5 things I’d rather do as a DevOps engineer

Elliott Spira | Wed, 29 Aug 2018

.... other than writing scripts to manipulate my resources

Time is the only commodity we cannot earn back in life. To make matters worse, it is a commodity that we are perpetually losing.

With our hours at work, we want to make sure that we triage our tasks and utilise our time for maximum leverage. We want to be as impactful as possible with our work hours for a number of reasons. We want to satisfy our customers, we want to drive value for the business and often most importantly, we want to achieve mastery in our field and feel fulfilled.

However, all too often, we find ourselves working on something awfully manual, or doing a task where we ask ourselves “surely someone has dealt with this before”, “surely there is a product for this”.

For DevOps engineers, this problem is writing scripts. Even if a DevOps engineer felt that this was a great way to spend their time, a few facts remain:

  • no other part of the business could get away with writing untested, undocumented code to run on production resources
  • maintenance headaches arise when dealing with issues around api throttling, pagination, version updates and bugs
  • disasters strike when scripts run incorrectly, especially when no logging or audit history is available

Do a technical spike around a new application architecture

Whether containerising applications as Docker containers and deploying on Kubernetes, or exploring utilising Serverless architectures, there are no shortage of awesome new toys to play with. Why not spend your time on that, rather than learning about the finest details of a cloud provider’s API.

Help a development team refactor an application

Bring your knowledge of how to tune application performance to the development teams internally. Help them find the blockages, memory leaks and hotspots in their applications to lower the load on your infrastructure. Sounds like everybody wins, and that’s before you even consider the knowledge sharing both parties will derive from the process.

Get an edge with some DBA skills

It may not seem sexy, however having good database administration chops can come in handy, whether you have an incident on your hands or just want to help apply some indexes to improve application performance. Not only will you seem like a hero, you will secretly have some fun, regardless of how much it is often categorised as being dry or dull work.

Educate your peers at an internal brownbag

Does your team do lunch and learn or brownbag sessions? If not, you could champion this practice. If so, get on the speaking circuit and share some of your knowledge. Whatever issues may be affecting your company, chances are it can be mostly addressed with education and some good procedures. Rather than trying to show them how cool your bash or python script is, you could teach them about new application architectures, how to avoid supply chain attacks when using open source dependencies or how you built the best CI/CD pipeline in the history of modern computing.

Hack at your CI/CD pipeline

Everyone loves building CI/CD pipelines. It is hard to imagine anything more gratifying (other than cost optimising your AWS – if you ask us). Review your tooling in CI/CD, find out what issues your teams are having with it and treat that like your product to manage.

What else would you rather do with your time? Let us know in our slack channel or on twitter.

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