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Seven Skills You Need to Succeed in DevOps

Dev Ops is all about collaboration. While technical proficiency is vital, Dev Ops hiring managers are also looking for the softer management and communications skills.

A CA technologies survey on ‘What Smart Businesses Know about Dev Ops’ revealed a desire for non-technical skills such as:

  • Knowledge of business priorities/strategies/metrics (47 per cent)
  • Knowledge of current business processes (42 per cent)
  • Communications skills (36 per cent)
  • Project management (30 per cent)
  • People skills (30 per cent)

On the technical side of things, programming and scripting capabilities featured at 24 per cent. Interestingly, experience with specific tools for areas such as provisioning configuration management, release automations or Agile/Lean came absolutely last, at 12 per cent.

The soft skills every Dev Ops engineer needs

Get to the point, regularly: Information sharing sits at the core of what you’re trying to achieve. That means being able to share knowledge, status and strategy clearly and concisely. Sitting on information makes you a bottleneck – and a bad Dev Ops engineer.

Tune in: You’re not the only one trying to get a job done. By demonstrating your ability to understand that your co-workers also have challenges in their roles, you’ll be doing your bit to enhance the sense of teamwork. A little empathy goes a very long way – and it will be good will in the bank for you when it’s your turn to feel under pressure. Or when it comes to a promotion.

Be a collaborator: Take a leaf out of the open source development book and use communication tools such as IRC or other chat clients. Try Hubot, a Node.js app used on GitHub that can help keep teams informed from one central location, in close enough to real-time to be useful. Check out ChatOps – a term attributed to GitHub that’s become the latest trend in Dev Ops – for more on what’s being termed ‘conversation-driven development’. This is all about modifying chat bots with plugins and scripts to automate tasks, collaborate and generally work better together.

Bend, don’t break: Your ability to go with the flow and change as circumstances, knowledge and conditions do will single you out as a good Dev Ops engineer. Whether the challenges are technical or driven by business needs, your ability to be flexible or explore alternatives when the going gets tough or you realise you’ve made a mistake will stand you on good stead with your colleagues.

And some of the more desirable technical Dev Ops skills

In addition to the soft skills that will help you to stand out with tech hiring managers, some of the most desirable Dev Ops skills include:

Coding/scripting: These are vital for automating testing and deployment.  Not everyone needs to be a programmer, but the more skills you have, the more value you bring to the business (and your paycheque). If you’re coming at Dev Ops from a Systems Administrator background, scripting is a key skill – Python or Ruby, Bash or PowerShell, what you choose to get to grips with is less important that your ability to make them work. If you’re coming from a software development background, your ability to handle the day-to-day operation of the software you develop is equally important.

Process re-engineering: Your ability to examine, understand and re-engineer business and IT processes, to map and evaluate them according to business requirements, is what makes you special. Operations experts that can bring their knowledge of production environments to the design, test and staging party are highly valued.

Head into the cloud: Cloud deployments/administration and distributed systems are growing features of most business IT architecture. A good Dev Ops knows how to work within that infrastructure. An even better Dev Ops has a big picture view of systems, over and above the component parts and tasks at hand; understanding how everything interacts as part of a broader system is a valuable skill.

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