DevOps has become one of the hottest jobs in tech. It’s no surprise then that everyone wants to be a DevOps engineer or hire a DevOps engineer. The question you may ask is what do I need to know to nail a DevOps engineer job? The truth is it’s not a simple answer.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the skills and applications that are in demand right now. You’ll also find information on the main platforms you need to know how to use, including Linux and PowerShell scripting, CI/CD tools, and Infrastructure as a Code (IaaC). We’ll also discuss QA integration into your DevOps processes.
Let’s first get to know the roles and responsbilities companies expect you to complete as a DevOps engineer.
DevOps Engineer Roles and Responsibilities
As a DevOps engineer, your employer will expect you to be able to know how the entire software development life cycle runs. You’ll also need to know where in the life cycle you’ll need to play a vital role.
That’s why your DevOps skills should focus on automating manual tasks. You can use pipelines within the CI/CD process to achieve this and drive efficiency. You’ll also need to remain up-to-date on release and deployment management.
After deployment, you’ll need to be able to monitor the applications, checking for unexpected behavior. At this stage, communication skills are a major plus since you’ll be working with teams across the company. When you learn to have effective communication across teams, you’ll be able to deliver clearer and more concise communications. You’ll also fully understand their needs and asks. That’s why communication might be the most important skill you should learn.
Now, let’s get into the 5 most important technical skills you’ll need to have to perform DevOps tasks. First, let’s get started with the DevOps foundation–the platforms you need to know how to work with.
1. In-Depth Knowledge of Popular Platforms
Most companies are using a system type known as platform as a service (PaaS) to automate tasks. By far, the most popular platforms to handle cloud computing are AWS and Azure DevOps. That said, AWS ranks #1. Both platforms are self-contained in many aspects. That allows you to run everything you need from them without having to use anything else.
It’s going to be vital that you know either one, if not both, to become a stronger DevOps engineer. Amazon and Microsoft offer training courses and certifications you can benefit from to improve your skill set. While the platforms are fundamental to know, the absolute foundation for the DevOps role is to know Linux and PowerShell scripting. We’ll discuss that next.
2. Command Strong Linux and PowerShell Knowledge
Companies are increasingly hosting their infrastructure on Linux-based systems. That’s why it’s becoming more important to know the Linux command line. You’ll also need to know how to perform all kinds of commands and navigate your way around file structures.
For the Microsoft shops, you’ll need to know Powershell. That said, the great thing about PowerShell is that it incorporates all the commands you know and love from Linux. Then, PowerShell adds in its cmdlets and function piping, allowing for a very robust experience.
Writing scripts is also very vital to the DevOps engineer role. You’ll need to be able to write scripts to automate manual processes and speed up delivery and efficiency. As far as coding goes, scripts are your best friend.
3. Acquire Pipeline and Infrastructure Skills
Knowledge about pipelines for CI/CD processes is essential. The majority of the work you do is to build and maintain pipelines. These are automatic processes that elevate code from one environment to the next as you develop application features. AWS and Azure have built-in pipeline features. That said, you’ll find many other applications that offer CI/CD processes, like GitHub, GitLab, Jenkins, etc., that you can integrate into your systems.
To be able to build CI/CD pipelines, you’ll need to know how to use YAML to code out your pipelines. In some instances, though, like Azure DevOps, you’ll find optional classic pipelines, which are GUI-based. These pipelines also run on a drag and drop basis to create automated pipelines. Having said that,you aren’t confined to just coding out pipelines; you also have infrastructure.
Below is a list of essential CI/CD tools for DevOps engineers.
Top 10 CI/CD Tools for 2022
Now that we’ve reviewed the CI/CD tools, let’s jump into IaaC.
4. Master Infrastructure as a Code (IaaC) Tools
IaaC is becoming the go-to tool for building out cloud-based and on-prem infrastructure, like virtual machines, databases, etc. HashiCorp’s Terraform is one of the leading programs to do this. .
