How to Hire the Best DevOps Engineers
Before hiring DevOps engineers, it’s best for employers to have a good background or understanding of the meaning of DevOps, its importance to developing a software product or service, and the benefits that businesses can gain when you hire skilled DevOps engineers.
What is DevOps? Derived from the terms “Development” and “Operations”, DevOps is a set of practices, philosophies, and tools in software development that aims to reduce the systems development life cycle to increase an organisation’s ability to produce products, features, fixes, or updates at a higher rate while ensuring high quality. This speed allows businesses to efficiently serve customers and effectively compete in the market.
In the DevOps model, operations and development teams are no longer ‘siloed’. Sometimes, teams are merged into one unified team. This unified team already works on the entire lifecycle of an application, from its development and test until its deployment and operations. As such, the team’s members are not limited to one specific function and all aim to collaborate with each other.
In other DevOps models, the QA and security teams may also closely work with the development and operations and all throughout the project or application lifecycle. When a DevOps team is mainly focused on security, this is sometimes referred to as DevSecOps.
DevOps teams use tools and practices to automate manual and slow processes in systems or applications. Using tech stacks and tools, DevOps teams quickly and safely operate and improve applications.
For the past few years, DevOps has been consistently rising in demand and has since shaped the software industry. According to a study by Grand View Research, Inc., the global DevOps market is projected to reach USD 12.85 billion USD by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% during this period.
The following will be the main factors for driving DevOps market growth:
- Digitalisation of enterprises for more efficient and automated business processes
- Adoption of current and new cloud technologies
- Increasing implementation of agile frameworks
- Demand for better collaboration among IT teams to improve operational efficiency
The role of a DevOps engineer is unique in that it bridges the gap between a software development team and an IT operation. While DevOps engineers often work independently, they are also required to collaborate with both teams and other internal members of the project (e.g. QC personnel, project manager) as they are responsible for creating workflow processes, scaling cloud programs, among many others, to efficiently improve the application’s processes.
Why should you hire a DevOps Engineer?
Software has evolved from merely supporting a business to becoming an integral part of business operations. Companies use software to increase productivity by digitally transforming parts of the value chain such as communications, operations, and logistics. In addition, companies use online applications or software to attract and engage potential and current customers via any form of gadget. As the tech industry continues to grow, companies must also transform and improve how they create and deliver software.
From startups to large tech firms, DevOps tools are also increasingly being used by companies to streamline workflows, boost productivity, lessen the time to market, produce high-quality software, and reduce costs on software development, delivery, and maintenance.
Businesses that employ DevOps engineers into their teams can reap the following benefits:
DevOps engineers optimise processes and enable developers and operations teams to move at a high velocity. As a result, your development and operations team can quickly produce and deliver products or services, new features, updates and fixes for customers, easily adapt to market changes, and become more efficient at producing results.
Hiring DevOps engineers helps secure and verify the quality of infrastructure changes and quality updates to be able to deliver at a faster pace while retaining a good positive experience for the end users.
A DevOps engineer helps businesses to efficiently manage and changing or complex systems with reduced risks.
A DevOps cultural model places importance on values such as accountability and ownership. These values help build effective developers and operations teams as they work closely together, combine their workflow, and share responsibilities. As a result, this saves time and lessens inefficiencies.
Adopting a DevOps model allows developers and operations teams to quickly produce applications or deploy updates without sacrificing security through automated compliance policies, configuration management techniques, and fine-grained tools.
What technical skills should you look for when hiring DevOps Engineers?
