To many of those working on the operations end of IT, the term DevOps conjures up thoughts of new cross-team strategies or specific tools like Github, Ansible, and Vagrant. But before you jump into the execution of DevOps, it's important to understand the dynamics behind it. The concept embodies a fundamental shift in how technology is used and produced in companies today, requiring skills that may be vastly different from the past. So moving toward DevOps means companies must think about how they educate their staff, and IT pros must look for ways to ramp up in areas that were once far beyond their scope.
As founder and CEO of the DevOps Institute, Jayne Groll understands the many challenges organizations face when undergoing this transition. Earlier this year at Interop ITX, we sat down with her to talk about the changes taking place in IT and how IT professionals and their organizations can adapt.
Groll noted that new practices rooted in DevOps are drastically affecting everyday work for those in IT. The trend toward automating many processes and repeatable tasks is removing those tasks from daily responsibilities but demanding that IT pros implement and manage automation itself. Another practice called shift left is moving processes – like testing, security, and integration with infrastructure -- earlier in the technology lifecycle. That means more collaboration and an increase in the core competencies needed to work in any capacity in IT.
The upshot, says Groll, is that modern IT professionals must be far more multidimensional than in the past. Silos and specialties are fading away in favor of cross-functional teams and generalists with a capacity to learn new skills.
Specifically, almost everyone needs testing and coding skills, according to Groll. In a software-driven world, coding is the foundation, and the ability to understand the basics and identify potential problems is essential. By the same token, developers need to understand the infrastructure and environment that code must function within.
Organizations are recognizing the need to facilitate skills advancement and cross training by fostering cultures of knowledge sharing, says Groll. Some are creating small teams or "dojos" with coaches that help team members learn new skills, or introducing special challenges and experimental projects to encourage teamwork and reduce the fear of failure. Others are even renovating their offices to literally tear down the walls between traditional functions, replacing them with spaces designed for cross-pollination of ideas and capabilities.