Top DevOps Skills Developers and Managers Need for Success

Having the right skill set for any job is a key ingredient when it comes to setting yourself on your career path. In the DevOps world, collaboration between developers, business and operations can be quite challenging as each group must work closely with others and play well in the proverbial sandbox.

As the tech industry evolves, enterprise IT has migrated from the model of monolithic applications that support employee, partner and customer spheres of the business to one that is more modular and distributed in their structure. Businesses not only leverage the cloud to host their mission-critical applications but as part of the infrastructure for continuous integration and software delivery. DevOps is becoming mainstream and there is a high demand for business professionals and developers who can support an enterprise’s DevOps transformation of application development and operation teams.

Think it’s easy? It’s not. Transforming businesses to adopt DevOps can be a huge undertaking. Keeping pace with technology isn’t simple and enterprises may struggle to catch up and stay competitive. Indeed, in the 2019 DevOps Institute’s Upskilling Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, 45% of 993 respondents said their enterprise has a hybrid or a mix of legacy and cloud-based IT setup. Only 14% reported having a completely modern setup (cloud, serverless, etc.) while 18% stated that they have a pure legacy environment.

In short, these data points illustrate the state of cloud and DevOps adoption within enterprise IT teams. 

So what kind of DevOps skills do organizations need to ensure they have and the right people to do the job?

A significant number of respondents (55%) reported they look for internal candidates to fill DevOps roles and hire new resources only when they lack the desired competencies. This means DevOps developers, engineers and managers need to constantly update their various technical and soft skills to meet various business demands. Being a DevOps professional is, in fact, what the DevOps Insitute calls a T-shaped Professional. In other words, working in DevOps requires not only someone who is a specialist in a skill but also has a broad breadth of knowledge.

t-shaped professionals diagram

So what are the top ‘must have’ skills for a DevOps professional and engineer? Results from the survey categorized skills into four broad categories: process skills, soft skills, functional skills and technical skills. Some of the key highlights are below:

Enterprises hiring for key roles

According to the survey, only 10% of the organizations have completed hiring for their DevOps roles, while 15% indicated they have no plans to hire for these roles. This means that three-fourths of the organizations are either hiring or will hire for DevOps in the coming years. In fact, Glassdoor rates DevOps Engineer among the top 10 notable tech roles in 2019. Software engineer, DevOps consultant, test engineer and automation architects are some other titles for which companies are actively hiring.

Automation skills are highly valued

Today most organizations are hard-pressed to improve their process efficiency, velocity and quality to meet evolving customer expectations. They need seamless scalability with tools and processes that can run their development, testing and deployment in a repeatable, predictable manner. They need to implement tools for CI/CD, release automation and continuous monitoring. That’s why automation - which is at the core of CI/CD - is rated as the top skill by 57% of the survey respondents.

Process and soft skills are valuable

Automation tools can work well only when people are ready to adopt new practices. There is significant demand for IT professionals who have a broad range of soft skills and process skills in addition to their core competency. Process skills refer to knowledge/experience of SDLC, process flow and analysis, source code management, agile, test-driven deployment methods and system thinking. Similarly, collaboration and cooperation, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, sharing and knowledge transfer, flexibility and adaptability are among top rated soft skills.

IT ops and security among top functional skills

As IT operations scale and become more complex, minimizing business downtimes due to routine operational issues remain a key challenge. Organizations need DevOps professionals who have knowledge of IT operations and infrastructure management. At the same time, securing critical infrastructure and applications from cyber attacks is also crucial. Knowledge of security best practices or experience in penetration testing, threat research or similar security roles can be highly valuable.

Cloud and analytics are in high demand for technical skills

It’s no surprise that having technical cloud skills as well as understanding analytics are in high demand. More than 55% of the respondents rated cloud as the most important must-have technical skill. At the same time, any experience with analyzing complex data sets is also a necessity. In contrast, artificial intelligence, which gets a bit of the industry buzz, is only a nice-to-have skill, although in some industries requirements for AI skills might be more important than others.

At the end of the day, whether you’re a C-suite executive, developer or DevOps buyer, the different roles require a variety of skill sets to be successful.

If you want to learn more about the must-have DevOps skills for developers and managers, listen to our webinar for a complete overview of the survey.

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