Why DevOps? What Makes a Great DevOps Engineer? 10 Experts on DevOps

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Why DevOps? What Makes a Great DevOps Engineer? 10 Experts on DevOps
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Table of Contents
  • Introducing our DevOps experts
    • Roman Kamiński, Cloud System Architect (Atos, Poland)
    • Marcelo Grebois, Senior DevOps Engineer (Toptal, Germany)
    • Mark van Lent, DevOps Engineer (Schuberg Philis, Netherlands)
    • Piotr Korlaga, Senior DevOps Engineer (TechnipFMC, United Kingdom)
    • Piotr Pawłowski, DevOps Specialist (The One Question, Poland)
    • Junior Godoi, Engineering Manager (Scurri, Ireland)
    • Szymon Piasecki, Former Head of DevOps (STX Next, Poland)
    • Emil Krawczak, DevOps Engineer (STX Next, Poland)
    • Jakub Grządzielski, Service Delivery Manager (STX Next, Poland)
    • Mariusz Tomczyk, Senior DevOps Engineer (STX Next, Poland)
  • Why implement DevOps in your project? Actionable insights from experienced DevOps professionals
    • Focus on automation, cloud, and tools
    • The centrality of Python and beyond
    • CALMS as the key to an all-encompassing DevOps culture
    • Analysis-based implementable strategies
    • A prepared approach to the future
  • 5 most sought-after traits of a DevOps specialist
    • 1. Willingness to learn and a passion to develop after hours
    • 2. Analytical and strategic approach
    • 3. Joining practice and theory
    • 4. Joining development and operations in experience
    • 5. Focus and clarity of specialization
  • Final thoughts on why you should choose DevOps and what makes a great DevOps engineer

If you’re looking for a branch of IT where there is never a dull moment, quite naturally DevOps comes to mind. It’s an enterprise that, as both engineering and administration professionals confirm, has already given us a taste of the future of software development.

As the demand for DevOps engineers constantly grows, the question of why DevOps is a methodology you should explore continues to become more and more relevant. With that said, you may be wondering what to look for in new DevOps specialists joining your team—or, if you’re an engineer yourself, which characteristics you should embrace in your DevOps career.

In our short article, we’ll share with you insights from 10 DevOps experts based on their years of experience in the field. Read on for:

  • an introduction to our experts and their background,
  • a brief case for using DevOps in your project,
  • an overview of the key traits of DevOps engineers.

Introducing our DevOps experts

Before our choice of DevOps experts get their say, a flash introduction to each of them will build a due base for the advice we’d like to give you. First, you’ll meet a few external specialists, and then we’ll move on to DevOps professionals working at STX Next.

Roman Kamiński, Cloud System Architect (Atos, Poland)

Over his 24 years of experience in IT, Roman directed his career toward DevOps and cloud engineering, where he spent the last 6 years. At Atos, he works on a global platform that involves multiple solutions from the DevOps approach.

Find out more and interact with Roman on his LinkedIn profile.

Marcelo Grebois, Senior DevOps Engineer (Toptal, Germany)

Marcelo Grebois photo

For over 15 years, Marcelo has held various engineering and executive leadership positions in Europe and Latin America. A confirmed talent for automation helped him develop projects for purpose-led, high-availability platforms.

He remains an outspoken advocate of open source and contributes captivating materials to CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) and IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).

Learn more about Marcelo from his LinkedIn profile and follow him on the platforms he writes for.

Mark van Lent, DevOps Engineer (Schuberg Philis, Netherlands)

Mark van Lent photo

10 years of experience in web development have brought Mark to a “do not repeat yourself” (DRY) philosophy that he effectively applies to cloud infrastructure. He is keenly interested in the complexities of the DevOps culture and remains hooked on Infrastructure as Code (IaC) in his creative work.

Connect with Mark on his LinkedIn profile to talk about his extensive experience with DevOps in the Netherlands.

