DevOps seems to be the new buzz role in the industry at present. People who can bridge the gap between the worlds of development and IT pros. Given my career history this could be a description of the path I took. I have done both, and now sit in the middle covering ALM consultancy where I work with both roles. You can’t avoid a bit of development and a bit of IT pro work when installing and configuring TFS with some automated build and deployment.
The growth of DevOps is an interesting move because of late I have seen the gap between IT Pros and developers grow. Many developers seem to have less and less understanding of operational issues as times go on. I fear this is a due to the greater levels of abstractions that new development tools cause. This is only going to get worse was we move into the cloud, why does a developer need to care about Ops issues, AppFabric does that for them – doesn’t it?
In my view this is dangerous, we all need at least a working knowledge of what underpins the technology we use. Maybe this should hint at good subjects for informal in-house training, why not get your developers to give intro training to the IT pros and vice versa? Or encourage people to listen to podcasts on the other roles subjects such as Dot Net Rocks (a dev podcast) and Run As Radio (an IT pro podcast). It was always a nice feature of the TechEd conference that it had a dev and IT pro track, so if the fancy took you could hear about technology from the view of the the other role.
However, these are longer term solutions, it is all well and good promoting these but in the short term who is best placed to bridge this gap now?
I think the answer could be testers, I wrote a post a while ago that it was great to be a tester as you got to work with a wide range of technologies, isn’t this just an extension of this role. DevOps needs a working understanding of development and operations, as well as a good knowledge of deployment and build technologies. All aspects of the tester role, assuming your organisation considers a tester not to be a person who just ticks boxes on a check list, but a software development engineer working in test.
This is not to say that DevOps and testers are the same, just that there is some commonality and so you may have more skills in house than you thought you did. DevOps is not new, someone was doing the work already, they just did not historically give it that name (or probably any name)