Why is there a shortage of DevOps People?

Ever since I updated my LinkedIn profile to include the term DevOps, I have been receiving a very steady flow of contact requests from recruiters as well as accompanying job offers. It seems like everybody is looking to hire DevOps people. Sadly, it does not seem that there are a lot of people to fill those jobs.

The obvious reasons for that shortage might simply be that these jobs are looking for pretty new technologies and skills. Some of these are around continuous integration and deployment, various noSQL databases, and cloud environments.

I believe that a problem is actually of a different nature.

Culture, automation, monitoring, and sharing or CAMS are often listed as the foundation of a great DevOps practice. One thing I have always felt was missing from that list was the drive for innovation and change.

When I look across the so-called unicorns, for those companies at the forefront of DevOps, I see a continuous push for driving towards better. Often times that manifests itself as a reduction of technical debt, but just as frequently much effort is spent on the creation of better tools and systems.

To my mind it seems that the innovation and creative process is another core tenant of DevOps.

As I was considering that question it occurred to me that there is a possible parallel to a more traditionally creative endeavor: art.

If we think about music or painting, there are many great practitioners who are able to create with great skill. Many painters and musicians create wonderful art without pushing the boundaries of their particular medium. There is nothing wrong with that. Many popular songs are not pushing against every convention and yet manage to provide joy and entertainment too many.

When it comes to systems and platforms I perceive something similar. There are many skilled network and systems engineers who manage to maintain environments of great stability and performance.

In music and art there are those, however, who might be described as malcontents or innovators. Changes in art for example have been driven by a desire produce something of a different nature. Impressionism, for example, attempted to move past the traditional representation of the world and introduce the impression of the artist. In music there are similar parallels as one form becomes the inspiration for a new form of music. Blues is the foundation of jazz and rock and roll, because some of the early artist in the newer forms of music strived for something different.

Many of the individuals I consider true DevOps practitioners seem to mimic those tendencies from the art world. Now, I won’t go as far as saying that DevOps is Art, but I do believe that a similar level of malcontentment is at play. The motivations behind it likely differ significantly from the art world. However the net result is a push for continuously improving and changing the status quo.

I don’t believe that everybody is suited for DevOps work. I also don’t think that in itself is a problem. After all, we can’t all do the same job and that is a good thing because it allows us to play to our strengths and interests.

The only real problem is that companies currently are quite smitten with the term DevOps. That means everybody is using that term for every position they are hiring for.

I’m certain that this will balance itself out with time. In the end I suspect that architects and other senior roles will be filled with DevOps malcontents and innovators. Meanwhile there still send to be plenty of room to grow for everyone.

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