Piotr Korlaga, Senior DevOps Engineer (TechnipFMC, United Kingdom)

Piotr Korlaga photo

A customer-oriented professional, Piotr has experience in various sectors of building IT solutions. He has worked for public retail, finance, energy, and telecom. Always attached to the Agile methodology, he appreciates automation and cares about effective engineering processes.

To contact Piotr and chat about the mysteries of DevOps practices, find him on LinkedIn.

Piotr Pawłowski, DevOps Specialist (The One Question, Poland)

Piotr Pawłowski photo

Starting his career as a Unix admin, Piotr progressed to a wide-ranging DevOps engagement. His self-proclaimed aim is to facilitate the work of development teams through implementing automation wherever possible. 

You will reach him on LinkedIn, where he maintains a large network of equally minded DevOps engineers.

Junior Godoi, Engineering Manager (Scurri, Ireland)

Junior Godoi photo

A frequent contributor at STX Next, Junior discussed his insights about the DevOps culture in an article on our blog based on a live session we held with him as part of our Tech Leaders Hub initiative.

He boasts an impressive experience of 15 years across numerous areas of project management and frontend development. As an excellent communicator, he fosters a responsible ownership culture in his DevOps teams.

To talk to Junior on “Why use DevOps?” join his network on LinkedIn.

After a set of international experts, we invite you to get to know some of our internal DevOps leaders. They gladly share the all-encompassing experience of STX Next in DevOps services delivery and testify to a growing DevOps culture at our teams.

Szymon Piasecki, Former Head of DevOps (STX Next, Poland)

Szymon Piasecki photo

Szymon’s long-lasting commitment to leading teams within the IT infrastructure has enabled him to accumulate an invaluable pool of experience. He shoots point blank when talking about maintenance, design, and monitoring, while keeping a keen eye on talent discovery in DevOps engineering.

Reach out to Szymon via LinkedIn to talk about the right way to do DevOps.

Emil Krawczak, DevOps Engineer (STX Next, Poland)

Emil Krawczak photo

We’ve consulted Emil for a share of internal knowledge on his work in DevOps. He calls himself a true IT geek and is all about exchanging knowledge and experience. Over three years as a DevOps engineer and even more as a sysadmin, he has built a presence for himself in the Dev and Ops worlds and remains constantly involved in both of them.

To talk about his firm belief that limitations are just in our heads and make use of his DevOps experience, contact him on LinkedIn.

Jakub Grządzielski, Service Delivery Manager (STX Next, Poland)

Jakub Grządzielski photo

Jakub’s engineering background distinguishes him as a long-term leadership and executive coach and organizational development consultant. Two decades of practice within a leading global automotive company gave him a chance to lead many to be the best they can be.

For STX Next, he provides unique insights into successful management practices. Get in touch with Jakub on LinkedIn.

Mariusz Tomczyk, Senior DevOps Engineer (STX Next, Poland)

Mariusz Tomczyk photo

The flexibility Mariusz boasts makes him an ideal candidate for a DevOps engineer. Supported with several years of background in telecommunications and an openness for innovation, Mariusz’s career in DevOps could have been the only right choice for him.

Benefit from his depth of insight by visiting Mariusz’s LinkedIn profile.

Why implement DevOps in your project? Actionable insights from experienced DevOps professionals

In the following section, quote after quote, we’ll make our way together with the experts to answer one key question: why DevOps?

We pinpoint the areas that make DevOps special, dive into technologies that support DevOps, and finally try to conclude with several informed guesses about the future.

Focus on automation, cloud, and tools

Increasingly, and surely for the foreseeable future, DevOps will rely on automation and cloud services. Getting the skills in these areas will pave the way for engineers, while managers will benefit from the time saved on the reduction of manual operations. Roman Kamiński knows it all too well:

“The amount of work in operating system or app support will surely be reduced over time, with the DevOps model using automation tools taking over.”

