Today, most businesses are utilizing the power of the cloud to cater to customers; it is no surprise that demand for DevOps engineers has skyrocketed. From setting up entire environment infrastructures in the cloud or on-premise to automation of processes, the responsibilities of a DevOps engineer are quite vast.
In this article, we will be going through the seven essential skills you need to become a great DevOps engineer in 2023. This should help you understand the key role of DevOps and point you to different technologies that you need to focus on learning.
Being a DevOps engineer requires proficiency in many different tools. Let’s go through each of the seven major categories each DevOps engineer should be skilled at.
1. Linux Operating System
First on our list is the Linux Operating System. The majority of the servers, either in the cloud or bare metal, are powered by Linux distributions. The reason is simple. It's free, has a small footprint, has a gigantic community, and its stability and security are far ahead of any other operating system available today. Since DevOps commonly deals with handling different kinds of servers, chances are the majority of them would be running in Linux.
Here are the main topics that you’ll need to learn in this category:
- Bash scripting
- Cronjobs or Crontab (Task scheduler)
- Networking (Firewall and connectivity)
- Basic file system and navigation
- File and content search
- SSH and storage
If you don’t have an idea of what some of these are, it’s OK! Anything unknown at this moment can definitely be learned.
If you’re new and want to get started with learning the Linux Operating System, KodeKloud has a great Linux beginners course, it covers Linux basics and has labs that you can access from your browser that will allow you to quickly absorb and learn. If you’re more on the seasoned side and want to further improve or validate your skills in the subject, you can opt to get the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator Certification.
This certificate is globally recognized and will be a great addition to your career as a DevOps engineer. KodeKloud also offers an amazing preparation course that can help you nail this certification with flying colors.
If you're not sure of where to start, you can refer to the Linux learning path to help you understand the order to take these courses.
2. Programming Language
Part of your task as a DevOps engineer would be creating a lot of different scripts. That’s why learning a programming language is necessary. In the DevOps community, there are two languages that are at the top of the list, Golang and Python.
Why Learn Golang
Golang or Go is an open-source programming language supported by Google. Its syntax is simple and clean, making it easier to learn for beginners. One of the main features of Go is concurrency and automated garbage collection. Concurrency is the ability to process lines of code in parallel and in a multi-threaded fashion. Python also is able to attain concurrency, but only through the use of other libraries.
Go achieves concurrency natively, making it faster, and the automated garbage collection capability ensures its lightweight state and stability. Another reason you should learn the Go language is that DevOps tools, such as Docker, Kubernetes, Terraform, and Grafana, are written in Go. Having the ability to understand how these tools work under the hood will allow you to troubleshoot faster and even add more features to your tools.
Learn Golang the KodeKloud way: with video lectures, demos, exercises, and hands-on labs right on your browser. This course requires zero experience in programming or coding.
Why Learn Python
Python has been around for many years now, and it’s one of the most versatile languages to date. It’s easy to learn due to its syntax, and there’s a lot you can do with it. Here’s a summary of what you can do with Python:
- Web Development
- Software automation and testing
- Machine Learning
- Data Analytics
Now, of course, you are not required to learn all of these. What you should focus on as a DevOps engineer is scripting, software automation and testing, and, lastly, web development. These are the areas where as a DevOps engineer, you'll most likely be working on.
Now, you don’t need any coding experience to be able to get started with learning Python. Getting certified in Python will definitely take you far and will open opportunities in your DevOps career. A certification will validate that your Python skills are up to the global standards set by the Python Institute.
If you want to get started learning Python, KodeKloud has courses that will help you prepare for both PCEP and PCAP.
For PCEP – Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer certification.
It will be beneficial to learn both of these programming languages. If you are not sure which one to start first, don't worry! KodeKloud has got you covered. You can follow the KodeKloud programming learning path and start adding programming to your skills-set!
