Is Learning Algorithms Important for DevOps Engineers?
Blog: Good eLearning
An ‘algorithm’ is a set of rules, steps, or processes to follow, usually for the sake of solving problems, making calculations, and performing other tasks. It is a form of standardization that can greatly enhance the efficiency of essential tasks.
That being said, following algorithms isn’t necessarily a good thing. Entrenching bad ways of working for the sake of convenience is never truly beneficial, but companies can unwittingly allow this to happen over time.
This certainly comes across in DevOps cultures. A newly created culture may have pre-DevOps processes firmly rooted in siloed thinking. Employees may lack the pipeline-wide awareness that helps to shape DevOps processes and enhance collaboration.
At the same time, DevOps encourages continuous testing, experimentation, and improvement. There is no need even for successful algorithms to be set in stone if they can be enhanced. As the scope of DevOps continues to expand with new tools and best practices, there will always be new ways to improve algorithms over time.
So, what do DevOps engineers need to know about algorithms? Questions about how to join and succeed in the profession are common, but the title ‘DevOps engineer’ hides just how varied such positions actually are. Are there even uniform ‘algorithms’ that are worth knowing?
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about DevOps algorithms.
What is an ‘algorithm’ in DevOps?
A DevOps algorithm will usually involve the application of practices, processes, and tools to complete a specific task or function within a DevOps pipeline. Their use is somewhat of a no-brainer, as DevOps is all about automating and improving tasks wherever possible.
The exact makeup of an algorithm will depend on its place in the pipeline. A coder may have to utilize specific tools or programming languages to understand and complete an algorithm, and there may also be specific practices for interpreting results. Operations staff, meanwhile, may be more likely to simply follow algorithms designed to ensure code is suitable for its purpose.
DevOps practitioners are also expected to come up with their own algorithms. Indeed, many interviews can involve being asked to utilize specific tools and processes to create algorithms for specific tasks. This is less about creating algorithms to apply in the job and more about making sure candidates can ‘think algorithmically’ when necessary.
Do I need to learn algorithms to be a DevOps engineer?
Working in DevOps is not really about learning algorithms and sticking to them stringently. It is true that a pipeline may have several in place, especially during the development stage. It’s also true that engineers are also constantly looking for ways to enhance efficiency and reliability to empower continuous deployment, and algorithms can be a big help with this.
However, DevOps engineers are also expected to be able to think algorithmically. A successful engineer can assess an issue and establish appropriate steps for dealing with it. Knowing when to improve processes in this way is well in line with the DevOps tenets of continuous improvement and experimentation. At times, engineers may even have to utilize research and ingenuity to create effective algorithms, upgrading their knowledge and skills as they go.
In other words, it isn’t just about learning algorithms but knowing how to create and improve them. This is why it is so important to understand that a ‘DevOps Engineer’ skill set is not set in stone. The algorithms and tools they need to utilize depend on their own responsibilities. Development teams may spend more time creating and amending them, though Operations staff also need to understand their importance for stability and implementation. They can also be applied to areas like security, machine learning, and so on.
It is also worth keeping in mind that practices and algorithms can vary significantly between DevOps cultures. Depending on the size, structure, and purpose of two pipelines, their practices can take different forms. Simply applying one company’s algorithm to a new organization can have a negative impact, making it even more crucial for engineers to be able to learn, create, and adapt algorithms as necessary.
What do I need to know about algorithms to be a DevOps engineer?
So, back to the initial question! Do you need to learn algorithms to be a DevOps engineer? The answer is yes, but not simply to follow them. You must
- Have the tools and skills to be able to follow ways of working in your position
- Learn to ‘think algorithmically’ to be able to reassess, design, and implement algorithms
- Remember that algorithms need to reflect the goals, requirements, and restrictions of the culture they exist in
If having a career in DevOps was as simple as following a set process, it wouldn’t be nearly as lucrative or valuable. By the time you have the ability to utilize, create, and improve algorithms, you will be able to enjoy much greater success as a DevOps engineer!
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