—Roman Kamiński

Automation is not only for developers and operations. Mariusz Tomczyk notices that the application of automated DevOps processes has boosted the end user satisfaction across the board.

“An approach where only automated, standardized processes have a right to deployment has positively impacted the stabilization of implementation, and thus the reception of our solutions by end users.”

—Mariusz Tomczyk

The centrality of Python and beyond

From a recruitment standpoint, knowing Python is an important skill—one to take care of with special focus, especially in projects where the new automation approach has sunk in.

Szymon Piasecki starts his interviews for DevOps roles with a check on logical thinking about Python. Here’s how he describes it:

“When we talk to job applicants for a DevOps role, we often ask, ‘If you want to automate something quickly, what do you choose: Python or Bash?’ We get to hear various answers, always sensibly motivated, explaining the choice well. We have no statistics on this question, but we’d love to hear from you what you would choose and why.”

—Szymon Piasecki

The natural conclusion from Python’s portability is that it can become central for DevOps projects. Automation and simpler scripting play a part here, followed by cloud solutions. Piotr Pawłowski is spot on with his remarks:

“If you know something about how Python can be useful in DevOps, what we should learn in Python for DevOps, or why Python is a good language for DevOps—that’s perfect. Python is a multiplatform language; you can run it easily on every main operating system. The language’s portability makes it the top choice for DevOps when it comes to creating automation scripts. With Python, you can be successful in AWS/GCP and Azure areas.”

—Piotr Pawłowski

Mariusz Tomczyk continues in the same spirit, drawing from STX Next’s long-standing Python capabilities:

“When you work as a DevOps, the knowledge of a programming language such as Python is a big bonus in the process of automation.”

—Mariusz Tomczyk

The fact that Python is a good choice for DevOps is confirmed by Emil Krawczak, who lists the areas where the language can be successfully applied. To him, it is simply a “Why wonder?” situation.

“If you have no previous experience with programming languages, the ideal choice would be Python or Go. Python has a lower entry threshold and is more universal. You can use it almost anywhere, not only as a DevOps, but also with machine learning, data science, web development, video games, the Internet of Things, and many more areas. I would seriously recommend Python as the first choice.”

—Emil Krawczak

If you wish to learn more about Python at STX Next and its role in our DevOps department, take a tour of our offer and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

CALMS as the key to an all-encompassing DevOps culture

DevOps is often regarded as more than just a methodology. Our experts point out why DevOps is all about people and culture. Above all, it’s crucial not to remain disconnected from the team or the subject matter.

Junior Godoi and Mark van Lent put these assumptions to practice in their everyday assignments at Scurri and Schuberg Philis.

“I’d rather define DevOps using the CALMS acronym (coined by John Willis, if I recall correctly). The letters stand for Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, Sharing. I think often the focus is too much on the tools and not on the other aspects.”

—Mark van Lent

The word “joy” stands out as an interesting conclusion from Junior’s input, marking how DevOps is human in its principles. You’ll find these ideas in Junior’s article on the DevOps culture.

“At Scurri, we use the DevOps mindset, which means every full-stack developer is responsible for the end-to-end of the new code they are working on. The responsibility does not finish when the code is done but only when this code is live.

Our product squads have full ownership of the value they are adding. This means they have control over the code they are creating and can decide the best way to deploy it to our production environment. With minimum dependencies, delays, and impediments, it creates a flow of value, therefore, joy.”

—Junior Godoi

Analysis-based implementable strategies

Those who have dipped their toes in modern IT project management must have already come across the rise of DevOps in software development and creating strategies. Over the whole lifecycle of a product, DevOps analysis can bring a significant boost to migrations and upgrades.

As Mariusz Tomczyk says, “It’s all about unity of deployment. And it’s growing!

I noticed that DevOps is getting more and more popular as a project approach. The most frequent issues and challenges come with migration of solutions based on outdated assumptions. This is why assuming the DevOps methodology at the start of the project is definitely most beneficial. Teams start to see value in the unification of deployments.”

