Interest in DevOps has risen by 167% over the past five years—and it's showing no signs of slowing down. As more and more teams seek to bridge the gap between development and operations, many are struggling to grapple with the tangled mess of tools, processes, and ideals that is DevOps.
One of the main contributors to this confusion is knowing what roles make up a DevOps team.If that sounds like you, don't worry! Instatus is here to help.
In this guide, we've outlined nine key DevOps roles that are essential for a successful and efficient DevOps team. Ready? Let’s dive in.
To understand DevOps as a concept, it’s helpful to think of it as the intersection of two disciplines:
Development: The engineering process of creating and maintaining software applications.
Operations: The practice of managing and running services that enable the development team to deploy reliable software quickly.
These two disciplines come together to form DevOps—a fast-paced process for understanding customer needs and delivering software that meets them. DevOps breaks down organizational silos and encourages collaboration between the different teams within a company. The result is a more efficient and streamlined workflow.
DevOps enables developers to release and test features faster, which in turn reduces the amount of time it takes for new features to reach users.
How? Because the entire DevOps philosophy is built around supporting Continuous Integration and Continuous Development (CI/CD). This allows development teams to quickly push code into production, giving them the ability to make changes quickly and test them for bugs or other issues even faster.
With a siloed team, it's easy for individuals (and entire departments) to find scapegoats and avoid taking responsibility for the experiences of end-users.
With a DevOps team, everyone is responsible for the entire system—from development to operations. This helps create a sense of shared responsibility, which increases overall team accountability.
Siloed developers are part of a greater system. They sometimes have a hard time recognizing how their actions affect that greater system, though. That can lead to unintended knock-on effects and wasted time.
On a DevOps team, everyone is much more aware of the entire system and how their work will affect other developers, end-users, and the product as a unified entity. This creates a culture of collaboration and encourages teams to work together on mutually beneficial solutions rather than quick fixes that become someone else’s problem.
DevOps teams are an integral part of any organization—but there isn't one, single way they can fit within an organization’s overall structure. Instead, there are a few dominant approaches:
This is probably the most popular approach to DevOps. Here, a DevOps team is embedded within an organization’s existing development team or IT operations team—sometimes both.
This approach allows the DevOps team to have direct access to the system they’re working on and removes any communication barriers between them and the development team.
Organizations may also choose to go with a standalone DevOps team. This approach works well for organizations that don’t have strong development or operations teams already, since the standalone DevOps team can take on some of the shared workload.
In organizations with strong development and operations teams, the standalone DevOps team can focus on supporting collaboration and communication between the two departments.
Some organizations may choose to use external DevOps teams or DevOps consultants. This can be helpful for organizations that don’t have the resources or technical expertise to hire and support a full-time DevOps team of their own.
An external DevOps team can provide all the experience and expertise of an in-house DevOps team without needing as much time to get the ball rolling.
Lots of organizations are starting to use Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) teams as an alternative (or supplement) to their DevOps teams.
The main difference between SRE and DevOps is that SRE focuses mainly on improving system reliability, while DevOps focuses more on improving system velocity.
That said, the main goal of both approaches is to create a robust, reliable system that can handle changes quickly and efficiently.
Ops-as-a-Service (OaaS) is a bit different from the other approaches to DevOps. OaaS is an outsourced model where organizations pay for a third party (like Cloudscale 365) to provide all of the operations services the organization needs.
This is a good option for organizations that need quick and easy access to operations services without having to hire and support their own DevOps team. It's also a good choice for organizations that need more operations services than their in-house DevOps team can provide.
Building an effective DevOps culture takes a lot of effort—especially if you're transitioning from a more traditional approach. There are tools to implement, processes to learn (and un_learn), and systems to build.
Enter the DevOps Evangelist.
The DevOps Evangelist is a leader who acts as the catalyst for a team’s DevOps journey. They are responsible for championing a DevOps culture throughout the organization, which usually includes training, mentoring, and coaching team members. They’re also a great resource for educational materials, best practices, and industry trends.
The Release Manager role is the glue that binds the development and operations teams together.
In essence, they’re the single source of truth for all the technical details associated with a release—from schedule to scope. They help ensure that the team follows all processes for releasing code, and can play a key role in preventing issues from getting out.
This role requires high-level communication and organizational skills, as well as a healthy dose of technical know-how. They should be able to bridge the gap between developers, operations teams, and stakeholders in order to make sure that all aspects of a release come together optimally.
At the start of a DevOps lifecycle, making progress along the CI/CD pipeline is a bit like walking through a dense jungle—it’s slow-going.The Automation Architect is the machete-wielding trailblazer who cuts through the overgrowth and clears a path for everyone who follows. Except in this analogy, the machete is a deep understanding of automation—including tools, scripts, and best practices.
Automation Architects work closely with the Release Managers to automate key processes, including:
That last point is a big one—without an automated system monitoring toolchain, your team won’t know when something goes wrong until it’s too late.
As soon as an outage is registered, your custom status page is updated and team members (and users) are notified via your channel(s) of choice—no need to lift a finger.
Quality Assurance (QA) has been a part of software development since the beginning. But QA isn't always enough in the DevOps world—you also need to ensure every feature, function, and update is optimized for user experience.
That's where the Experience Assurance Expert (XA) comes in. This role is responsible for creating testing scenarios that consider all the possible user actions and outcomes. They also review basic usability and functionality, as well as check for any bugs or glitches that may impede the user experience.
The software developer is at the heart of the DevOps organization. They create the actual software and applications, as well as maintain and update existing systems.
The software tester plays an important role in ensuring that all code works correctly. They’re responsible for testing every new feature or component to make sure it functions properly before it goes out into production.
Security and compliance are hugely important to the DevOps process—arguably more so than in a traditional development environment.
Why? Given the speed of DevOps deployment cycles, vulnerabilities can become huge issues in no time.
The Security & Compliance Engineer is responsible for ensuring that all systems and processes comply with industry regulations. They also identify potential risks, including data breaches or malicious code injections, and take measures to protect the system.
The Product Owner (PO) is the bridge between the DevOps team and the customer.
They’re responsible for gathering requirements, making sure all stakeholders are on board with the project, and providing feedback to the development teams. This helps ensure that they develop products that meet the needs of their customers.
The PO also serves as a voice for the customer—they represent their interests in the development process and help ensure that customer feedback is taken into account during all stages of the DevOps lifecycle.
Last but not least, the Utility Technology Player (UTP) is a bit of an enigma—they’re responsible for automating and managing all the technologies used in the DevOps lifecycle.
The UTP is a jack-of-all-trades who must be knowledgeable in various technologies, including containerization, cloud services, continuous integration tools, and more. They’re responsible for making sure that everything works in harmony and that the team is always up-to-date on the latest technologies.
They’re also responsible for building and maintaining a secure, scalable infrastructure, so that the team can move quickly without sacrificing security or reliability.
The success of any DevOps team depends on their ability to collaborate and communicate.
Instatus makes it easy for teams to monitor the status of their applications and infrastructure, so they can quickly address any issues before they become bigger problems.
With Instatus, teams can stay up-to-date on the status of their systems and get notifications when there’s an issue. Plus, they can easily communicate outages to customers, so they can provide them with the support they need.
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