3. GIT Versioning
GIT is a version control software that’s commonly used to store and keep track of any changes to your source code. In DevOps, you’ll mostly be working with application code repositories, script files, and infrastructure manifest or definition files. All of which would be stored in git repositories. This allows you to maintain and monitor any changes that have been made and also easily revert back to any version in case of issues. This makes the application or infrastructure more stable and able to recover from crashes.
You don’t need to have advanced knowledge in GIT, but just enough for you to be able to pull and push code to the repository. Learning GIT is a must for any position that’s IT-related and that includes DevOps engineers. The popular repositories in this aspect are GitHub and GitLab both have great different features further empowering your repositories to even handle the deployment of your applications.
If you're someone who’s not yet familiar with the subject or just wants to refresh their knowledge in GIT, KodeKloud has a fantastic beginner course that includes everything you need to learn to get started with using GIT in your workflow.
4. CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) Tools
CI/CD tools are used to automate the interaction from the software developer pushing code to your repository to the deployment of the said code changes to their respective environments. This, in turn, speeds up the process of delivering software to your end users.
In DevOps, where automation is key to every process, learning CI/CD tools is a must. Here’s a list of the DevOps community's top 5 most widely used CI/CD tools:
- Jenkins: An open-source automation server. It helps automate the parts of software development related to building, testing, and deploying, facilitating continuous integration and continuous delivery.
- GitLab: A central DevOps platform. It helps you automate your code's builds, integration, and verification.
- CircleCI: A CI/CD tool that supports rapid software development and publishing. It allows automation across the user’s pipeline, from code building and testing to deployment.
- TeamCity: This is a CI/CD server offering from JetBrains, makers of heavily robust IDE such as PyCharm and PHPStorm.
- Bamboo: This is a continuous integration build server from Atlassian which performs an automatic build, test, and release in a single place.
You don’t have to learn all the tools listed here, as this usually depends on many factors. One is that the company may already have an existing infrastructure built on one of these CI/CD tools. It’s beneficial to at least have some basic idea of all of them. However, if you’re just starting out there’s nothing wrong with going for the most prominent tool which is Jenkins.
Jenkins has been around for a long time and also has a large community behind it. It also has a huge library of plugins that provides answers to most of the features you’re looking for in CI/CD. KodeKloud has a complete Jenkins course. It covers everything you need to know to get started with the most popular CI/CD tool.
5. Infrastructure-as-code (IaC)
Infrastructure as code is an infrastructure management approach where your software infrastructure is defined or created using manifest files. Gone are the days when IT Administrators or DevOps engineers set up servers by manually installing packages or applications for the server to be provisioned. With IaC, we define each attribute or property of how we want the server to be in a small text file, and then an IaC tool automatically spins up a server based on the values declared.
This allows servers to be set up in seconds. It also allows hundreds or even thousands of servers to be uniformly provisioned in a short amount of time from a single manifest file.
Here are the top 5 most popular IAC tools:
- Terraform: It is one of the widely used IAC tools. It’s supported by top cloud providers such as AWS, GCP, and Azure.
- Ansible: It is open-source software provisioning, configuration management, and application-deployment tool enabling infrastructure as code.
- Chef - is an IAC automation tool written and built on the Ruby language
- Puppet - It is an IaC that enables you to deploy and manage infrastructure with ease.
- AWS CloudFormation - This is an AWS IAC service offering.
For this category, you don’t have to gain expertise in all of these, but it will be helpful if you at least are able to cover the basics for each one. This way, it will be easier for you to adapt to any tools that you come across, as this may become different depending on what’s currently being used by your company. The great thing about these tools is that they’re easy to learn since they all follow the core concept of IAC. If you wish to learn the basics, you can refer to these great courses from KodeKloud:
If you wish to gain a deeper knowledge of these tools or are interested in getting certified, Terraform and Ansible have certifications available. Go the extra mile and further validate your skills. These courses from KodeKloud can help you prepare for the certification:
Now, that's a lot of tools to learn in this category. It might be confusing for someone starting out which tool to learn first. Fortunately, KodeKloud already prepared a great IaC learning path that's logically organized.
