Intro to DevOps
DevOps is a popular term in the IT world. It refers to a management and organizational approach to making and releasing software.
Simplifying the Concept of DevOps
To understand it simply, imagine you're working in a bakery. The recipe-makers and the bakers don't work in the same place, and they don't talk often. The recipe-makers don't know what ingredients the bakers have available, how many ovens of what size they have, or how many mixing bowls they can use.
The recipe-makers, with only a limited understanding of the constraints and capacity of the bakers, might make recipes of the wrong level of complexity or timing – or aren't aware of how the bakers prefer to operate. Importantly, the mismatches aren't the fault of the bakers or the recipe-makers – it's the way they're siloed and managed.
In the IT world, DevOps is trying to address that bakery problem. In IT, the recipe-makers are software developers writing code and developing applications. The bakers are the operations staff who maintain and configure the equipment and hardware to run the apps and deliver them to the users.
When development and operations are separated, they're less efficient, productive, and innovative. DevOps challenges that and says that teamwork, communication, and the right tools can drastically improve productivity and profitability.
For IT professionals, DevOps is a young and growing career field to jump into. It's also a set of practices and principles that you can learn and bring to your existing job. We've gathered a collection of learning resources about DevOps to help you get started.
Introduction to DevOps Principles Playlist
Starting with the principles of DevOps is the best way to learn it. So here's a free video playlist that introduces DevOps, explains the core concepts, and explains career possibilities.
Shawn Powers walks you through version control, automation, configuration management, containerization, and much more – all the building blocks of DevOps. You can watch the videos in order, or you can skip around to the topics that interest you the most.
As Shawn walks you through the technological and conceptual pieces of the DevOps puzzle, consider whether or not DevOps is something you could apply in your own career.
This free video training playlist on DevOps principles is only the start: there are much more advanced DevOps trainings that you can take, whether you want to be a DevOps professional or get better at using DevOps in your day-to-day job.
What are the Basic DevOps Concepts?
The absolute basics of DevOps try to shorten development and improve overall product quality. Everything after that is in service to those goals and improves overall business agility.
DevOps Basics, Defined
DevOps is a method for technologically combining the development side of a company with its operations. But it's also a management technique for integrating their scope and responsibilities so that the people themselves aren't working in silos. To do that, there are essential DevOps principles that need to be explained:
Collaboration and Communication: The most important DevOps principle is breaking down the walls between development and operations teams. Rather than having those teams work separately, they're encouraged to collaborate closely in DevOps. No matter the shape or structure of the company, a basic DevOps principle is that development and operations should be sharing information, understanding each other's needs, and working together to solve problems.
Automation: Another fundamental DevOps concept is identifying as many repetitive tasks as possible and finding ways to automate them. Automation is an essential DevOps principle because it speeds up processes, reduces errors, and frees up time for more important work.
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): CI/CD is a DevOps principle that is a radical marriage of technology and habit. CI/CD's purpose is to keep software updates flowing smoothly. With technology and workflows that enable a shared codebase, software updates can be tested continuously. At the same time, new features and fixes can be released to users more frequently and reliably.
Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Traditionally, servers and networks were set up sort of like our fictional bakery from before: by hand. But, an important DevOps principle is to implement network and system infrastructure by code wherever possible. This is literally impossible in a bakery, but in a software-defined environment, code can define, configure, and implement systems. That makes it possible to automate their creation and management.
Monitoring and Feedback: None of the above DevOps concepts work properly without continuous monitoring. Monitoring applications and infrastructure in real-time means developers and operations teams can catch and fix issues quickly. Feedback loops are an important DevOps principle, helping teams learn from their mistakes and continuously improve their processes.
DevOps for Beginners
One of the things that makes DevOps difficult is that it's an all-encompassing practice that an entire organization needs to implement together. DevOps isn't something that one person can simply start doing.
Nevertheless, DevOps beginners have to start somewhere. Below, we list some tools that make DevOps possible. This isn't an endorsement of these tools over others, simply a list to explain to DevOps beginners what sorts of tools accomplish what:
Git for Version Control: Versioning is the backbone of DevOps, and Git is arguably the most popular version control software in the world. Git is a version control system that tracks changes to code. With Git, multiple people can collaborate on projects – it keeps a history of changes and makes it easy to revert to previous states if needed.
Selenium for Automated Testing: Monitoring user behavior and capturing usage data is essential to DevOps, and Selenium is one example of a popular automated testing tool. Selenium supports automated web application testing across many browsers and platforms. By recording user interactions and playing them back, DevOps professionals can ensure consistent and reliable software performance.
Jenkins for Continuous Integration: Even when working on small codebases, introducing new code can have disastrous results on existing infrastructure. That likelihood goes way up with more developers and bigger projects. Jenkins is used to build, test, and deploy code changes. That ensures new code integrates smoothly with existing code and helps teams catch issues early.
