How ‘DevOps’ Is Killing The Operations Engineer

Before you start to complain, I am a fan of collaboration but Devops might just be the best joke ever!

Before you start to complain, I am a fan of collaboration but Devops might just be the best joke ever! The truth is it means something different to every person. For years I have defined Devops as Engineers trying get Ops out of the way and pushing forward with out those pesky sys admins. Your think I am over blowing it? I have been in the Silicon Valley for the boom of Devops and I hear it all the time “We dont need ops, we can just have a developer do it”. The number of new startups who use AWS thus allowing them to forgo a system administrator never ceases to amaze me. My biggest problem with this is your cutting the legs out from yourself, but your assuring me job security so maybe I should keep my mouth shut.
I have been a a operations engineer for over ten years now, and honestly developers and ops engineers have different ways of functioning. To me a good software engineer has long term focus, can get deep into a project and crunch on the same code for extended durations. Give a good coder a project that will take weeks or even months and they will put there head down and solve your problem. As a generalization these people do not handle interrupt driven work well, they also often do not handle high pressure situations well.
Operations people on the other hand do the majority of their work under massive interruption and constant pressure. Tell a operations engineer the site is down and they will not focus on what the origin of the problem is, they will focus on getting the product back online and come back to fully understand why. This does not mean they do not troubleshoot but they are trying to identify the immediate cause not the who or root. One might argue this is short sited but when your stuck waiting for someone to figure out why the web severs where started your killing your customer experience. I would argue restart the web pool get the product back online and then start to look at root cause once you have identified the customer impact problem and completed the shortest path solution.
When you start off by having your engineers run operations you never allow new ops people to start from ground up and develop their skills, learning the pain points as the system grows thus ensuring when you grow to the point that you need a operations engineer the is a shortage of trained people available. One might argue that some of the developers that started the company by running operations will become your operations engineers and will cover this but to me thats like using a vice grips to remove a bolt.