of errors and improves overall software quality.

Key Principles of DevOps

At its core, DevOps is all about agility, collaboration, and automation. Some of the key principles that underpin the DevOps methodology include continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), infrastructure as code (IaC), and monitoring and logging.

Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) is a software development practice that involves regularly merging code changes into a central repository and automatically deploying those changes to production. This approach helps ensure that code changes are thoroughly tested and validated before being released to end users.

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is another key principle of DevOps, which involves managing infrastructure through code rather than manual processes. This approach allows teams to easily replicate environments and ensures that infrastructure is consistent and reliable across different environments.

Finally, monitoring and logging are critical components of DevOps, as they enable teams to quickly identify and resolve issues in production. By monitoring key metrics and logging system events, DevOps teams can proactively identify and address issues before they impact end users.

Essential Skills for a DevOps Engineer

Being a successful DevOps engineer requires a diverse set of skills, including technical, soft, and collaboration skills. However, there are many other skills that are also important for a DevOps engineer to possess.

Technical Skills

As a DevOps engineer, you'll need to have a deep understanding of various technologies and tools used in software development and IT operations. Some of the essential technical skills include proficiency in coding languages, automation tools, and cloud technologies.

A DevOps engineer should be well-versed in coding languages such as Python, Java, Ruby, and JavaScript. They must also be familiar with automation tools like Ansible, Chef, Puppet, and Jenkins. Additionally, they should have a thorough understanding of cloud technologies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Having knowledge of databases, networking, and security is also crucial for a DevOps engineer. They should be able to troubleshoot issues related to these areas and ensure that the software is secure and scalable.

Soft Skills

In addition to technical expertise, DevOps engineers must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to collaborate effectively with different teams, stakeholders, and customers.

DevOps engineers must be able to communicate clearly and concisely with developers, testers, and other IT professionals. They should be able to explain complex technical concepts in simple terms and be able to listen actively to others' concerns and ideas.

Having a positive attitude, being a team player, and being open to feedback are also essential soft skills for a DevOps engineer. They should be able to work well under pressure and be adaptable to change.

Collaboration and Communication

Collaboration and communication are critical to the success of DevOps teams. As a DevOps engineer, you'll need to work closely with developers, testers, network engineers, and other IT professionals to ensure that all aspects of the software development process are integrated and automated.

DevOps engineers must be able to work collaboratively with others, share knowledge and ideas, and be open to feedback. They should be able to build strong relationships with stakeholders and customers and be able to communicate effectively with them.

Continuous Learning and Adaptability

The DevOps landscape is constantly evolving, and it's essential to stay up-to-date with new tools and techniques. Successful DevOps engineers are always learning and adapting to new technologies and methodologies to stay ahead of the curve.

DevOps engineers should be proactive in seeking out new learning opportunities, attending conferences and workshops, and staying up-to-date with industry trends. They should also be able to adapt quickly to changes in technology and business requirements and be able to apply new knowledge and skills to their work.

DevOps Tools and Technologies

In the world of DevOps, there are several tools and technologies that you'll need to know. These include:

Version Control Systems

Version control systems are an integral part of any DevOps team. They enable teams to manage and track changes to source code collaboratively. Git and SVN are two of the most popular version control systems used in DevOps. Git is a free and open-source distributed version control system that is widely used in the industry. SVN, on the other hand, is a centralised version control system that has been around for a long time.

Using version control systems like Git and SVN, teams can collaborate on code changes, track changes made by different team members, and revert to previous versions of the code if necessary. This helps ensure that the codebase remains stable and reliable, and that changes are made in a controlled and organized manner.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) Tools

CI/CD tools are essential for DevOps teams to achieve continuous delivery and ensure higher software quality. These tools automate the process of building, testing, and deploying code to production. Jenkins and Travis CI are two of the most popular CI/CD tools used in the industry.

Jenkins is an open-source automation server that is used to automate the building, testing, and deployment of software. It supports a wide range of plugins that enable teams to integrate with other tools and technologies. Travis CI, on the other hand, is a cloud-based CI/CD tool that is easy to set up and use. It provides a simple and intuitive interface for building, testing, and deploying software.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Tools

IaC tools are used to manage cloud infrastructure and automate the deployment of infrastructure resources. Ansible and Terraform are two of the most popular IaC tools used in DevOps.

Ansible is an open-source automation tool that is used to automate IT tasks such as configuration management, application deployment, and cloud provisioning. It uses a simple and easy-to-understand language called YAML to define automation tasks. Terraform, on the other hand, is a tool for building, changing, and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. It enables teams to define infrastructure resources as code, which can be versioned and shared like any other codebase.

Monitoring and Logging Tools

Monitoring and logging tools are essential for DevOps engineers to monitor their systems and identify potential issues. Nagios and ELK Stack are two of the most popular monitoring and logging tools used in the industry.

Nagios is an open-source monitoring tool that is used to monitor the health and performance of IT infrastructure. It provides a centralised view of the entire IT infrastructure and alerts teams when issues are detected. ELK Stack, on the other hand, is a collection of three open-source tools: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. It is used for log management and analysis, and provides a powerful and flexible platform for collecting, searching, and visualising log data.

DevOps Certifications and Training

DevOps has emerged as a critical methodology for software development, deployment, and operations. As more organisations adopt DevOps practices, the demand for skilled DevOps professionals has increased significantly. If you're looking to get started in DevOps engineering or upskill in this domain, there are several certifications and online training programs available to help you achieve your goals.

Popular DevOps Certifications

DevOps certifications can help you validate your knowledge and skills in this field. Some of the most popular DevOps certifications include:

  • Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA): This certification is designed for professionals who want to demonstrate their expertise in managing Kubernetes clusters.
  • Certified DevOps Engineer (CDE): This certification is offered by the International DevOps Certification Academy (IDCA) and covers a wide range of DevOps concepts and practices.
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional: This certification is designed for professionals who want to demonstrate their expertise in deploying, managing, and operating applications on the AWS platform using DevOps practices.

Online Courses and Training Programs

Online training programs can help you develop the technical skills and learn the tools necessary to become a successful DevOps engineer. Some of the popular online courses and training programs include:

  • Udemy: Udemy offers a wide range of DevOps courses, covering topics such as Docker, Kubernetes, Jenkins, and AWS.
  • Pluralsight: Pluralsight offers a comprehensive DevOps learning path, which includes courses on DevOps culture, continuous delivery, infrastructure as code, and more.
  • edX: edX offers a variety of DevOps courses from top universities and institutions, including courses on DevOps tools, principles, and practices.

Benefits of DevOps Certifications

Obtaining a DevOps certification can help you demonstrate your expertise in this field and make you more competitive in the job market. It can also help you gain recognition from peers, employers, and customers. In addition, DevOps certifications can help you:

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest tools and technologies: DevOps is a constantly evolving field, and certifications can help you stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies.
  • Improve your collaboration skills: DevOps emphasises collaboration and communication between teams, and certifications can help you develop the soft skills necessary to succeed in this domain.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of DevOps principles: Certifications can help you gain a deeper understanding of DevOps principles and practices, which can help you implement them more effectively in your organisation.

Becoming a DevOps engineer requires a combination of technical, soft, and collaboration skills, as well as staying abreast of the latest tools and technologies. If you're interested in developing your career as a DevOps Engineer, get in touch with one of DevOps recruitment specialists.