Understanding the Role of a DevOps Engineer

Gravatar for eduardo@messuti.io

Eduardo Messuti

Founder and CTO

January 19, 2024

Understanding the Role of a DevOps Engineer

The DevOps market surpassed $8 billion in 2022 and isn't expected to drop anytime soon. However, 64% of companies struggle to fill DevOps roles. The reason for this shortage is that DevOps professionals are a rare breed, as their role requires both hypertechnical and broad skills.

The DevOps engineer role is pivotal to the stabilization of the modern economy, and every organization relying on software must have a clear understanding of DevOps principles and practices and what makes them so vital to organizational success.

Below, we'll dive into the role of a DevOps engineer, the required skills, and what types of DevOps tools are necessary to meet the heavy demands of an increasingly precarious online environment.

Defining the Role of a DevOps Engineer

The word DevOps combines "development" and "operations." A dedicated DevOps process attempts to build a continuous delivery workflow through tools, collaboration, and automation, meaning a pipeline that leads to rapid, incremental changes to company software. The goal of a DevOps engineer is to increase both the speed and quality of software implementation.

Establishing this process requires DevOps professionals to understand which tools best apply to optimize the efficiency of software operations. For example, knowing which tools automate key processes and produce insights for future production and rollouts yields more secure software updates, successful product launches, and better user experiences.

Think of a DevOps engineer as a highly skilled middleman, but one that companies aren't looking to eliminate. Their primary responsibility is collaborating between operations and development teams to coordinate and implement changes to company software. They build, manage, maintain, and enhance software products, seeking to establish an agile software development process that can undergo rapid updates and seamless DevOps transformation.

Ultimately, the role of a DevOps engineer is hard to define, given the profession is multidisciplinary. Additionally, much of the expertise comes from DevOps skills learned outside the classroom. The DevOps career path is unorthodox, and only those highly dedicated to learning DevOps techniques make it a career.

Main Responsibilities of a DevOps Engineer

If there is a group that truly wears many hats, it's the DevOps community. Here's a look at all the tasks involved in managing a DevOps pipeline on any given day.

Building and Maintaining Infrastructure

DevOps engineer skills are developed through constructing and performing upkeep on software. DevOps professionals are responsible for various construction and maintenance projects like:

  • Deploying and monitoring company networks and servers
  • Writing, reviewing, and testing software code
  • Overseeing network tools like physical servers, switches, and data storage devices
  • Overseeing cloud-based infrastructure
  • Implementing and analyzing software systems, networks, and servers for security threats

Remember, throughout the DevOps life cycle, engineers also bear the responsibility of communicating changes to operations, security, and development teams. Proper communication has a huge impact on operational efficiency and increasing user safety.

Automating Tasks

Automation lies at the heart of successful software operations. DevOps pros function as the architects of how companies integrate automation tools to improve software performance.

First, this requires the ability to identify the tasks for automation. For example, automating certain software tests, like regression and API tests, helps save tons of time and labor. DevOps engineers must understand how to successfully navigate the journey from manual processing to automation. Likewise, they must know what shouldn't placed under the care of automation, like exploratory tests.

The whole philosophy of continuous delivery/continuous improvement hinges on a business's ability to reimagine and implement automation processes. Identifying which areas benefit from automation requires knowledge of KPIs.

For example, tracking incident resolution times and escalation rates reveals how scripting specific communication tools can trigger automated responses and alerts that reduce incident resolution times.

Monitoring and Troubleshooting

DevOps engineers spend much time in the digital watchtower, looking for bugs, glitches, or security gaps. However, proper monitoring requires more than manually sifting through source code to pinpoint issues. Software moves and fluctuates so fast that DevOps engineers need the right tools to automate the monitoring process and build in troubleshooting responses that help continuously analyze and resolve issues.

Mainly, it's about keeping the finger on the pulse of software health and using foresight to see where potential vulnerabilities lie. Then, they can plan to eliminate them before hackers discover them.

