What is a devops engineer infographic with graphics of computers, books and a group of people

What is a DevOps Engineer? A Comprehensive Introduction for 2021

We’ve heard the term. And we’ve seen the job openings. But it’s still not really clear… What is a DevOps engineer?

Surprisingly, it’s not an easy answer.

There are a lot of things you need to know.

Today we’ll go over the role of a DevOps engineer. And we’ll examine the skills, experience, and traits each should have.

We’ve even put together some course and book recommendations if you think it’s the career for you.

So, first thing’s first…

What is a DevOps engineer?

DevOps engineer job description: A DevOps engineer is the go-to person who works with software developers (DEV) and IT operations (OPS). They bridge the communication gap between the teams to oversee code releases.

This is done by configuring identical environments for development and production teams.

DevOps engineers collaborate with multiple teams

Collaboration increases productivity by automating infrastructure and workflows. In addition, it continuously measures application performance.

As a result, software is released more frequently and with greater stability.

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What are the fundamentals of DevOps engineers?

DevOps engineers use a combination of skills and knowledge. DevOps engineer skills require both technical and soft skills:

1. Technical Skills

There’s a variety of technical DevOps engineers skills:

  • You should have experience with automation tools. For example, when it comes to containers, Docker and Kubernetes are invaluable tools for DevOps engineers. We’ll cover both of these in depth later.

  • Be familiar with sysadmin and operations roles. As a DevOps engineer, you’re responsible for constant configuration and maintenance. It helps to have previous experience with servers and management.

  • Enjoy coding, testing, and deployment. You’ll be coding, testing those tiny snippets, and deploying them throughout the day. By doing this incrementally, you’ll find errors faster and speedily resolve them.

  • Get ready for continuous integration. You’ll be merging working copies of code into a shared mainline several times a day. By doing this, updates take hours to days, instead of weeks to months.

  • Know a few programming languages. It’s better to know too much than to struggle in a position as important as DevOps engineer. Python is often recommended as the gateway language for DevOps because it’s an easier language to learn. It’s also a great for enabling automation.

2. Soft Skills

Because of the frequency of human interaction and mitigation, someone with HR or middle management experience may thrive as a DevOps engineer.

Some DevOps engineer skills include having to effectively communicate with:

  1. software developers
  2. IT operators
  3. project managers
  4. stakeholders

And others. You must be able to communicate your points clearly and efficiently so everyone is on the same page:

  • Be a mentor. You’ll be working with and educating multiple teams to reach that common goal: creating streamlined software that is scalable and secure.
  • You must be a good collaborator. You are taking the creations of dev and IT teams and turning them into something more efficient. This includes cloud programs, workflow processes, and more.
  • Customer Service is one of your best traits. You’ve got to be a team player. As a DevOps engineer, you have the added responsibility of keeping the peace.
  • You’re okay with failing. You read that right! You’ll be testing and failing over and over until you get that piece of code right. Then you’re going to do it again with the next piece. And the one after that. And after that and….
  • Make a decision and stick with it. As a DevOps engineer, you are the final say in the team. You have to be able to make firm decisions and lead your team to success.

In addition, Agile methodology is a way of efficiently managing software development projects.

Photo courtesy of Scott D’Ambra

What are some DevOps engineer tools?

Here are a few DevOps engineers tools you should consider using:

Docker – OS-level virtualization to deliver software in containers

Image courtesy of Jake Wright from his video How to Learn Docker in 12 minutes

Kubernetes – automates deployment, scaling, offers management of containerized applications

Jenkins – automates software related to building, testing and deploying code

GitHub – source control allows you to manage, track, and document changes to application code

Chef, Puppet, Ansible and SaltStack – configuration management, remote task execution, IT automation tools

New Relic – cloud based software that examines app performance and identifies bottlenecks

Become a DevOps engineer

Are you up to the task of becoming a DevOps engineer?

We’ve put together some resources to help you set your goal in motion.

#1. DevOps for Developers Learning Path on Educative.io

Lesson on Docker in the DevOps for Developers Learning Path on Educative.io

Docker and Kubernetes are used by most development teams today. And that trend is only growing.

Educative has created the learning track DevOps for Developers to help you master these tools.

With 8 DevOps engineer modules ranging from beginner to advanced, this Learning Path teaches you everything from fundamentals to full implementation of Docker and Kubernetes.

