So you’re a grad and you’re looking for learning opportunities to gain knowledge and experience on how companies in the real world work? That’s not an easy task and certainly it does not just happen. Many companies won’t trust you with real tasks unless you have some experience, but where and how to start?
The environment is particularly challenging for grads at the moment because the frameworks and processes that companies are using are changing fast, so it can be hard to understand what skills are required. For example, a recent study in the UK showed that 12 million people and a million small businesses do not have the skills they need for our digital age (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34570344).
Traditional IT skillsets like ITIL and PRINCE2 project management are still in strong demand but there are also some new kids on the block. Today, I wanted to tell you a little bit about DevOps, because learning about it could help you tackle this skills issue. I think DevOps is currently one of the most relevant sets of professional practices, so let me tell you why.
What is DevOps?
When people are talking about DevOps they are not referring to the operations of running IT software development. DevOps is a word-design consisting of development and operations. The culture and practices found in DevOps are positioned at the intersection of Quality Assurance (QA), Technology Operations (such that would potentially leverage the ITIL process framework), and Development (as in software engineering). This is not just another new methodology. Recently I also saw that Gartner predicts a strong growth of adoption for DevOps in the near future as well.
DevOps is mostly utilized by IT professionals within enterprises, but can also be found in smaller organizations. Some of the primary objectives of DevOps is to strive for improved deployment frequency, so you can faster hit the market or internal user base, lower failure rate when deploying new releases, shortened lead-time between incident or bug fixes, and faster recovery time in case a new release would be crashing or disrupting the service in another way. These simplified processes become increasingly programmable, maximizing the predictability, efficiency, security, and maintainability of operational processes. Very often, automation supports this objective.
Worst Case Scenario of the Real World
Let’s think of some of the worst case scenario outcomes of bad practices at the intersection of developing teams and operation teams. A project is maybe required to fulfil regulatory requirements or a centrally driven improvement program. The requirements are not properly specified and only a minimum of information is captured in the documentation. Based on these specifications, the developers and the project manager build a project plan to account for proper progression of the work effort. The operational teams are not provided with sufficient time in order to give appropriate input into the requirements and later they miss to join the UAT (user acceptance testing) with sufficient time. Due to the lack of complaints, all functions are signed off and the solution is staged into production. The operational user base is now provided with the information about the new tool and they don’t work with it because it has absolutely no value for them.
The sponsors and stakeholders close the project as the regulatory objectives are achieved, and the operational team continues to do their work as before. It doesn’t take a genius to tell that right now really nobody is happy with the outcome of this project. The sponsor spent a lot of money and will never see a return on the investment ever. The developers are upset because nobody is going to use their solution. The project manager is depressed because it didn’t really matter how well the project was managed. The user base is absolutely irritated, don’t know what to use the new solution for and after a week they stop trying. This project could be as simple as taking four weeks with only a handful of people involved or it could be very complex and delicate, taking up to two years development time and could affect thousands of users. In the end this will only change the number on the spent money measured against missing value add.
How to Be Better than That
What a nightmare, right? If you’re a grad and have mostly theoretical knowledge of this subject you might think I’m over-exaggerating, but some of you from the real world might feel very familiar with this scenario. Projects like this are happening in some organizations and they end like that as well.
If you can leverage DevOps culture and practices you don’t buy into a success guarantee. Everyone still needs to do their work diligently and it’s not less work if you apply DevOps. However with these practices in mind, you shift the threshold of “what”, “how”, and “ok” significantly to establish a better collaboration baseline between the separated realms of development teams and operational staff.
If you want to learn more about DevOps I strongly suggest you to check out a DevOps Foundation online training course to understand all the details on this subject and get a certificate. You could either do that to support your CV before you go on the job hunt, or you can check with your employer if they support staff doing training. Commonly managers and team-leads are positively surprised by proactive and independent requests for training. Maybe they will find DevOps relevant as well and can save if they let more than three learners join the course.
Just One Focus Area Is Good but Not Optimal
If you’re a recent graduate or looking to make a career change into IT, you could take a look at a package of training courses. E-learning specialists ITSM Zone are creating role based packages for IT professionals and those who are new to IT.
Foundations for Professionals New to IT includes ITIL and PRINCE2 (which many employers see as a minimum requirement) plus DevOps training, so you will be fully aware of new ways of working in IT and in a position to suggest improvements to ways of working. Make sure to check out the Foundations for Professionals package, for all people who are new to IT. It consists of DevOps, ITIL and PRINCE2.
You feel intrigued by that? If you have interest in a Foundation for Professionals package or if you already did your training and want to share your story, I would love to know about your experiences in the comments section below. Many thanks for reading!
YouTube: DevOps Intro Lesson
Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg / Process graphics by TechAcute
Editorial note: This article was developed together with and sponsored by ITSM Zone.