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7 traits you need to be a successful DevOps engineer

7 traits you need to be a successful DevOps engineer

As businesses look to build a culture of collaboration and unity between their IT function and operations, many are turning to DevOps as a better process for building, testing and releasing software. 

What is DevOps?

As the blend of the two words ‘Development’ and ‘Operations’ suggests, DevOps is about uniting the best practices of software development and IT operations as well as intertwining responsibilities at every stage of a project. 

DevOps practices such as automation, continuous integration and improved collaboration help development and operations improve efficiency and deliver increased value to customers. 

The DevOps movement has only recently found a place in organisations but is quickly becoming a mainstream strategic approach for IT operations; 25% of Global 2000 organisations said they use a DevOps approach (Gartner). 

In a lot of organisations, the person at the heart of managing and deploying this approach is the DevOps Engineer (interchangeable with SysOps or Platform/Cloud/ Automation  Engineer); an expert in deploying cloud technologies who often takes responsibility for the new approach. As more businesses look to adopt DevOps, the niche skills associated with the role are becoming more desirable and commanding high salaries.

Here we detail the seven skills you need to be a successful DevOps Engineer. 

What skills do you need as a DevOps engineer?

Acting as the bridge between IT operations and development (or product) teams, a successful DevOps Engineer will need a mixture of technical and soft skills. 

Technical skills

1.    Familiarity with infrastructure automation tools 

After the conceptual vision and getting processes right, the next big decision is tooling. A DevOps approach uses infrastructure automation tools such as Puppet, Ansible, SaltShack and Chef to speed up some previously manual processes. Experience in using one or more of these tools gives DevOps engineers a head-start when looking for a new job.

2.    Understanding of code

You don’t have to be a software developer but being able to write scripts and understand code in multiple languages like Ruby and Python is a real boon for any DevOps engineer. 

3.    Knowledge of Continuous Integration

As one of the key DevOps methodologies, Continuous Integration (CI) can track build changes and defects and give clarity to support teams. As a result it provides DevOps engineers with a real-time window into the software being developed. There are numerous tools like Jenkins and CruiseControl that any DevOps engineer should be familiar with but understanding CI and Continuous Delivery (CD) processes is also key. 

4.    Containers

Containerisation is a godsend for development teams with multiple skills, allowing developers to code apps in their favourite languages and for DevOps engineers to tie together the infrastructure for them, be that in Kubernetes or Docker. Every cloud provider is working to enable management of different container platforms and this is very likely to remain a huge part of PaaS (Platform as a Service).

Soft skills

5.    Communication & collaboration 

To break down the silos of development and operations, good communication and a collaborative approach are vital. 

Being able to communicate effectively with different stakeholders and understand the current challenges and the ‘big picture’ in the organisation is the first step to being able to build a strategy to implement culture shifts. 

6.    Flexibility 

Sitting between different teams with different priorities, all working on critical systems, there will inevitably be situations where there will be more than one task that is urgent and needs attending to. Keeping a cool head, juggling fluid workloads and remaining flexible is one of the keys to success in the DevOps Engineer role.

7.    Decision making 

In a busy environment, the ability to make the right decision quickly, while keeping in mind the big picture goals, is an extremely desirable trait employers are looking for in DevOps engineers.