6. Containers and Container Orchestration
Software containerization has become the mainstream method of building and deploying applications. It allows your software to be packaged with all the dependencies required to run. There are many containerization tools out in the market, but the most popular one is Docker.
Understanding how containers work and how they are built is a very integral skill for DevOps engineers. Since most software applications are now served in containers, containers will likely be a part of the entire DevOps infrastructure in your company.
To start learning Docker, enroll in our Docker Training Course for the Absolute Beginner.
If you’re already familiar with Docker and want to delve into advanced topics and get certified, you can check out KodeKloud Docker Certified Associate Exam Course. These two courses will prepare you for everything you need to know to be an expert with containers.
Container Orchestration is the automated process of managing and running your container services or applications. It deals with deployment, load balancing, and scaling, enabling your software infrastructure to have high availability, resilience, and the ability to recover from any crashes or failures. One of the popular tools for orchestrating your containers is Kubernetes.
Kubernetes has many features to offer and can be quite complex once you get into the advanced features. But, once you have gained proficiency with containerization tools like Docker, you should be able to grasp quickly what Kubernetes is all about. To start learning Kubernetes, enroll in our Kubernetes for the Absolute Beginners course.
7. Cloud Platforms
Businesses have been moving towards cloud platforms for some time now. Cloud platforms answer most, if not all, of the issues of on-premise infrastructure. This includes the high cost of hardware, scalability challenges, and complex maintenance, further adding up the charges. With cloud platforms, most of these high overhead problems are maintained by the actual provider, leaving the business to focus on the application and data itself. The pay-as-you-use model with these cloud platforms allows companies to scale up and down their services as needed to attain cost-efficiency while providing great quality software.
As a DevOps engineer, you’ll most likely be working with cloud providers to build the foundation for your infrastructure. Having the knowledge and the skills necessary to develop, manage, and utilize the different services offered by cloud platforms is a very important skill. Learning cloud platforms is all about gaining proficiency and familiarity with the different services within their platform. This, in turn, allows you to determine the exact service that will be suitable to solve a particular requirement cost-efficiently.
Here are the most popular cloud platforms that you should add to your skill set as a DevOps engineer:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
- Microsoft Azure
If you’re already working as a DevOps engineer, chances are that the company you’re working for already has an infrastructure running on either of these platforms. It’s also possible to have multi-cloud platforms. The best approach would be to gain further knowledge of what's already available or used by your company.
KodeKloud's Cloud learning path has courses that will introduce you to the inner workings of the AWS popular offerings ECS and AWS Lambda.
The path also has courses that will help you prepare for certifications such as:
It is recommended to gain enough (just to cover the basics) knowledge in all of them. This gives you the flexibility to work in any cloud platform, further amplifying your credibility as a DevOps engineer.
Once you have gained proficiency in the major categories in this article, I would recommend focusing on improving on these next.
- Package Managers for popular programming languages - This ties in with building containers as it requires being able to understand how each application written in different languages is built. Having a bit of knowledge in these allows you to be able to quickly build applications in containers ready for production.
- PyPi for Python
- Maven or Gradle for Java
- Composer for PHP
- Web Servers - As more services are served in web applications, either in mobile form or computer, a DevOps engineer may be required to set up web servers and apply the proper configuration.
- Communication skills, both written and verbal - This skill will be very valuable, especially in job interviews. DevOps engineers would sometimes be required to perform some kind of reporting, maybe a performance report or a cost-analysis report. Being able to convey this complex, jargon-heavy information in a format that’s easy to understand by your non-technical managers or supervisors can be one of the challenges you’d have to face.
From this article, you can see why DevOps engineers are highly paid and highly sought after. The sheer amount of technical prowess they deal with daily speaks volumes about the value they add to any company.
This article should provide the guidance you’ll need to get started if you aim for a career in DevOps. If you are in the industry already, this could also serve as a checklist of what you’ll need to work on next to improve your skills further.
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