DevOps Skills Gap in 2021
Cloud platforms are taking over the IT industry presenting a great scope of options for the software products deploying and, at the same time, creating serious challenges. One of the biggest challenges for that matter is the lack of professionals skilled enough to deploy on cloud-based platforms. In other words, the technology overgrown people, an emerging problem so-called the “DevOps skills gap”. The problem is pretty tough as there are two aggrieved parties, first the developers, who might have built many high-class innovations but cannot get them to the market fast enough, and secondly, the cloud infrastructure holders, who have created so many new infrastructure features and services but cannot see their customers using them. Moreover, let us not forget about the ever-current issue that has to do with the skills gap between developing and IT operations specialists. Some might say that it is not a new fact, the skill gap between two key software production teams has always been there, and we agree with that completely. The new fact here is how fast innovative technology is getting accessible in the cloud and the fact that how much time the deployment phase of the whole software production cycle takes. And this, obviously, has to be less time-consuming for sure. With that in mind, we decided to talk about in-demand DevOps skills in 2021, the existing DevOps skills gap, and how it can be bridged in the nearest future.
DevOps engineers. Who are they and what they do?
We think it wouldn’t hurt if we clarified the DevOps engineers’ roles and responsibilities here. A DevOps engineer is a professional who stabilizes the software production cycle from planning to software support with the help of DevOps philosophy, culture, practices and tools. Basically, a DevOps engineer is a DevOps practitioner who uses the DevOps methodology to help the developers and IT operations specialists to release a high-quality, flawless and client-oriented product faster and more frequently. With developing and IT operations teams having different goals, tasks and skills, DevOps engineers are focused on consolidation and total automatization of all the SDLC processes.
What does a DevOps engineer do?
- Project planning and management. In the majority of cases, DevOps engineers perform a leading role and plan the project from the code building to the software product support. Also, they manage the project from task assignment to performance reporting.
- Working on IT infrastructure. As a rule, infrastructures are not perfect and there are always issues to improve. DevOps engineers detect those issues and work on the improvement, or they design a new infrastructure that will be able to get products to market much faster.
- Performance measuring. Everyday DevOps engineers test the systems and analyze how they work.
- Processes automation. DevOps engineers are the automation gurus. They find ways to release wasted on manual fuss hours by effectively automating all the SDLC processes.
- Release cycles configuring and optimization. DevOps engineers’ task is to configure release pipelines, detect and get rid of the bottlenecks and optimize them as much as possible.
- Performance tracking and reporting. DevOps engineers constantly track the product performance and report on results to the teams.
- Security provision. DevSecOps are the engineers that focus on the security of the software product delivery during all the SDLC phases.
DevOps Roles and Responsibilities
- DevOps Evangelist. This is a leading role that belongs to a professional who is responsible for the DevOps culture and strategy implementation. One of the responsibilities is improving and optimizing the existing infrastructure with the help of best DevOps practices and tools. The DevOps evangelist manages projects and teams to fulfill the ultimate goal – fast release and support of a high-quality product.
- Release Manager. The release manager is responsible for enabling continuous integration of recent features to the framework. DevOps release manager’s core responsibility is product deployment coordination.
- Automation Expert. Automation of SDLC processes, what DevOps methodology is all about. An Automation expert is also called an Integration specialist is responsible for CD (deployment) while ensuring total automation and optimization of software production and maintenance flows.
- Software Developer/Tester. At first, it might seem that the DevOps software developer has responsibilities similar to ordinary developers, but there is a much wider scope of tasks for the DevOps software developer/tester. They are in charge of not only writing or adding new features to the code but also testing, deployment and continuous monitoring.
- Quality Assurance Lead. A DevOps quality assurance lead also has more responsibilities beyond classical testing and checking. They test a product to its limits to detect all the bugs and to improve the performance of every unit. They are constantly on the hunt for new rooms to upgrade features and not only to meet but also exceed customer’s expectations.
- Security Engineer. Security Engineers are responsible for enabling the safety of the product at all phases of its production from designing to ongoing support. DevSecOps specialists monitor the feature’s performance, indicate downtime and security risks to reduce them.
In-Demand DevOps Skills in 2021
- Comprehension of basic DevOps standards and DevOps tools. Knowledge of configuration management, source control, integration, testing, monitoring, containers, clouds, automation tools so on.
