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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

What is DevOps?

What is DevOps?

I often get asked what is it that I actually do, from both people within the Tech industry as well as outside and I dont always have a simple explanation for that, so I thought I should try and write this down. What is it that I do and what is this DevOps thing really?

A Wikipedia article about the subject (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DevOps) starts out by defining it as:

DevOps is a set of software development practices that combine software development (Dev) and information-technology operations (Ops) to shorten the systems-development life cycle while delivering features, fixes, and updates frequently in close alignment with business objectives.

And that pretty much describes it pretty well, but lets try and boil it down and talk about what kind of tasks you would be doing and what kind of technologies and software you would use. Now this is going to be from my personal experience, yours might differ but the basic principles should be there.

Tasks for a DevOps engineer

Local development

  • Create a local development platform.
    • Set up a local development environment in a Virtual machine (like Virtualbox with Vagrant) or Docker for Developers to copy and run and develop their applications in.
    • Set up a skeleton of one of the applications/frameworks that the Developers work with to develop in.
    • Document the above setup and make it easy to get started, preferably with one, or a few commands.


  • Setup CI servers and deployjobs to make it super easy to deploy, with as little hands-on for each deploy as possible. Using tools like:
  • Setup test servers that run tests when the CI deployjob runs at every commit or before a deployment for example.
  • Setup security checks in CI deployjobs.
    • Something like sensiolabs/security-checker to scan for vulnerabilities in Symfony components in Symfony based applications.
    • Something like Clair to scan Docker containers for vulnerabilities.


Logging and Monitoring

  • Setup servers for aggregated Logging using something like:
  • Setup monitoring for your infrastructure with tools like.
  • Setup monitoring for your applications with tools like:


  • Setup backups for files and databases in Cronjobs.
  • Setup mailservers.
  • Do regular security maintainence on all the infrastructure.


Communication is key!

One of the things you defninitly need as a DevOps enginner is communication skills, you are going to have to talk to a lot of people in your daily job with everyone from Developers to Customers, your IT partners, your customers IT partners, Project leaders and Managers. Since what you do is touching everything from local development up to the production infrastructure you affect them all and you need to work together and be open and transparent about all this.

In conclution

Is this a complete list of what you do as a DevOps engineer? No, but its a start and its very much colored from my personal experience and I would go back to the Wikipedia quote, it’s all about making delievery of your applications from 0 to 100 as automatic and easy as possible.

All you need is me!

And trying and have that mindset throughout all the software and infrastructure you use, always think “can we automate this process?” and “can we make this part of the repository and make it more transparent?” so whenever you quit your job for new adventures our you get hit by a bus your company is Not screwed because you where the only one who knew how “..that odd server was setup”.

So I hope that was helpful in understanding what a DevOps engineer does, do you agree or have anything to add, please be vocal and make your voice heard in the comments below.