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Jonathan Hall
Jonathan Hall

Posted on • Originally published at jhall.io on

No, you're not doing DevOps

My Google news feed recently popped up an article by Don MacVittie over on DevOps.com, entitled Yes, You’re Doing DevOps.

I must say, despite a few valid points in the article (more on that in a moment), I’m quite disappointed to see DevOps purveying such a skewed interpretation of “DevOps.”

Let me break it down.

The main thesis of the article is: Many devs use deployment tools, and this means they’re doing DevOps whether they recognize it or not. As evidence, MacVittie points to the recent StackOverflow 2021 Developer Survey:

Docker, Kubernetes and similar tools make up more of the responses than can be accounted for by people with “DevOps” in their title.

What? DevOps in the job title? Although opinions are mixed, most people serious about DevOps agree that this term does not belong in a job title. Even other DevOps.com authors make this case in in various ways(1, 2). But whether “DevOps” belongs in a title or not is somewhat beside the point if our goal is analytics: The simple fact that a significant portion of the industry believes it does not belong in a title should be enough not to use this as a meaningful metric.

Second, MacVittie is looking at the use of tools as a proxy for “doing DevOps.” If there’s one thing that unites even those on opposing sides of the job title debate, it’s that DevOps is not a set of tools.

So with these two (very serious) caveats out of the way, let me address the one point where I (partly) agree with the author:

If your title is developer, and you’re using deployment tools on a regular basis, go ahead and call yourself DevOps.

This is a valid point, although only to a point.

DevOps is often said to be a mindset. I like to make this more concrete by saying DevOps is simply cooperation. If Dev and Ops aren’t cooperating toward a common goal, you’re not doing DevOps. Put another way, if there’s a hand-off between Dev and Ops, you’re not doing DevOps.

In that sense, any developer using deployment tools is doing DevOps, since there’s no hand-off taking place.

However, that does not mean that the team is doing DevOps. Just because I know how to write a Dockerfile to test my React frontend doesn’t mean there’s not a hand-off to get my finalized feature in front of customers.

That said, as an individual developer, if you’re looking to move into a more Operations-focused role, the best thing you can do is to start learning some deployment tools (like Docker). In this sense, the article is aboslutely correct. Regardless of whether your team is doing DevOps, as long as you are doing Development and Operations, in my view, you can legitimately put “DevOps” experience on your résumé and LinkedIn profile.


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Discussion (5)

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bacloud14 profile image
bacloud14

Agreed. I was working on a big data project for three years. The back-end is critical because it involves bills. The guy who was in charge of DevOps (although I admit I don't know his recruitment status) was doing literally 1/10 of our effort (us developers).
I was there after the project infrastructure has been established of course, but yet, the guy was doing barely nothing in a permanent job.
In daily meetings, he is dangling between: the query of yesterday is still running, or, I'm still waiting for the other team to share SSH keys or so.
The thing for me is that, No DevOps should be recruited for a full time contract unless you are working for a giant evolving IT product, like for Google or Microsoft or something. Otherwise, when infra is there, there is no need for a full-time devOps in most cases./
Also I would rather call the guy running infra, a network guy?.

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tinydevops profile image
Jonathan Hall Author

You've touched on another issue: "DevOps" should never be considered a job title. It's a way of working that involves developers and operations. If you had a "DevOps guy", it's a very strong indicator that he and/or the company didn't actually understand DevOps in the first place!

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bacloud14 profile image
bacloud14

agreed. It goes in most cases like: let's make a complete team, developers, data-scientists, devOps, business analysts... to have a sens of security. Of course, this is not wise. The manager should have some technical knowledge or at least rely on experimented tech leads in his team to recruit new people not to pour money for nothing or to have an unbalanced team.

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bacloud14 profile image
bacloud14 • Edited

because especially with micro diplomas, and new licence-master-doctorat reforms in some francophone countries and similar academic systems. One person can have a very different set of skills.

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bacloud14 profile image
bacloud14

network guy, because I admit that not all developers are expected to know how to connect machines together or to the cloud?. Anyway, DevOps seem to be an inter-section of many skills.