- Linux expertise. Windows fans shouldn’t start arguing with us, we are not against Windows, but most of the IT organizations are fond of Linux and it would not hurt if any engineer learned some key Linux commands because the majority of the DevOps operations are Linux based.
- Knowledge of programming/scripting. A DevOps engineer might not be a coding master, but handling basic scripting languages such as Python, PHP, Java, Ruby, Go and others is very preferable.
- Understanding of Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment pipelines configuration and implementation with the help of correspondent tools.
- Networking. Knowledge of how to configure, monitor and secure networks is crucial.
- Infrastructure-as-a-code. IAC is a type of IT infrastructure that teams can automatically manage and maintain with the help of a code. With IAC, the difference in roles between a developer and a system administrator is not that noticeable.
- Cloud expertise. We know we have already mentioned knowledge of clouds as basic DevOps standards is important, however, it wouldn’t hurt if we highlighted one more time that any DevOps specialist has to know how to work with at least one cloud provider: GCP, AWS or Azure.
- Governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) capability. The privacy landscape is always evolving. The teams may not have to have skills for governance and compliance so much as a privacy-oriented development philosophies implementation.
- Security knowledge. Professional DevOps specialists should be able to apply security into the DevOps cycle from the very beginning.
- Soft (Social) skills. Without well-developed communication skills, proactivity, collaboration skills, emotional stability and customer-oriented attitude, an idea of a high-performing DevOps team will never work.
2021 DevOps Skills Gap and how to bridge it
Just in 2019 according to the DevOps Upskilling Report, the main in-demand DevOps skills were cloud expertise, automation know-how and communication, collaboration and empathy soft skills; the 2020 report highlighted process, knowledge and GRC proficiency. With target in-demand skills changing so rapidly, we can deduce how it must be hard for IT organizations to bridge the skills gap and keep their teams updated. Moreover, the 2020 pandemic, with a necessary shift to remote or hybrid form of work, only aggravated this gap, turning it into the yawning chasm in some cases. To bridge the skills gap, IT organization leaders should learn why these particular skills are currently in need (also the ability to predict the next year’s desired DevOps skills would be very helpful), choose the proper tools for teams to work on the skills and set up/maintain collaboration and learning environments.
How to bridge the DevOps skills gap
To develop and enforce an efficient upskill program, IT organizations should identify the reasons why these particular skills are in-demand for now, determine what skills will endure and gain popularity shortly. To bridge the skills gap, IT organizations should:
- Invest in tools! Annual DevOps Upskilling report is a true litmus test for IT leaders to realize that in-demand skills vary from one year to another. To avoid bouncing back and forth between agile market requirements and be ready to imply any skill innovation IT organizations should invest in tools. With proper tools, teams do not have to learn new techniques and can automate all the tasks. For instance, more and more companies work with different cloud providers. To curb the expansion of unnecessary skills IT leaders can pick appropriate container tools that deploy easily to multiple cloud environments and deal with them only. Plus, tools, when optimized, can automate the SDLC processes and bridge a skills gap because using tools that automate GRC processes help the teams focus on their core goals and responsibilities rather than making a strong effort to master data-privacy laws.
- Set up, implement and promote the learning culture. The skills gap can be bridged only if companies promote a culture of learning. IT leaders who support their teams in completing training classes, attending conferences and, in general, investing in their expertise are more likely to have people in teams who keep the newest technologies and techniques under the radar. Moreover, companies’ leaders can set up learning events such as hackathons to promote a learning culture.
- Focus on people and their collaboration. An as-old-as-time statement that people in the teams should be the main focus of any business, and people, when they get the big picture, drive the organization’s progress, is still relevant here. People should know why they need to extend their skill set, and why exactly with these particular skills. IT decision-makers should explain the core reasons for the changes, supply the teams with all necessary tools and create a comfortable environment for the teams’ collaboration not only to close the existing skills gap but also ensure that they will successfully deal with upcoming adjustments.
Current market requirements indicate a strong need to give up the siloing of skills and adopt a generalist mindset with an extensive skills collection. DevOps engineers tend to be among the most experienced people on teams. They have grown from either system administrators or developers and, believe us, the path they had to deal with was thorny enough. In general, closing the DevOps skills gap is not an easy process that can cause leaders much stress and anxiety. However, if business decision-makers focus on teams’ collaborating, try to promote a learning culture and invest in tough DevOps tools, the skills gap will fade away and become invisible in a while for sure. IT organizations that understand the reason for obtaining these particular skills and react promptly will secure present and future success.