DevOps—or the smooth integration of development (Dev) and operations (Ops) teams to more effectively create high-quality software—is evolving as the tools change. The popularity of cloud deployments, for instance, requires a new set of skills from engineers.
If you’re a backend developer interested in adopting DevOps practices, you need to know the latest tools for achieving them. This article will explore those trends and what skills you need to become a DevOps engineer in 2022.
Previously, the development team worked on coding and shipping app features while the operations team worked on deploying and maintaining that app in production. Those separate, siloed operations caused conflicting interests, inefficient workflows, and slower time to market.
To address those difficulties, the DevOps movement was born. It enables teams to collaborate with each other and with stakeholders, frequently using automated processes, to deliver software.
DevOps pushes many traditional system administrators' responsibilities to DevOps engineers, where scripting and programming skills are required to build automated and repeatable cloud deployments.
According to Microsoft, DevOps is “the union of people, process, and technology to continually provide value to customers.”
An organization can achieve valuable business outcomes with DevOps.
Lower time to market: DevOps techniques utilize tools and technology to deploy, rollback, and monitor software in different environments. Automating processes allows you to quickly ship software to your clients, helping them stay competitive.
Cost reduction: Using automation for infrastructure and code helps you save labor time and costs. You can devote that time to other deliverables instead. It’s also easier to tear down non-production environments when they aren’t needed.
Trustworthiness: Automation is repeatable and trustworthy, cutting down on human error.
If you’re interested in becoming a DevOps engineer, you’ll need to master a combination of technical and soft skills.
As a DevOps engineer, you enable the connection between development and operations, which means that your technical skills need to address both.
System administration: You’ll be responsible for provisioning, maintaining, and monitoring different server environments that host critical production functionalities, either in the cloud or on-premises. This means you’ll need Linux, Unix, or Windows system administration skills.
Cloud deployments: Many organizations are moving to more cloud-native and PaaS deployments due to the lower infrastructure and administrative overhead. Learning to deploy to different cloud services is crucial. Your organization may use Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP), so make sure to know the appropriate cloud stack.
Infrastructure as code (IaC): IaC enables you to express your entire cloud infrastructure as code instead of configuring each cloud resource manually. You can build repeatable, predictable, and transparent deployment artifacts for your organization, making your whole DevOps process more powerful.
There are a number of tools you can use to do this:
- In AWS, use CloudFormation
- In Azure, use Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates or Bicep
- In GCP, use Google Cloud Deployment Manager
You should also learn Terraform, a cross-cloud tool that enables you to reuse your IaC skills across different clouds.
Networking: As you deploy different resources to different environments, you’ll need to route traffic in a specific way, configure gateways to external clients, and restrict access to critical resources. You’ll need to know networking concepts such as virtual networks, IP addressing, load balancers, traffic managers, and DNS managers.
Security awareness: As a DevOps engineer, you’ll need to ensure that the basic security requirements for an application are addressed, certificates are current, static application security testing (SAST doesn’t raise any critical issues, and infrastructure resources are secured using networking controls. This is known as DevSecOps.
Many organizations employ a security expert to handle requirements beyond the standard DevOps skill set.
Automation tools: Since DevOps is mainly about implementing repeatable processes that deliver value quickly and efficiently, automation tools are vital. You’ll need to know pipeline tools such as Azure DevOps, AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodePipeline, Google Cloud Build, and other open-source tools such as Jenkins.
Scripting: Most of the automation in DevOps is implemented using the tools mentioned above. However, sometimes you’ll need to write your own automation logic. You’ll need to be familiar with automation scripting languages such as Bash, Perl, Python, or PowerShell.
Source control: Experience with source control tools such as Git is crucial for DevOps engineers. Automation pipelines are usually triggered by listening to push actions in different source control branches. For example, you can configure a pipeline tool to push code to your testing environment whenever there is a push to the test branch. You can tag and version your deployments based on source control tagging.
Designing deployment strategy: Each new software deployment to production is risky. You’ll be responsible for implementing different deployment strategies based on the business need. For example, ring deployments allow you to gradually roll out functionality to different groups of users. You can manage these types of deployments using feature flag tools such as LaunchDarkly or Flagship.
Cost management: Using cloud resources costs money. A small code change can make or break your budget. To protect against unexpected costs, you’ll need to set up alerts and resource budgets in consultation with the responsible business sponsor and cloud architect.
Monitoring skills: Remember that what can go wrong will go wrong, per Murphy’s Law. Your application might crash because of bugs, cloud vendor outages, or poor infrastructure configuration. You’ll need to identify critical services to monitor, so that you get alerts and notifications whenever there are problems.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to learn all these programs. A good strategy is to master specific tools from a particular ecosystem. For example, if you have a Microsoft background, learn Windows Server OS (and maybe Linux as well), PowerShell, and Azure DevOps.
There isn’t much value in learning tools from different vendors that perform the same function. Learn the overall concepts, and you’ll be better able to switch vendors later on as needed.
It’s a good idea to validate your skills with industry certifications. Here are a few of them:
- Exam AZ-400: Designing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional
- Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer
As a DevOps engineer, you’ll deal with stakeholders including app developers, cloud architects, and business people. You’ll need a range of soft skills to communicate and collaborate with those stakeholders.
- Agile and scrum: Agile and scrum workflow techniques are designed to deliver continuous value to the client through efficient team task management. They nicely complement DevOps methods, which aim to deliver continuous value from the technological side.
You’ll need to know agile and scrum practices so that you can implement the strategies that best deliver value, according to what’s requested by your product owner.
Communication and writing skills: You’ll be responsible for designing processes to be repeatable and predictable. To do this, you’ll need to document and explain the processes so that team members can understand and execute them. This requires not only good writing skills, but the ability to clearly articulate explanations and instructions.
Planning skills: In DevOps, it’s common to face multiple conflicting deployment requests. You’ll need to plan and analyze these deployments with different stakeholders to avoid downtime and poor performance in your application.
DevOps is more than a buzzword—it’s a profound cultural and technological shift in the software industry. As you pursue your DevOps goals in 2022, keep in mind that you’ll need to combine technical skills such as system administration, IaC, and automation with soft skills such as agile methodologies, communication, and planning.
One of the automation tools you can rely on is Qovery. The cloud-agnostic platform helps you quickly build, integrate, and deploy your apps, and it’s designed to optimize your DevOps practices. It offers easy scalability and a large, helpful community. To learn more, check the documentation.
Disclaimer: I am co-founder of Qovery