Boosting Your Career with a DevOps Mindset

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A DevOps mindset is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable assets for tech pros in today’s market. According to a survey by Puppet Labs, companies are willing to a pay a premium for employees with DevOps-related skills, experience and titles.

But what exactly is a DevOps mindset? It’s a willingness to break down the silos that have traditionally separated developers and operations, as well as the know-how to employ a collaborative, continuous delivery approach to software development and maintenance.

Don’t wait for your manager to take the lead on this. Here are four ways to master the fundamentals and kick-start your transformation to a DevOps mentality.

Study the Underlying Concepts

Since DevOps is a methodology, you really need to understand its underlying values around culture, automation, measurement and sharing. After that, you can apply its philosophy and best practices to your work. But not all DevOps approaches are created equal; tech leaders and organizations apply its collaborative framework in different ways, according to Matt Ray, director of partner integration for Chef, which builds IT-automation software.

Tech pros learning about DevOps for the first time may find that they’ve already employed similar methods in the past, especially if they already work in non-siloed environments; in those cases, simply applying different terminology to existing skillsets will go a long way toward adopting a true DevOps mindset.

Climb Over the Wall

Collaboration is the secret sauce of DevOps. To develop an inclusive approach, learn as much as you can about your counterparts on the other side of the “wall,” whether they belong to Operations or another IT team. Find a learning partner in another division or embed with the “other team” for a while.

You can also increase transparency among development, QA and operations by volunteering to set up lunch-and-learns or social events. “If you’re a sysadmin, teach developers how to deploy their own code or applications or let them respond to calls following deployment,” Ray suggested. “If you’re a developer, teach a sysadmin Agile or test-driven development. Cross-training creates empathy and invites collaborative problem solving.”

A DevOps mentality also demands commitment—this isn’t a one-and-done sort of thing. “If you identify process gaps during cross-training, work together to close them and improve quality,” suggested Andi Mann, chief tech advocate for Splunk. “Closing gaps between individuals and teams by using shared approaches and automation are the underpinnings of DevOps success.”

If cross-training isn’t possible in your current environment, acquire practical experience by participating in a DevOps hackathon or bootcamp where you can work side-by-side with peers on continuous delivery and testing, or implementing infrastructure as code.

Blame Less, Learn More

Finger-pointing doesn’t inspire positive community relations, and it runs counter to DevOps culture. Instead of playing the blame game, talk to your managers about holding blameless post-mortems following projects, outages or rocky deployments. For instance, approaching mistakes, errors and lapses from a collective perspective of learning has inspired continuous improvement at companies such as Etsy, Chef and GitHub. Glean best practices and volunteer to lead the way by studying Chef’s post-mortem template.

Learn New Tools

Joining with colleagues to learn popular tools such as Jenkins, Ansible, Chef and Puppet can likewise inspire a communal culture, broaden your perspective and increase your market value. Becoming proficient with a software version control system such as Git is another way for operations professionals to get more familiar with the development process and its tools.

“Using the same tools, languages and measurements and referring to incidents in the same way can kick-start cultural change by shifting development to the left and operations to the right,” Mann said.

Remember, applying DevOps-style collaboration to your workflow can only increase your marketability—and ultimately the size of your paycheck.

Image Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

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