—Mariusz Tomczyk

DevOps can be found somewhere on the knife’s edge of digital transformation—experts and markets are starting to see it. The result is a greater demand for excellent engineers. Jakub Grządzielski is among those who sing praises of DevOps.

“DevOps is prone to continuous developments and enhancements, making this an exciting time to join the profession. The practical applications of DevOps are increasing day by day. DevOps has established itself as an indispensable software development methodology for successful digital transformation.”

—Jakub Grządzielski

For the enthusiasts of SaaS and those DevOps proponents who look boldly into the future, Junior Godoi has a warning about balance.

“Our main obstacle right now is simplicity. We are fortunate to live in a time where we have ‘anything as a service,’ which helps you focus on your core business and save time, offloading things to some app that will take care of it. As great as this sounds, it can quickly create an environment where information, logs, and triggers are spread everywhere. Making sure you are focused on your core business while balancing what you are buying against what you are building is critical and can have a long-term impact on your product.”

—Junior Godoi

Strategic thinking about DevOps is also important for Mark van Lent, who steps away from the simplistic role of an implementation sergeant to a true DevOps general who oversees a whole IT army.

“It’s about realizing your work is part of a bigger picture and you are part of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. And this group is bigger than just the Dev and Ops teams. It also includes Sales, Legal, HR, etc.”

—Mark van Lent

A prepared approach to the future

We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t test our experts with several questions about the future of DevOps. Unsurprisingly, they coped well with denoting current trends and even dared at some predictions as to the future.

Piotr Pawłowski calls out the important shift of thinking that is currently taking place in DevOps. He also explains why looking for a “DevOps guy” may not be the best idea.

“I believe that soon DevOps will finally be recognized more as a methodology of work instead of a role. We still need SRE guys, cloud or network engineers. One person cannot be an expert in all of those fields. However, bringing them together and applying to the DevOps working pattern will bring more benefits instead of hiring a ‘DevOps guy.’”

—Piotr Pawłowski

For Marcelo Grebois, the current shift is about platform engineering. Does this mean less development and more versatility for engineers?

“In terms of opportunities and career development, I see an increased demand for platform engineers. The responsibilities are being redistributed from [software] developers to platform engineers. So definitely a lot of work on the horizon.”

—Marcelo Grebois

Lastly, we couldn’t fail to mention the cloud. Piotr Korlaga places all DevOps professionals as leaders in transforming IT environments.

“A DevOps engineer is often chosen as the technical leader in the process of transformation, which is based on implementing the so-called ‘DevOps culture.’ It relies on automation, CI/CD processes, and migration to the cloud.”

—Piotr Korlaga

Emil Krawczak voices more concern about the future, although the market gap he mentions can be an opportunity to build on in your DevOps career or recruitment.

“If I were to predict the future, I’d say it is difficult. Currently, the market suffers from a scarcity of experienced specialists. This shows how high the entry threshold is and why the salaries have risen so high. It may be possible in the future that AI will step in to alleviate the staff shortages.”

—Emil Krawczak

5 most sought-after traits of a DevOps specialist

The applications of DevOps are numerous and the demand for talented engineers is growing. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced DevOps technician, you might be wondering what traits can help boost your DevOps career.

Our experts have singled out 5 key characteristics that build up your chances to be successful in the DevOps environment. Following their advice might help you understand why DevOps can be an interesting option for knowledge-hungry IT specialists.

We grouped their input into discrete areas, which you may take as your goals in personal development or when assembling a team.

1. Willingness to learn and a passion to develop after hours

This might not come as a surprise, but readiness to learn is absolutely key to comprehensive development in DevOps. The area is continuously evolving and covers a wide spectrum of skills.

The more time you devote to improving your soft and hard skills, the closer you’ll get to an ideal DevOps engineer.