Terraform allows you to write code to specify what types of resources you’d like to create, and then deploy them through AWS, Azure, and others. You can reuse the code and store it as a template. That, in turn, allows you to achieve greater shareability.
Terraform has a unique state, which allows you to track your resources over release and deployments. IaaC benefits include changeless infrastructure, speed of delivery, cost controls, and risk mitigation.
The below IaaC tools are essential for any DevOps engineer to keep handy. You don’t need to know them all, but knowing 1 or 2 is essential for your skillset and your career growth potential.
The Top 10 IaaC Tools for 2022
- AWS CloudFormation
- Azure Resource Management (ARM)
- Google Cloud Deployment Manager
Now, let’s jump to our final section: integrating with QA teams.
5. Communication Skills for Integrating with QA
Many DevOps teams focus on CI/CD processes, release management, server migrations, and more. That said, it’s also important that you integrate with QA teams to build out QA solutions and integrate these into your automation pipelines.
If your company is moving towards DevOps integration, you’ll need integration and communication skills to reach out to QA teams early. You often also want to ensure that any existing testing frameworks can integrate well into the DevOps process.
Keep in mind that no QA process can become 100% automated. That’s why in your DevOps framework development, you’ll need to use your skills to build manual testing into your framework. That’s because not all users are going to follow the designated testing paths. Your communication skills will help you work closely with QA. That, in turn, will help them develop edge case testing and other unusual paths that users could take.
You also want to be able to build out POC testing pipelines that can be integrated into main pipelines or remain stand-alone. It’s a good practice to allow QA leads to be able to build out their testing pipelines to meet testing needs. That way they can also share the DevOps knowledge and processes you communicate. As teams become more remote, knowledge sharing is becoming more important than ever.
The pandemic has changed the way we work over the past 2 years. Remote work has also emphasized the role DevOps engineers play. The top 5 most important skills you need to succeed as a DevOps engineer in 2022 include mastering the main platforms, like Azure DevOps and AWS. You also have to develop an in-depth knowledge in Linux and PowerShell command lines. You should also become a master at using CI/CD and IaaC tools. Finally, you’ll need to develop your communication skills to integrate with QA in order to build better pipelines.
Does Azure DevOps integrate with non-Microsoft tools?
Yes and no. Many companies using Azure Devops are usually Microsoft shops using .NET and C#. Non-Microsoft tools don’t integrate well with Azure DevOps since Microsoft products are generally proprietary.
Do DevOps engineers need to monitor application performance?
It depends on your company, but the more skills you have, the better engineer you’ll be. That also means you’ll have more opportunities available to you. You can use many great tools to monitor application performance.
Why is IaaC suddenly so important?
It has always been important. That said, recently, as production efficiency has increased, so did the need for human-readable, reusable, shareable infrastructure. That has also become crucial for cloud and on-prem computing.
Is cross-training beneficial for DevOps?
Yes. Many DevOps engineers come from the Ops background and may not have programming experience. Since DevOps combines Development and Operations, it’s vital to have teams cross-train to fill in gaps and build up important skills. In IT, the more skills you have, the better candidate you’ll become.
What’s the difference between imperative and declarative in IaaC tools?
Imperative gives specific commands on how to reach the infrastructure state you desire. Declarative defines how the infrastructure should be. Then the tool figures out what it needs to do to execute it.
Azure DevOps and IaC: Brainstorming Practices and Process
Learn more about how Azure DevOps and IaaC play together here.
What’s Hot in CI/CD Software Delivery Pipelines
Explore the latest trends in CI/CD pipeline solutions here.
Apps and DevOps: Where Does QA Fit In?
Learn more about the advantages of including QA into your DevOps processes early on here.
Terraform 101: A beginner’s guide for ARM template lovers
Check out how Terraform can transform your infrastructure here.
Ansible: Introduction to this Open-source Automation Platform
Learn more about how Ansible can help you with your auto deployments here.