Every production and processing revolution has brought with it a brand-new set of rules entire industries have had to adopt less they find themselves obsolete. While you’ll learn about the industrial revolutions in school not much is said about the revolution, or more precisely the shift of paradigm the internet has brought in the second decade of the 21st century. It might be because we’re still living it, so history hasn’t covered it yet, but if you stop and think how much all production, marketing, selling, and buying have changed in just the last 10-15 years.
The key in every aspect is speed. From the seller’s standpoint how fast can you develop and launch a product, followed by how fast you can improve it once you get feedback from customers (since nothing is finite these days, everything must be upgraded and enhanced over its life cycle). On the other hand, when you’re the buyer you want/expect the thing/service you’ve paid for to be accessible instantly, but you’re reasonable, so you’ll also settle for one-day delivery.
All joking aside, the worldwide availability and usage of high-speed Internet connections have made this cycle extremely efficient – information flows without delay and the only thing holding it back from running perfectly is the human factor, which simply can process that staggering amount of data so quickly.
Companies have therefore been required to make organizational decisions that lessen the system’s reliance on step-by-step manual processing, making it instead much more streamlined. One such operating model is DevOps, which handles these processes in a refreshingly new way.
What is DevOps
To put it simply, DevOps is a business organizational model that emphasizes quickly delivering apps and services to customers. This doesn’t stop with just putting the product out, but also improving it over time and following the needs of said customers (gained through direct and indirect feedback).
How does DevOps work
It’s important to note that while it can be applied to virtually any industry it’s much more suited for digital products and services compared to manufacturing. With that out of the way, let’s see what DevOps is all about.
Surprisingly, the best way to describe it is with a sports analogy. Basketball, especially the NBA, has been going through the “positionless” era. This means the roles on the court aren’t as specialized as they once were – everyone can more, or less, do everything. Of course, there will always be those that do certain things better than others, but the base skill set is more universal than ever.
Similarly, DevOps looks to forgo the traditional office diversification centered around self-functioning departments, instead replacing it with a unified development and operations team (hence, Dev – Ops) that works simultaneously on the product. There’s no wasted time with information flow, their skills intertwine instead of overlapping, and automated processes and tools are created and used. All these combined result in a much more streamlined overall process from start to finish.
The benefits of DevOps
The speed at which you can adjust both your products and your strategies to the ever-changing conditions will ultimately make your entire company much more flexible and adaptable, which is crucial in today’s fast-paced business world. Furthermore, you’ll be able to roll out updates and fixes for your products at a much higher rate addressing your customers’ problems as soon as they’ve voiced them. Take the term update here with a grain of salt, because the focus is put on smaller, more frequent changes instead of the usual x.y version update we’re used to. Meeting the requests of your customer at a faster rate, in turn, presents you as a reliable partner that emanates a pro-customer approach – a very valuable moniker to have in a world where anything below a 4.5-star user score is viewed as problematic.
The AWS DevOps engineers
The AWS (Amazon Web Services) is the perfect service for DevOps because you can take advantage of the AWS cloud, an integral infrastructural part that enables DevOps to thrive. These represent the tools, but you still need operators to handle them. Now we come to DevOps engineers, more precisely, certified AWS DevOps engineers, a position that’s in demand and therefore better compensated (DevOps engineer salary in US runs in the low six figures).
To achieve simplicity, you first need to handle complexity – while not official, it could very well be the motto of the DevOps, and subsequently AWS DevOps model. What this means is that these engineers will need to be able to quickly handle constant flows of data on the AWS platform. The position will require technical know-how, as well as management, operating, and organizational skills. Naturally, not everyone will be able to do this, at least not up to a certain standard and that’s why there are the aforementioned certified engineers. The DevOps certification represents proof that a person really can handle the workload and responsibility that comes with the position.
Studying and preparing for the exam
Just like any other exam, you’ll ever take, you’ll need to study for this one too. As with everything, there are a couple of ways to go about this. If you’re looking to do most of the studying by yourself, without tutors, there isn’t a better option than an AWS DevOps book. There are numerous options available, such as:
- AWS Automation Cookbook by Nikit Swaraj
- Continuous Delivery and DevOps – Quickstart by Paul Swartout
- Implementing DevOps on AWS by Veselin Kantsev
- Effective DevOps with AWS by Nathaniel Felson
Outside of an AWS DevOps book, you can go through a course. You’ll be provided with materials and guided through them. This is probably the most comprehensive solution preparation-wise, but it usually requires a fee, and it doesn’t guarantee you’ll pass, so there is potential to waste your money on nothing. However, since you’re paying, you’re also dictating the terms – individual lessons, or group lessons, what topics are covered, how long they’re covered (within the agreed-upon timeframe), etc.
A “special” course worth emphasizing is the free AWS training provided by Amazon. Where better to prepare, than at the source, right? There are two things worth noting, however. You’ll have access to certain sections for free, while others come at a premium. Additionally, the courses are cyclical to a degree, meaning you won’t get to access a specific course on demand, instead you’ll have to adjust to what’s being provided at the given moment. This could be troublesome if you’re looking to learn about a specific thing, only to find out that the next course is a couple of months away.
If you feel you have a good handle on most of the content and just need to brush up on certain issues and/or sections, you can consult an exam Q&A like Quora. You won’t have to sift through pages and pages of text or presentations just to find what you’re looking for. Instead, this will be a targeted query with a clear question and response. Probably the best solution for advanced users.
Once you feel you have a good handle on things you can easily test yourself through the exam practice sets. Similar to practice SAT exams, you can simulate real conditions and see where you stand without any negative repercussions. An obvious bonus is the answers sheet you can look at and compare to your answers and see where you’ve gotten it wrong.
After you’ve gone through the grinder and are ready to test your knowledge, the only thing left to do is take the exam and get your DevOps certification.
Taking the exam
Not anyone can take the exam and earn the DevOps certification, no matter how much they study. Certain qualifications need to be met:
- You should have 2 or more years of experience in operating, provisioning, and managing an AWS environment.
- It is also required to have proficiency in one advanced-level programming language.
- It is required to have an understanding of operation processes, modern development, and building highly automated infrastructure.
The exam itself is divided into 6 sections, or domains consisting of multiple-choice questions and multiple responsive questions:
- Domain 1: SDLC Automation
- Domain 2: Configuration Management and Infrastructure as Code
- Domain 3: Monitoring and Logging
- Domain 4: Policies and Standards Automation
- Domain 5: Incident and Event Response
- Domain 6: High Availability, Fault Tolerance, and Disaster Recovery
Final thought – passing the exam
When you pass the exam, you’ll become an AWS certified DevOps Engineer. You’re probably wondering why you would want to put in the time and effort, which is significant, as you can plainly see. Well let’s start with the main reason – a DevOps engineer salary in US is higher than that of a “regular” software developer, with a greater possibility of growth. Other than cold, hard cash, you’ll be able to enhance your company’s processes and overall philosophy and culture. If you ever look for a new job, you’ll have more options, since the demand for certified engineers is on the rise. Naturally, there are many other, more personal, reasons each of us can have. In the end, let’s live you with the thought that it’s never a bad idea to invest in yourself.