AWS CloudFormation for Infrastructure as Code: Straight from AWS, CloudFormation is used to define and provision cloud infrastructure, like servers and databases, in a structured way. Code templates make maintaining consistent and repeatable infrastructure setups simple and fast.
These are a tiny fraction of the software that IT professionals getting started in DevOps should know. You don't have to become an overnight expert in every DevOps tool, but if you want to participate in DevOps, you should start learning what the tools do and how they do it. From there, imagining how to implement it into your workflow gets closer.
Is There DevOps Training?
The best way to get started in DevOps is with online DevOps training – it's the natural place to get an introduction to the concepts, tools, and methodologies. Whether you're applying for a job with a company that needs a DevOps professional or want to learn how to implement it into your current workflow, DevOps training is the place to start.
What Gets Covered in a DevOps training?
DevOps trainings tend to fall into one of three categories. First, DevOps trainings that teach the abstract concepts related to the DevOps process. Second, DevOps trainings that teach mastery of a tool that's associated with DevOps. Third, DevOps trainings that explain how a certain hardware or software vendor integrates DevOps practices into their system.
DevOps trainings that teach concepts or mindsets tend to be focused on beginners. The CBT Nuggets Intro to DevOps training is one: using the same videos you'll find in the free video training playlist above, the training covers DevOps concepts, jobs, and tools. Other CBT Nuggets trainings explain how to use systems monitoring tools and techniques, or what REST APIs are. Those are fundamental skills that any DevOps professional will eventually need to master.
In the second category, CBT Nuggets has a DevOps training on Docker, which is a container and automation tool that's integral to many organizations' DevOps method. If you take that training, you'll dive deep into understanding containers and container images, integrating Docker with cloud networks like Azure and AWS, and automating its use with Python. It's an excellent training, especially for DevOps professionals who already understand DevOps basics and are moving on to the stage of implementing specific tools and technologies into their organization's pipeline.
The last category is training like the Cisco Certified DevNet Professional training. It's meant for DevOps professionals who work with Cisco hardware. A training like that teaches how Cisco's APIs and infrastructure is unique and how DevOps skills get incorporated into Cisco networks.
Are There DevOps Certifications?
There are DevOps certifications; they're usually provided by hardware and software vendors. The third category of DevOps trainings mentioned above (how vendors integrate DevOps practices) tend to prepare IT professionals for them. The vast majority of DevOps-related certifications are about a certain tool or a certain vendor's ecosystem.
For example, Microsoft Azure is a robust development platform with many options and opportunities for efficiency and optimization. The Microsoft Azure Solutions Development is a DevOps certification training that covers configuring Azure sites, machines, and services to optimize efficiency. The DEVNET Associate from Cisco is a DevOps certification that covers the skills and knowledge necessary to develop and design software within the Cisco ecosystem, integrating APIs and automating the behavior of the entire platform.
DevOps certifications often challenge your familiarity with a large platform or development ecosystem. DevOps trainings can help you prepare for an exam, but the really good trainings include opportunities to practice what you're learning in virtual simulations or put DevOps knowledge to use with real-world practice.
Careers in DevOps
Finding a career that's exclusively dedicated to DevOps can be challenging because in order for a company to be able to justify hiring an exclusive DevOps professional, they typically need to be of a certain size.
Sometimes, DevOps is a methodology you apply in the limited constraints of your existing job, but occasionally, you can find job listings for standalone DevOps professionals. Being trained in DevOps can mean being prepared for when the time is right.
Even though the methodology of DevOps is approaching 15 years old, it's still relatively young as far as job titles and careers are concerned. What a certain job title entails isn't universally accepted, and narrowing down the field of career options can be challenging for someone who wants to work in DevOps. Here are some of the job titles that seem to be most universal in DevOps:
DevOps Architect: This is usually a mid-career IT job. DevOps architects tend to define, plan, and shape a structured solution for incorporating DevOps practices into an organization. A CBT Nuggets survey revealed that the national average salary for a DevOps architect is $91,800.
DevOps Manager: DevOps managers tend to liaise between development teams, IT operations, and management, balancing the objectives and values of each while trying to incorporate and implement DevOps technologies and practices. The national average salary for a DevOps manager is $103,700, according to CBT Nuggets research.
DevOps Engineer: There's very little about what a DevOps engineer does, but they tend to be highly experienced cloud and IT professionals who can select, plan, and implement DevOps solutions for an entire organization or sprawling operation. CBT Nuggets found that the national average salary for a comparable role of Cloud Engineer is $107,200.
DevOps is a challenging concept to define, and an even more difficult collection of tools and technologies to implement into an existing company's operations. DevOps's complexity and challenge make it a large career field with many different possibilities. Companies are looking for IT professionals who can explain DevOps to them and help them incorporate its principles and tools into their workflow, and you could have a full career doing exactly that.
After all this, you've hopefully got a rough sense of what DevOps is and how to start looking into DevOps careers. But maybe you're thinking DevOps isn't right for you – there are many other fields of IT you might consider. See our Intro to IT trainings and see if there's another category of IT that suits your skills and interests.
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