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John Mitchell
John Mitchell

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Advice for new DevOps

New Developers and DevOps Engineers ask me for career advice. It's not always clear what skills are useful in the market, and which jobs are fun and rewarding.

Move adjacent to do Security work

You're a professional looking to for a niche in the market. All companies need security help, and they know it, and will pay for it. Help them.

Often (feature) Developers see security as a distraction from building features, so working with companies to ensure they have strong security is a good career move.

I worked with a bank building a "secure cloud" on top of a public cloud. That is, our team got a long list of requirements, like "storage buckets encrypted at rest". Our software watched for cloud changes, then alert or fix the issue. The bank got to use the public cloud, but also had a much finer-grained control of a lot of security concerns.

The project was easy enough (accept events, parse them, make API calls), but it produced a ton of value for the bank.

For me it was extra fun. I'm writing a book on Feedback Loops. For the bank project they had 1) unit tests (fast dev feedback), 2) pre-canned event tests (same), 3) BDD-style integration tests (slow, quality feedback). In addition I wrote a custom security linter. The bank could say "all EKS clusters now need an extra encryption parameter", and my code would scan 500 different security plugins for the relevant code. We could go in and fix 10 plugins vs 500, it was much easier.

If you're a Dev or DevOps Engineer, consider doing Security work. It's very rewarding and always needed by businesses.

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