DevOps consultant or DevOps engineer: what to choose as a career?

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The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether you should become a DevOps consultant or a DevOps engineer, as the best way to staff any DevOps project depends on the project's specific needs. However, some general guidelines can help you decide.

If you’re excited about the strategic planning and implementation of a DevOps initiative, then a DevOps consultant is likely the best option. A DevOps consultant can help assess the infrastructure and processes, identify areas where improvement is needed, and develop and implement a plan to improve those areas.

If you’re looking to help with implementing DevOps practices, then a DevOps engineer is likely the best option. A DevOps engineer can help automate tasks, set up continuous integration and delivery pipelines, and troubleshoot issues that arise.

Why DevOps is essential

There are a host of different DevOps services that can make businesses more competitive.

Businesses can release new features and updates faster and more efficiently by automating tasks and improving processes. This allows businesses to respond quickly to customer demands and changes in the market.

DevOps also reduces the risk of errors when releasing new features or updates. By automating tasks and shifting the testing to the left, businesses can avoid costly mistakes that can cause downtime or data loss.

Finally, DevOps benefits include improved communication and collaboration between development and operations teams. By working together more closely, these teams can better understand each other’s needs and priorities, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

How do DevOps consultants help?

So, what’s the best way to get started with DevOps? Should you develop professionally as a DevOps consultant or a DevOps engineer? There are pros and cons to both options.

Popular technology skills applied by DevOps consultants
key DevOps technologies (Statista)

However, DevOps is not a single monolithic thing; rather, it is quite complex, and potential employers or clients need specific DevOps resources based on their infrastructure. For example, if they use AWS in their operations, an AWS DevOps consultant can help them optimize the use of AWS services. Similarly, if they focus leans towards Microsoft Azure, you'd want to develop an Azure DevOps competency.

A consultant can also help develop a roadmap for implementing DevOps within an organization. DevOps consultants can help address several key pain points, such as:

  • Lack of collaboration between development and operations teams
  • Lack of communication between different departments
  • Lack of visibility into the software development process
  • Fragmented tooling and processes

DevOps consultants produce these types of deliverables:

  • An infrastructure assessment
  • A roadmap for implementing DevOps
  • Guidance on tooling and process improvements
  • Help with developing or improving automation

When DevOps engineers should come in

A DevOps engineer can be called in for more complex projects and the actual implementation. These individuals are often employees of the company and the people directly responsible for the day-to-day implementation of DevOps within an organization. They work closely with development and operations teams to automate processes and improve collaboration, in addition to other responsibilities.

DevOps engineers can help address key pain points, such as:

  • Inefficient manual processes
  • Lack of automation
  • Poorly configured monitoring and logging tools
  • Slow or broken continuous integration and delivery processes

DevOps engineers are expected to deliver the following outcomes:

  • Improved communication and collaboration between development and operations teams
  • Reduced cycle time from idea to production
  • Increased quality and predictability of releases
  • Improved customer satisfaction

Hiring a DevOps engineer can be a good option if companies need someone to help them implement the DevOps roadmap. A DevOps engineer can help set up the necessary tools and processes and train teams on how to use them. A DevOps engineer can help automate tasks, monitor and log tools, and improve continuous integration and delivery processes. Similar to the earlier comment on DevOps consulting, it is essential to understand the DevOps engineer skills needed for the project in question to ensure a successful application for a job position.

How to check if DevOps consulting is really up your street

As a DevOps consultant, you might work in any of the following scenarios:

  • Your company is starting from scratch with no DevOps infrastructure or process in place.
  • Your company has a partially implemented DevOps solution that needs help getting to the next level.
  • Your company is undergoing a digital transformation, and you want to ensure your DevOps implementation aligns with the business goals.
  • Your company is not sure if their current DevOps solution is effective or efficient.

What are the key requirements for a DevOps consultant?

When working under the model of DevOps outsourcing, which is fairly often, DevOps consultants are expected to operate in a vibrant environment, competing for a place on client projects and showing the following key competencies:

  1. Expertise and experience: A good DevOps consultant will deeply understand the latest DevOps trends and technologies. They will also have extensive experience working with different organizations, helping them implement DevOps successfully. This means that they will be able to quickly identify any bottlenecks in the current process and suggest ways to overcome them.
  2. Objectivity: It can be difficult for organizations to be objective about their own processes. A DevOps consultant can provide an unbiased view of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses and offer recommendations for improvement.
  3. Improved efficiency: A DevOps consultant should help streamline processes and automate currently manual tasks.

What are the key requirements for a DevOps engineer?

Unlike DevOps consultants, who work in a more senior role, DevOps engineers often follow a straightforward career trajectory from a junior to lead systems / DevOps engineer and up.

In your day-to-day working practice, you’ll be expected to show the following key competencies and deliverables:

  • DevOps engineers must code, script, and build the necessary software aimed at system integration or system deployment. At the same time, they oversee smooth, continuous software deployments by managing infrastructure, databases, servers, etc.
  • DevOps engineers are expected to build, test, and maintain a CI/CD pipeline, eliminating manual work and redundancy by setting up automation tools and scripts.
  • A DevOps engineer needs to implement automated test strategies and frameworks to catch bugs and errors early, mitigating the risk of deploying defective releases.
  • Monitoring system performance, identifying issues, troubleshooting problems, and ensuring prompt recovery from outages is an essential duty of DevOps engineers.
  • A DevOps engineer often sits in the center of many moving parts and teams. Their role demands a high level of communication and collaboration with developers, system admins, and other IT staff, breaking down silos and cultivating an environment of transparency and accelerated problem solving.
  • DevOps engineers are now required to weave security practices into each stage of the DevOps lifecycle, from initial design through integration, testing, deployment, and software delivery.

When applying for a remote DevOps engineer job, be sure to reflect that neatly in your cover letter and resume.

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published 17 Jan 2024
updated 28 Feb 2024
Favicon_EPAM_Anywhere_2@3x.png
written by

The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

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