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What Does a DevOps Engineer Do?

Aternity February 19, 2021

As companies seek to embrace DevOps practices, they are increasingly looking to add new skills to their teams. While there are many DevOps roles and positions, from software developers to data analysts, the DevOps engineer has emerged as a critical role in recent years. Data collected by Atlassian shows that nearly 85% of companies face significant barriers when implementing DevOps, with a lack of relevant employee skills being one of the major issues.

Since the software development methodology of DevOps seeks to combine development and operations functions, a DevOps engineer must be capable of bridging gaps between departments and processes. These engineers must work with large extended teams, including project managers, quality engineers, IT personnel, and other stakeholders. The unique skills required of DevOps engineers have made the position a challenging and lucrative career path for those who have developed the competencies.

In this post, we’ll discuss why the role of a DevOps engineer is so crucial for organizations adopting the DevOps methodology. With skills and job requirements that span multiple departments, these positions can take significant work to define and be a true challenge to fill. Companies that successfully develop a DevOps engineer role will have a champion to help reduce software failures and significantly shorten product development cycle lead times.

DevOps Engineer Job Definition

A DevOps engineer is an IT professional who enables the organization’s software development pipelines. They do this by reducing silos between development and operations functions while also managing IT infrastructure. Two central concepts of DevOps are Continuous Integration and Continuous Development (CI/CD). You’ll find that a great deal of a DevOps engineer’s time and effort is spent enabling the use of automation during product development lifecycles.

The specific responsibilities of a DevOps engineer can vary widely between organizations. These differences are partly due to the fact that the DevOps engineer is a relatively new position that is still being developed in some organizations. Other factors contributing to the varied job responsibilities include organization structure, product lifecycle requirements, and strategic priorities. DevOps engineers typically must be familiar with QA testing, IT operations, programming languages, and other disciplines to be effective in their roles.

DevOps Engineer Job Responsibilities

DevOps engineer roles contain a mix of technical and management responsibilities. There is often a desire to also find candidates who have a nice balance between soft skills and technical know-how. Given the operational nature of the role covering work in multiple departments, the DevOps engineer position requires a high level of focus and the ability to juggle many responsibilities. Here are a few of the most common responsibilities DevOps engineers are tasked with:

  • Integrating Components. A company may use a number of different development, automation, and testing tools as part of the software development lifecycle. The DevOps engineer has an important role in integrating these components and ensuring that any issues with IT infrastructure are addressed and improved.
  • Planning Team Activities. Most companies have a series of parallel projects moving through their development pipeline at any given time. A DevOps engineer should be involved in structuring and prioritizing these activities in a way that is optimized for the DevOps framework.
  • Refining Test and Release Requirements. This can include reviewing software code and developing new processes for defining software development, updates, and support. Troubleshooting is often a key part of a DevOps engineer’s daily work and requires effective problem-solving skills.
  • Monitoring the Lifecycle Process. For a company to successfully reduce cycle times during the development process, work must be coordinated in an efficient way. The DevOps engineer may review APIs, libraries, SDKs, and other automation and maintenance tools to find and reduce errors.

Required Skills for a DevOps Engineer

As you can see, the role of a DevOps engineer is complex and covers a range of disciplines and departments. One of the best ways to prepare for a role in DevOps is to develop a wide skillset. Staying informed of the latest technology trends and best practices is an absolute must. These are a few of the most important skills that a DevOps engineer should possess:

  • Expertise in managing Windows and Linux-based operating systems
  • Familiarity with programming languages, such as Python and Perl
  • Management and setup of network servers and storage technology
  • Experience with software product development workflows
  • Familiarity with cloud-based technologies like Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Experience using continuous integration tools, such as Bamboo and Jenkins
  • Experience with infrastructure automation tools, including Puppet and Ansible

As DevOps continues to grow as a leading framework for software development, we are likely to see additional innovation in the roles and responsibilities that support these efforts. Those interested in a DevOps engineering career should get involved in software development pipelines and cloud-based system infrastructures as soon as possible. There is likely to be a growing need for DevOps engineers in the near future and more focus placed on this challenging and vital position.

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