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A DevOps developer should be adaptable, creative

Unlike in the past, companies don't necessarily look to hire developers with hard technology skills. DevOps is changing the rules, so, for developers, it's time to get creative.

DevOps developers have long focused on technology, but with feedback loops and automation becoming more and more essential in DevOps, Agile and SaaS operations, the developer role has started to change.

As someone who has worked in the recruitment sector for over a decade, I have a mental picture of the typical developer -- enthusiastic, hugely knowledgeable, focused, but usually not the most creative. That could seem unfair, but it isn't that far from the truth. Development teams have had to spend huge amounts of time and energy on low-level problems. Availability issues, scale and security concerns have filled up the inbox. These are time-consuming tasks that keep DevOps developers in the trenches.

Prior to the adoption of serverless environments and DevOps, tech teams focused on technology. If it was on-premises and expensive, then your published product had to be right. Because companies invested so much capital in these products, the development department was averse to risk.

Start with users and expand your thinking

That picture is changing. On a recent episode of Tech Talks, the podcast I've hosted for two years, I met Ranjdar Abass. He is interim head of development at Settled, the property tech, or PropTech, startup aiming to change the housing market. Most people will buy and sell a home at some point, probably on a number of occasions. So Settled has a diverse and ever-changing customer base with changing needs. Therefore, Abass and his team can't afford to let technology limitations dictate their business. UX has to be at the heart of the business.

Because companies invested so much capital in these products, the development department was averse to risk.

As he explained, the aim is not to build one beautiful product, but a product that is simply good enough to use and just about love. DevOps, Agile and SaaS then allow for tighter feedback loops and help the organization make better decisions.

The effect on the DevOps developer is dramatic, and it's an industrywide shift in development focus. We've cut the time-consuming, low-level tasks from the inbox. A development team won't have to worry about availability, scale and security anymore, as your vendor does that for you. DevOps developers have time to be creative, free their minds and think about the user.

It's a welcome change. Only a couple of years ago, the common complaint was that development was too far removed from users. New tech and DevOps workflows are bringing them together. That is ultimately great news for the user, but it also delivers a whole new range of opportunities to the dev team.

The industry is changing, so change the way you think

If you're a DevOps developer, you have to embrace this change in thinking. Companies such as Settled look for people who can offer ideas and bring something new to the table. As new tools speed up the rate of change and drive technology to new places, you need to have a free-thinking attitude that adds value to your business. Technologists' hard skills will be relevant for only two to three years, so it follows that attitude and adaptability take on greater significance with each new cycle.

That's the type of engineer Abass is after. It's a challenge, but also an opportunity.

This was last published in July 2018

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