When hiring DevOps engineers, recruiters and employers must evaluate a candidate’s technical skills and the candidate’s compatibility with the given responsibility. Aside from a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or any related field, here are the basic and ideal technical skills employers and recruiters should look for:
Broad Knowledge of tools and technologies
While new tools and technologies continue to emerge in the field of DevOps, skilled DevOps engineers generally have a broad knowledge and understanding of the following areas:
- Programming Language (e.g. Python, Scala, Ruby, C, Go)
- Source Control (e.g. Git, Svn, VSTS, Bitbucket)
- Continuous integration (e.g. Bamboo, Jenkins, VSTS)
- Container Concepts (e.g. LXD, Docker)
- Infrastructure Automation (e.g. Chef, Puppet, Ansible)
- Deployment Automation and Orchestration (e.g. Octopus Deploy, Jenkins, VSTS)
- Cloud (e.g. AWS, Azure, OpenStack, Google Cloud)
- Orchestration (e.g. Kubernetes, Swarm, Mesos)
Experience and expertise in security
Combining development and operations greatly optimises development and speed up code deployment, however, a faster cycle can be prone to security threats. As such, the ideal DevOps engineer must be knowledgeable of good security practices in order to write secure code. Companies that use DevSecOps know that it is best to build secure software right from the start.
For employers and recruiters, it is recommended to test your candidate’s knowledge and ability in security practices when it comes to DevOps. It is also preferable if the candidate had previous training or certification in cybersecurity.
Other preferable technical skills
Here are other technical skills that hiring managers look for when they hire skilled DevOps engineers.
- Experience deploying code
- Broad knowledge of software build cycles
- Experience in software architecture
- Knowledgeable with the basics of application programming
- System design
- Database management
The technical requirements above are just a basic guide when you hire DevOps engineers. This list can be as short or as exhaustive depending on the project specifications.
Are there other skills to consider when hiring a DevOps Engineer?
Aside from the technical requirements mentioned above, there are ‘soft skills’ that would greatly help recruiters and employers to determine skilled DevOps engineers from the rest.
Communication and Collaboration
Since the role of a DevOps engineer requires them to work with the development and operations team, as well as other key members of a project such as a project manager, exceptional communication and collaboration skills are crucial when hiring a DevOps engineer.
In fact, the DevOps culture itself highly values communication and collaboration which can be seen in DevOps’ methodology goals for improvement. As rapid deployment becomes increasingly common, communication and collaboration will challenge and change the way software businesses work. As such, it is wise to pay attention to how your teams or departments work and to select highly skilled individuals with strong communication and collaboration skills.
Willingness to Learn and Improve
In an ever-changing environment, a good DevOps candidate must be able to demonstrate their drive to improve their work and themselves. Aside from continuously studying industry trends, a DevOps candidate must also have a mind that is receptive to constructive feedback, always willing to admit mistakes and responsible enough to learn from it.
Great DevOps engineers should be highly inquisitive. To learn new things and keep up-to-date with the industry trends, a DevOps engineer must constantly ask questions and find answers to come up with great ideas and solutions. In addition to this curiosity, an ideal DevOps engineer must have a knack for challenges, always eager to solve problems as they arise.
What are the DevOps best practices?
Communication and Collaboration
Previously mentioned as the most important soft skill a DevOps candidate must possess, communication and collaboration are the core cultural aspects in DevOps. Using DevOps tooling and automation in the software delivery process creates collaboration by combining the development and operations’ responsibilities and workflows. In addition, teams set strong communication practices in terms of information sharing and facilitating communication by making use of project management and tracking tools and instant messaging, among others. This helps to quickly communicate information and to align all teams involved.
This is a practice in software development where a developer regularly combines code changes into a central repository. The goal of this practice is to find and solve bugs faster, improve the software quality, and reduce the time when validating and releasing new software updates.
Continuous Delivery is a practice where changes in code are automatically built, tested, and prepared for production. It expands upon the practice of continuous integration by deploying all changes in code to testing and/or production environment after the build stage.
Monitoring and Logging
Monitoring, categorising, and analysing data and logs by applications and infrastructures allows organisations to see how an application and infrastructure performance impacts the end user’s experience. As services must be available at all times and as application updates increase, active monitoring and real-time data analysis can help organisations to proactively monitor their services.
Microservices is a design approach enabling developers to create an application as a collection of small services. In addition, it allows the continuous deployment of large and complex applications and allows an organisation to evolve its tech stack.
Infrastructure as Code
It is the practice of managing and provisioning computer data centres using code and software development techniques. Developers and system administrators can programmatically interact with the infrastructure through the cloud’s API-driven model. Because they are made by code, developers can use the latest standardised patterns to quickly deploy infrastructures and servers.
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