James Cunningham is head of DevOps at Pusher. I read a recent interview he did with The Register on how he makes DevOps work, and I thought it’s definitely worth sharing these 5 tips:
- Specificity factors in DevOps hiring: Cunningham says it’s important to kill the silo that Ops (operations) used to live in and merge it into the Dev (developer) software engineering team – he also thinks it is important to hire DevOps engineers specifically, in a similar way to specifically hiring a frontend or backend engineer as a specialty in the engineering team.“DevOps engineers are a force multiplier, so they don’t necessarily need to scale up linearly with the team, particularly considering part of the role of a DevOps engineer is to share operational knowledge among an engineering team,” he said.
- DevOps tooling democracy: Dedicated DevOps has a responsibility to ensure developers have the tools they need, but this truism does not lead us to a one-way street. That is to say, the rest of the engineering team has to be involved in the creation of tools, even if from a high level.“The actual implementation can be handled separately although it is good to get wider involvement to lower the bus factor. It is also incredibly important that this be a rolling process that evolves over time. Business and technical needs change, yet a lot of tooling gets stuck in the past, so to speak,” said Cunningham.
- DevOps silo destruction: A slightly disturbing trend seems to be simply relabelling operations to DevOps, without breaking down the silo that operations itself used to exist within. Cunningham thinks it is up to the DevOps engineers themselves to force the break down in that silo where it does exist.
- When to DevOps… and when to just Ops: Cunningham is of the opinion that, in a well-disciplined engineering team, DevOps engineers direct and oversee the operational aspects but do not necessarily maintain full responsibility… that still comes back to the purist operations function.It’s a question of knowing when the job should be an integrated DevOps function and when it should be old school operations. Like, before we used to call it DevOps, remember?
- DevOps trends and new demands: Looking at the road ahead technology wise, containers are definitely going to remain a trend in 2016, this much we know to be true. However, Cunningham thinks the focus will shift from container runtimes (like Docker and Rkt) and schedulers (such as Mesos and Kubernetes) to the build tools and pipeline.
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Cunningham concludes: “Containers have gotten by fine so far being built from shell scripts, but this is not scalable. I see a need for a tool that sits between shell scripts and full-blown configuration management. I also think we are seeing software defined networking, at least in terms of overlay networks, fizzle out; in lieu of traditional networking to take advantage of the decades worth of optimisations that have gone into it.”