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9 hidden talents of devops ninjas

Adam Bertram | Jan. 26, 2016
The secret to devops success begins with an open, flexible, and lazy approach to systems and code.

9 hidden talents of devops ninjas
Credit: The Last Thing You See via Wikimedia

Devops is all about culture, with groups of teams working in concert toward a common goal. But as opposed to some workplace cultures, there are certain traits and talents all devops team members must have in common. You could be the best software developer or system administrator in the world, but if you don't possess "devops talents" you'll soon find that you stick out like a sore thumb and any devops shop worth its salt will likely give you the boot.

High-performing devops shops fire on all cylinders, with each team member committed to the overall mission. When one team member doesn't inherently believe in the mission, they can soon find themselves holding up the pipeline and becoming the bottleneck in what would otherwise be a successful deployment strategy.

Following are nine qualities that anyone practicing devops should have. Some may at first appear to be inherent to one’s character, but with practice, all can become second nature to anyone seeking to establish a successful career as part of a high-performing devops team.

1. You're lazy

This trait may sound counterintuitive, but there's a catch. Of course, laziness, by itself, is a characteristic trait not likely to be welcome in the workplace, but the actions you take because of your laziness can be a real asset. One core devops principle is automation, which is what allows teams to deploy reliable code, frequently in a consistent, predictable manner. Left up to humans alone, code deployments would take forever and be fraught with errors.

If you're a naturally "lazy" person, you probably hate doing things more than once. It seems so inefficient and waste of time. If so, this is a great characteristic to have! For example, do you get angry when you work for an hour on an important piece of code, forget to check in to source control and your IDE crashes losing all of that work? It sucks! No one wants to write all that code again! That's my point, although an extreme one. If you agree with me, then why are you doing the same things over and over again?

Truly lazy techies absolutely hate doing the same thing twice. This attitude naturally leads to automation. Why continue treating your servers like snowflakes painstakingly installing the same software and changing the same settings for every single server? That's my version of torture! Script out those installs and configuration management tasks so you don't have to worry about them again.

2. You're open to change

Humans are born into routine. We get up in the morning, live our life during the day, and go to sleep at night. Our natural circadian rhythm ensures this. Instinctively, this is why we all probably enjoy routine; it's recognizable and it's comfortable. Thinking is hard and requires effort. In a routine, we transfer that thinking to our subconscious to where activities feel natural. That's understandable. But to be a true devops ninja, you must set this instinct aside and roll with the punches.


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