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The title of DevOps Engineer has consistently been gaining momentum for over five years. From the outside, it appeared it might be a corporate preference to call an individual a DevOps engineer as opposed to a System Administrator. It was thought they were virtually one and the same. As time has progressed, the nuances that differentiate the two have become apparent.

DevOps's existence is primarily the result of the cloud. Being able to automate a lot of the tasks done by a traditional System Administrator, the evolution of the DevOps role took shape. The previously known System Administrator was now being asked to collaborate with software development and product management to ensure efficiency in the process of releasing software. To further detail the DevOps position, Wikipedia describes it as follows:

Devops is a software development and delivery process that emphasizes communication and collaboration between product management, software development, and operations professionals. It seeks to automate the process of software integration, testing, deployment and infrastructure changes by establishing a culture and environment where building, testing, and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently, and more.
Therefore, gone were the days of configuring and maintaining a network. Sure, one was going to still be responsible for such tasks, but the transition occurred. To put it bluntly, a DevOps engineer can generally do everything a System Administrator can do, but not vice versa.

One interesting caveat to ponder is when companies advertise for a DevOps Engineer role, is it truly a DevOps position? Not surprisingly, it is hard to say. Do companies utilize the DevOps name with the hope of attracting a certain talent base when the position is in all actuality a System Administrator role? Why not attract talent that has a broader skill set even if it is not necessarily needed on day one? I am sure this is taking place, but to what extent is again hard to say.

What we know is the numbers are showing strong growth in the DevOps title and a decline in the System Administrator one. In the last 18 months, we have seen an increase of over 50% in the number of advertisements that include a title of DevOps Engineer. This is happening while the search results for System Administrator show a 50% decline over the same period, thus canceling each other out for the most part. Overall, companies are currently utilizing the DevOps title five times that of the System Administrator title.
Since it is in high demand, what can one do to make the transition from traditional System Administrator to DevOps? There are a few critical areas one can focus on to make this a reality. For one, as stated above, the DevOps role emerged as a result of the cloud. Therefore, if you are not familiar with some standard cloud service such as AWS or Azure, it is paramount that you become familiar with one of those services. Next, in order to succeed in a DevOps position, one must be able to build and deploy software. Knowing something like Nginx can be very beneficial. Also, learn GIT. Being that it is a very popular version control system, it is another crucial skill to have. If you do not have any prior experience with a CM tool such as Ansible, Chef or Puppet, it is another important aspect of the position. Lastly, having a familiarity with containers, such as Docker, is basically a must at this point.

It is fairly apparent there are a lot of areas where one has to refine his/her skill set to succeed in the DevOps role. If you are currently in a System Administrator titled role yet you have experience with the skills mentioned, be sure you stress your experience in those areas. Both on your CV/resume, as well as during the interview process. Do not let a mistitled role prevent you from realizing your goal of becoming a DevOps engineer with the title intact. As a result of an increased knowledge base for the DevOps position, the compensation follows suit. It is your responsibility that you are being remunerated properly for the skills you bring to the table.

The shift is real; companies are looking for DevOps Engineers more than they are looking for System Administrator's. And, as pointed out, there is a clear difference in the tasks being asked to complete either role. With the goal of making a process as efficient as possible, it is clear that DevOps is the future for now. Thus, it is more than just a name. The real question is, are companies treating it as more than just a name?

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