Career / Career Progression

Intro to DevOps

by Team Nuggets
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Published on October 25, 2023

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, imagine you're working in a bakery. The recipe-makers and the bakers don't work in the same place and 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.

Recipe makers, with only a limited understanding of the bakers' constraints and capacity, might make recipes of the wrong level of complexity or timing or not be 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 who write code and develop 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 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 you can learn and bring to your existing job. We've gathered a collection of teaching resources about DevOps to help you get started.

Introduction to DevOps Principles Playlist

The best way to learn DevOps is to start with its principles. So here's a free video playlist that introduces DevOps, explains the core concepts, and discusses 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 career. 

This free video training playlist on DevOps principles is only the start. There are much more advanced DevOps pieces of training 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. After that, everything 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 working separately, these teams are 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 share information, understand each other's needs, and work 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 time for more important work.

  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): CI/CD is a DevOps principle that radicalizes technology and habit. Its 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. However, an important DevOps principle is implementing network and system infrastructure by code wherever possible. This is impossible in a bakery, but code can define, configure, and implement systems in a software-defined environment. That makes it possible to automate their creation and management.

  • Monitoring and Feedback: None of the 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 a critical 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 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 a popular automated testing tool. Selenium supports automated web application testing across many browsers and platforms. DevOps professionals can ensure consistent and reliable software performance by recording user interactions and playing them back.

  • 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 training—it's the natural place to get an introduction to the concepts, tools, and methodologies. DevOps training is the place to start 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.

What Gets Covered in a DevOps training?

DevOps training tends to fall into one of three categories: first, training that teaches the abstract concepts related to the DevOps process; second, training that teaches mastery of a tool associated with DevOps; and third, training that explains 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 DevOps training on Docker, which is a container and automation tool that's integral to many organizations' DevOps methods.

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 excellent training, especially for DevOps professionals who already understand DevOps basics and are moving on to 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. Training like that teaches how Cisco's APIs and infrastructure are unique and how DevOps skills get incorporated into Cisco networks.

Are There DevOps Certifications?

There are DevOps certifications, usually provided by hardware and software vendors. The third category of DevOps training mentioned above (how vendors integrate DevOps practices) tends 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 training can help you prepare for an exam. Still, the really good training includes 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 exclusively dedicated to DevOps can be challenging because a company typically needs to be of a certain size to justify hiring an exclusive DevOps professional. 

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 the right time.

DevOps Careers

Even though the methodology of DevOps is approaching 15 years old, it's still relatively young regarding job titles and careers. 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 and an even more difficult collection of tools and technologies to implement into an existing company's operations. DevOps's complexity and challenges make it a large career field with many possibilities. Companies are looking for IT professionals who can explain DevOps and help them incorporate its principles and tools into their workflow. You could have a whole career doing precisely that.

After all this, you've hopefully got a rough sense of DevOps 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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