Career Insight

What is a DevOps Engineer?

Every software you know and use has been created using a Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). In the traditional tech organization, two teams are tasked with completing the SDLC: the software development team plans and builds the software, and the operations team tests and implements it.

While the operations team looks for any potential bugs, the software development team can potentially remain idle or move on to a different project. In many instances, operations teams will provide feedback to the software development team that may not be addressed in a timely manner. The bottleneck of tasks and inefficiencies in the process can result in costly delays.

The solution is the DevOps engineering approach, which minimizes the shortcomings of the traditional SDLC by encouraging the development and operations teams to collaborate more effectively. At the heart of this continuous and efficient approach is the DevOps engineer. These tech professionals use a set of soft and hard skills along with their vast knowledge of automation tools to ensure the development and operations teams perform at their best.

The DevOps Engineering Approach

The DevOps approach is all about undoing the barriers and confusion in traditional SDLCs. Think of DevOps as an infinity sign, which symbolizes continuous delivery and constant activity. In it, you’ll find that companies are able to adapt to changes faster, develop updates quickly, and deliver finished products with fewer issues. The DevOps approach is executed using specific automation tools and in several phases. The uninterrupted movement between phases is known as the continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. These DevOps phases include:

DevOps CI/CD pipeline infographic

  • Planning: The development team formulates a plan while prioritizing the project’s objectives
  • Coding: The development team produces the software’s code
  • Building: The development team uses the code to execute the software
  • Testing: The build is sifted for any potential bugs
  • Deployment: Once tested, the build is launched by the operations team
  • Operations: The software is now in use by the intended environment
  • Monitor: The operations team evaluates the software’s performance and sends any feedback back to the planning stage

The DevOps Engineer

The DevOps engineer is in charge of implementing and maintaining the effectiveness of the DevOps process. They are professionals who must recognize the reasons for why an organization must move away from its previous software development process and adopt the DevOps approach. DevOps engineers need a complete understanding of the Software Development Lifecycle, the phases of the CI/CD pipeline, and the automation tools needed to see it through.

Because DevOps engineers often enter an environment in which teams work together but don’t necessarily share as much information as they should, their job is to enhance communication and collaboration between the software development and operations teams while overseeing the testing and deploying process. As a central figure in the DevOps process, DevOps engineers can help foster a culture that embraces new ideas and amplified learning by introducing new practices, technologies, and tools into the environment.

The Skills

The DevOps job is about delivering products in an efficient manner, in short periods of time, and with seamless collaboration among different departments. This requires a set of technical and soft skills including:

  • Coding: The development world is all about coding and DevOps engineers need to be masters of it, especially when it comes to languages such as Python, PHP, JavaScript, Bash, Node.js, and Java.
    Automation: Automation is at the core of DevOps — it’s one of the major components of its efficiency. DevOps engineers must then be capable of automation and automating the DevOps process in its entirety.
  • Acceleration: The goal of DevOps is to deliver products at a faster rate, adapting to business conditions, outages, and other roadblocks without missing a beat. It’s the DevOps engineer’s job to meet these expectations accordingly.
  • Security: In an environment where speed is important, security cannot be overlooked. A DevOps engineer must know how to complete builds in a timely manner while reducing risks and ensuring security guidelines are implemented at all times.
  • Tools: Different tools are used throughout the phases of the CI/CD pipeline. DevOps engineers must understand and utilize them accordingly. Some of the most common DevOps tools include:
    • Git and GitHub: source code management tools
    • Jenkins: an automation server
    • Docker: a software containerization tool
    • Selenium: used for automation testing
    • Chef: used to deploy and in configuration management
    • Nagios: a monitoring tool
    • Kubernetes: a container orchestration system
  • Communication: Ensuring the effectiveness of collaboration between teams requires excellent communication skills which the DevOps engineer must undoubtedly possess.

Becoming a DevOps Engineer

The path toward a career as a DevOps Engineer begins with experience in software development and system administration. Both fields will equip you with fundamental knowledge on some of the most important aspects of the DevOps environment.

Through software development, you will understand the Software Development Lifecycle — the different stages between planning a product and releasing it to the masses. Not to mention, this is where you’ll lay the foundation for your coding experience with knowledge of programming languages and the role they play in a software’s performance.

With a background in system administration, you will learn to manage, monitor, and support the activities surrounding IT infrastructure in an organization. You will also learn what it’s like to interact with end users, maintain records of assets, and brainstorm upgrades that benefit an organization’s systems.

Additionally, becoming a DevOps engineer requires experience with cloud infrastructure, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, both of which are extensively used in DevOps. As with any job, there can often be hurdles to overcome. As a DevOps engineer, you may experience times in which the lack of communication, collaboration, and resistance to change can hinder the organization’s ability to progress. Becoming a DevOps engineer means you’ll need the patience, determination, and know-how to work through these challenges.

Are DevOps Engineers in Demand?

The short answer is a resounding yes! Think of it this way: companies can’t afford to stall or slow down in their software development processes — if they do, they’re literally losing money. As more companies shift their development process toward the DevOps engineering model, the demand for DevOps engineers will continue to rise. According to a 2021 DevOps Institute report, 60% of organizations are looking to bring DevOps engineers into their ranks.¹ Much like many other fields in tech, the demand is high but the supply of capable professionals is low.

Get There With Kenzie

Developing your skills is one of the most important steps toward achieving a career in tech, such as DevOps engineering. A career like this requires you to be fluent in a programming language and learn the fundamentals of software development. Kenzie Academy can help you create that foundation.

With our Full-Stack Web Developer Certificate (MERN) Program, you will learn how to navigate full-stack development and gain a deep understanding of the Software Development Lifecycle. Our Software Engineering Certificate Program helps you master software engineering fundamentals in a project-driven environment and teaches you Java, one of the most popular programming languages. These program outcomes provide the platform to build on and create the experience you need for a career as a DevOps engineer. If you’re ready to get started, apply today.


¹ DevOps Institute, “2021 Upskilling Enterprise DevOps Skills Report” on the internet at https://insights.devopsinstitute.com/hubfs/Automation%20Downloads/Upskilling%202021-Enterprise%20DevOps%20Skills%20Report.pdf?utm_campaign=Upskilling%202021&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=121425890&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8Cj74GN1Jbf2p9NPmTGuUya1m5LSvlybLW5ciT-XUhuW4NlesObWAidVOahKkK-9XUBVrcz_GjA22YVPUo3QEEeGabzQ&utm_content=121425890&utm_source=hs_automation (Viewed Sept. 19, 2022).

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