“I’d say that to achieve success as a DevOps [engineer], you need to have a will to learn, develop, and be very persistent. This sector of IT is developing so quickly that you cannot easily stay on track with everything new. It is not enough to learn at work, you need to show engagement after hours, as well.”

—Emil Krawczak

A successful DevOps engineer also draws deeply from solid motivation and teamwork of the whole business.

“In my opinion, the main characteristics of the DevOps culture are collaboration and empathy.”

—Mark van Lent

2. Analytical and strategic approach

As important as system administration or development skills are, they will be of little use without seeing the bigger picture. For a DevOps engineer, project strategy and careful analysis are indispensable weapons to succeed.

“The key to success in DevOps is to have an analytical and strategic approach. You have to analyze the project first and decide what tools and approaches will fit best. You can know tools and cloud solutions, but without knowledge of when to use them, you will not be a successful player in the DevOps way of working.”

—Piotr Pawłowski

3. Joining practice and theory

What you can learn from books and research should be supplemented by practical experience if you’re to board the ship to success in DevOps. The ability to put theory into practice will remain your secret power all along the progress you make.

Mariusz Tomczyk stresses the importance of versatility and points to Python as a stepping stone in DevOps engineering.

“In DevOps, Python is a huge bonus in automation processes. Everyone interested in this path of development should know a broad range of tools and specialize in at least one area of Dev or Ops. It is not especially surprising to say that personal success is mainly coined by the link of exercise and practice.”

—Mariusz Tomczyk

4. Joining development and operations in experience

Once you’ve already covered some ground in your IT career, you’ll realize parts of it may serve you well in DevOps. The experience you draw from SysOps or a programming language you know will come in handy when facing DevOps challenges.

“As everyone knows (or maybe not?), DevOps joins the world of admins (SysOps) with the world of programmers/developers (Dev). The easiest way to enter this world is to have experience in both worlds. As an admin, you can use your experience in scripting, and as a developer, your experience in setting up local infrastructure for testing.”

—Emil Krawczak

Confirming the same needs for adaptability, Piotr Korlaga gives an outline of what an ideal DevOps engineer prides themselves in.

“A DevOps [engineer] should have skills of building infrastructure, handling automation, programming, and system administration. The ideal candidate is a mixture of competencies that programmers, admins, and network guys have.”

—Piotr Korlaga

5. Focus and clarity of specialization

The final piece of advice from Marcelo Grebois may seem to be going against the grain of former encouragement. The Toptal engineer highlights simplicity and staying up to date.

“Try to make things easy. Always think about automation, keep all infrastructure as code, and stay up-to-date.”

—Marcelo Grebois

In a world of emerging technologies, it may be beneficial for you to focus on a narrower range of specialization and stay focused.

“Use automation tools such as Ansible, Terraform, etc. If you don’t want to be left behind, you need to adjust to the nonstop moving ahead and change.”

—Roman Kamiński

Final thoughts on why you should choose DevOps and what makes a great DevOps engineer

DevOps is an all-embracing culture. Once you apply the methodology to your way of working, you’ll quickly notice how it spreads across multiple projects or even your entire organization. More and more time and employee capacity is released as the presence of DevOps grows, leaving plenty of space for managers to think bigger in terms of human resources and knowledge sharing.

Our experts have shown that a good range of hard skills as well as a talent for joining theory and practice are what makes a precious find on the job market. Combined with strategic analysis and a researched path of development, they will guide you to success.

Thank you for reading our article. Is the question of “why DevOps” still your concern? Are you looking to become or hire a great DevOps engineer? If so, we recommend you try some further reading:

At STX Next, we’re aware of the central role Python plays in DevOps, facilitating process automation and improving project progress. We’ve been on the market since 2005 and have 200+ Python developers on board ready to help you with your challenges.

You can make use of our expertise and experience by way of team augmentation or end-to-end development. Feel free to reach out to us with any DevOps or Python needs you may have.

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