Collaborating and Communicating With Developers and Operations Teams

A strong DevOps approach begins with the topography of the digital landscape. This includes awareness of evolving security risks, new tools, and being in touch with user expectations concerning software experience. However, creating and maintaining outstanding software takes a village, and DevOps is the glue that holds all parties together. On any given day, DevOps professionals communicate with:

  • Development teams
  • Operation teams
  • C-suite executives
  • Key stakeholders, consumers, and third-party users

Cross-departmental communication is more than sending an email. It requires developing messaging and explaining complicated concepts to parties with varying levels of time and understanding. It also requires setting goals and gathering information to communicate how or if they are met.

Essential Skills and Expertise of a DevOps Engineer

A successful DevOps engineer needs technical skills and soft skills. DevOps professionals don't just implement tricky technical tasks like code releases. They must also communicate effectively between development and operations teams.

Proficiency in Coding and Scripting Languages

Code is software's foundation. So, DevOps professionals must have fluency in many code and scripting languages, whether it be Java, Python, Golang, or Terraform.

A weak or limited understanding of coding leaves businesses open to major security threats, like SQL injections, bugs, and glitches. Because of this, engineers must understand how to perform code analysis. But it also requires knowing proactive security methods, like obfuscation techniques to boost code integrity.

Knowledge of Automation Tools and Techniques

Love it or hate it, companies using automation will outpace any business running software operations on manual efforts alone.

DevOps engineers stand at the confluence of technology, humans, and business success. As such, DevOps professionals must understand how to analyze a CI/CD pipeline, select what has automation potential, and then implement the best tool for the job.

For example, when considering source code management, testing, and development, certain automation tools will lend a more helping hand in achieving efficiency and security than others.

Understanding of Deployment and Monitoring Strategies

DevOps pros must always analyze everything from a top-level vantage point. Seeing the larger picture and choosing the most efficient deployment strategy instills consistency, resulting in fewer errors, downtime, and security risks.

Another benefit of a strategic approach is the ability to build routine processes that reduce deployment chaos by establishing preestablished controls and guidelines around deploying in various environments and conditions.

Finally, thoughtful deployment and monitoring should include tools that track effectiveness and KPIs. This way, DevOps engineers can tweak strategies over time to increase quality and collaboration.

Tools and Technologies for DevOps

Successful DevOps practices combine skills and disciplines to increase communication and collaboration, resulting in a better user product. To aid this process, DevOps engineers require resources, like tools for optimizing software deployments and updates, automating tasks, gaining deeper KPI visibility, and improving incident communication. There are many great open-source monitoring tools for building pipelines with continuous feedback, server monitoring, and simplified request flows.

Likewise, DevOps professionals must have access to integration, software testing, and incident communication optimization tools. For example, DevOps teams need an incident priority matrix, which allows businesses to manage requests more effectively by applying severity levels and collaborating across teams to resolve issues before they turn catastrophic.

Allow Your DevOps Teams To Communicate Effectively During Incidents

DevOps is no easy profession. However, the stress that comes with the job largely depends on the quality of tools in play. DevOps teams need resources that allow them to succeed in their highly complex and rapidly changing environment, from automating software releases, tests, and maintenance to security threat detection.

DevOps success hinges on quick, effective communication — especially when it comes to tracking, reporting, and solving incidents. Proper incident communication tools help DevOps teams notify the right people quickly, collaborate effectively, and keep all parties informed, from initial detection to final resolution.

StatusPal helps businesses level up incident awareness strategies by automating monitoring tactics and issuing alerts, resulting in quicker reaction times. On average, our clients reduce incident resolution times by two hours after implementing our cutting-edge solution.

Looking to equip your DevOps team with the best tools for competing in the modern digital landscape? Consider taking our services for a spin and register for a free trial today.

Gravatar for eduardo@messuti.io

Eduardo Messuti

Founder and CTO

January 19, 2024

Eduardo is a software engineer and entrepreneur with a passion for building digital products. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years and has experience in a wide range of technologies and industries.
See full bio

Getting started

Ready to Create your Status Page?

It only takes seconds. Prices start at $46.

The free 14-day trial requires no credit card and includes all features.