Modules include:

  • Network Fundamentals
  • Docker for Developers
  • Docker Compose for Developers
  • A Practical Guide to Kubernetes
  • Kubernetes Monitoring, Logging and Auto-Scaling
  • Jenkins X with Kubernetes
  • Kubernetes Chaos Engineering
  • DevOps in Azure

By the end of this Learning Path, you should have a firm hold on Docker and Kubernetes. You’ll also have hours of hands-on experience to prepare you for a DevOps role.

Kubernetes lesson in the DevOps for Developers Learning Path on Educative.io

#2 DevOps Bootcamp: Learn Linux & Become a Linux Sysadmin on Zero to Mastery

Linux terminal in the course DevOps Bootcamp on Zero to Mastery

DevOps Bootcamp is a DevOps course for absolute beginners. With 31 modules, you’ll start with the basics like learning how to set up your Linux environment. Then you’ll learn almost everything you need to become a professional Linux System Administrator such as:

  • Linux file permissions
  • user account management
  • networking
  • Linux Firewall
  • Docker fundamentals
  • network security and ethical hacking

And much more.

Throughout the course, you’ll apply your DevOps skills to 4 projects:

  • Running Containerized Applications with Docker
  • Securing and Hardening a Linux System
  • Setting Up a Web and DNS Server
  • Automating Linux Administrative Tasks With Ansible

By the end of DevOps Bootcamp, you should be able to be an effective Linux Sysadmin.

Docker project in the course DevOps Bootcamp on Zero to Mastery


Course learning not your thing?

You can also check out these DevOps Engineer books:

DevOps for Dummies

“This book is for everyone. New folks will find understanding and comprehension of DevOps. Seasoned professionals will find new ways to identify, measure, and remove bottlenecks.” – Garth Mortensen

Author Emily Freeman creates an introductory roadmap consisting of management tools, technology tools and cultural adaptations.

This DevOps engineer book is a must-have for aspiring DevOps engineers.


Python for DevOps: Learn Ruthlessly Effective Automation

“Very informative, real world examples with a good introduction to Python. Covers all aspects of DevOps concepts with emphasis on automation. Does a good job explaining cloud computing, data engineering and ML concepts.” – Wayne Blanchard

This DevOps engineer book shows you how to use Python for Linux systems administration tasks using Docker, Kubernetes and Terraform.

You’ll learn how to develop software and solve problems using containers. And you’ll see how to monitor, instrument, load-test your software and more.

The DevOps engineer book Python for DevOps also covers Python foundations, how to automate text, writing command-line tools, cloud computing, and more.


The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations

“I use this book as my handbook to survive as IT operations manager.” – Nikolay

The DevOps Handbook focuses on increasing profitability, elevating work culture, and exceeding productivity goals using DevOps practices.

And that’s just for starters.

This DevOps engineer book also shows you how to integrate product management, IT operations, development, information security, and more.

Note: The DevOps Handbook is the sequel to The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.


What is a DevOps Engineer: Conclusion

We’ve finally gotten an answer to that difficult question: What is a DevOps engineer?

This liaison has multiple important responsibilities. They bridge the gap between software developers and IT operators by:

  • communicating effectively
  • automating processes
  • utilizing new tools to increase efficiency

And that’s just to name a few.

With the complexity of a DevOps engineer, there’s much to learn.

You can take the DevOps for Developers 4-course learning track on Educative. And you can read DevOps for Dummies, Python for DevOps, and The DevOps Handbook.

Up Next: How to Get a Job in Web Development – The Course They Won’t Tell You About

  1. What is a DevOps engineer?

    A DevOps engineer is the go-to person who works with software developers (DEV) and IT operators (OPS). They bridge the communication gap between the teams to oversee code releases. This is done by configuring identical environments for development and production teams. Collaboration increases productivity by automating infrastructure and workflows. In addition, it continuously measures application performance.
    As a result, software is released more frequently and with greater stability.

  2. What are some software tools used by DevOps engineers?

    Docker and Kubernetes are used for containers. Jenkins automates software related to building, testing and deploying code. GitHub gives you source control which allows you to manage, track and document changes to application code. Chef, Puppet, Ansible and SaltStack are all configuration management, remote task execution, and IT automation tools. New Relic is cloud based software that examines application performance and identifies bottlenecks.

  3. What skills does a DevOps engineer need?

    A DevOps engineer needs a combination of soft and technical skills. For soft skills, you must be a mentor, collaborator, and excel in customer service. You must also be decisive and able to communicate effectively. For technical skills, you should know multiple programming languages, experience with automation tools, sysadmin experience, familiarity with continuous integration, coding, testing and deployment.