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DevOps role continues growth: Is it here to stay?

Fernanda Aspe, Editorial Assistant

In the dynamic world of technology, jobs evolve in response to new requirements. As requirements change, the demand for these new jobs increases.

Just look at DevOps.

An offshoot of Agile development

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, DevOps blurs the lines between developers and operations teams by encouraging developers to have an understanding of operations principles, and encouraging operations professionals to bolster their coding and automation skills.

As more and more companies move data into the cloud and need multiple data centers around the world, strategic roles are required -- and that's where the DevOps role finds its niche.

"It's a position that keeps everything going at a simultaneous level," said Alice Hill, managing director of IT career site Dice.com. "It is a more intelligent, strategic role that builds on [the job of] a system administrator." In other words, a DevOps employee is a sysadmin on steroids. Of course, there is a premium placed on employees with these skills.

The DevOps role appeals to enterprises because it's designed to achieve more with less. The point of breaking down traditional IT silos is to increase communication among employees. "You have to open up direct lines of communication," said Robert Stinnett, a data center automation engineer from Columbia, Mo.

Stinnett believes that sharing knowledge is crucial to a healthy, efficient and productive working environment. "The goal is to get people talking to each other, not talking over each other," he said.

Direct communication among employees fosters a learning environment where skills and knowledge are constantly being transferred. This communication enables employees to work quicker and more efficiently, which in turn moves projects along faster. But saving time is only one aspect of the perks. Others are increased efficiency, lower costs and an increase in quality -- all the result of eliminating the back-and-forth seen in traditional business silos.

Stinnett, however, had some words of caution for those interested in a DevOps hire.

"Companies shouldn't use DevOps as an excuse to have people doing two or three different jobs," he said. "If you're doing it to save money, you're going to fail."

DevOps position's true value remains unclear

As popular as the DevOps position may be right now, some remain wary. The role is a relatively young one. "The truth of it is, we don't know what the true value of it is," said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp., a Voorhees, N.J.-based consulting firm.

Although the benefits of DevOps seem to outweigh its disadvantages, the position hasn't been established long enough to ensure it's the best direction for the enterprise to take.

One potential risk is that even after a company gets people into groups and talking to one another, a centralized direction fails to emerge. Without any direction companies could have chaos on their hands. Therefore, it is essential to have strong leadership management. "There is the risk of not making a decision," Nolle said. This could especially be true if DevOps personnel can't agree during the decision making process.

Though DevOps may seem to be a novelty, there is plenty of demand. Dice.com sees 200 DevOps jobs open up in any given day.

Employers, have your aspirin on hand.

"We don't expect to see this role or the demand going away anytime soon," concluded Dice.com's Hill.


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