Hiring a Junior DevOps Engineer: Risks and Challenges

ANDRII RYZHENKO

Published: 14 Jun 2019

DevOps

The request for a junior DevOps engineer comes our way quite often. In fact, it’s typical for us to have 3-4 active vacancies for this role. Usually, it's not a problem for us to find specialists who fit the provided DevOps job description. However, our clients sometimes decline even the most qualified and promising candidates, for no apparent reason. We find this situation thought-provoking, and that’s why we have decided to address it in this article. Before involving a junior DevOps for your software development team, we believe it makes sense to consider the following points. 

Security risks

While software engineers can work without access to the customer’s sensitive data, it's quite rare for DevOps. Clients usually provide this access to 1-2  reliable experts, including numerous limitations in terms of systems access, encryption, and closed spaces. Thus, for a newly-minted DevOps, it would be difficult to pass the IT security.

We can see that the GDPR and other data leakage prevention policies lead to security localization as opposed to the common globalization tendencies. For this reason, companies tend to hire DevOps locally to have them work under the guidance of more experienced staff members. More often than not, passing through all security formalities is not worth the trouble of managing remote teams.

Performance and efficiency

Work tasks are usually divided according to programmers' qualifications. Senior AWS DevOps engineers typically deal with the architecture, systems integration, load, optimizing and solve complex tasks, whereas their counterparts with junior DevOps skills take up simpler duties. In a properly set up environment, it's common for a task to be run multiple times. It happens automatically or in accordance with a schedule or a trigger. Therefore, it makes no sense in engaging a top specialist, as this is a costly resource that will not likely to pay off in the long run. The bottom line: one talented DevOps is more effective than 5-8 middle-level specialists that will rather make a team of system administrators than junior DevOps.

Lack of standard requirements

First of all, we should consider the fact that this profession is relatively new. Having officially appeared 4 or 5 years ago, it is still evolving and many professionals are yet to join or switch to this field. This is why many Clients still have no answer to the question, "What is a DevOps engineer?". Approaches to code optimization and automated testing, CI and cross-environment migration are defined by one or two people and vary drastically from company to company, even with the same budget.

Lack of formal education in this field

For the time being, DevOps is not a scholarly discipline. To become a specialist in this field, one needs to have a degree in programming or computer networks and master DevOps engineer skills independently by taking courses and delving into field-specific literature. However, it doesn’t mean that all skilled engineers will eventually want to switch to DevOps.

Stiff competition

The number of vacancies exceeds the available resources. In a market like this, the best solution would be to engage a DevOps engineer part-time or on a freelance basis. Having an environment set up once by a professional makes more sense than hiring a junior who will need months to come to grips with the infrastructure. The ability to react fast is extremely important for someone in this role, especially when you need to upload the recent backup. This is the major difference between hiring programmers and DevOps engineers – it’s more beneficial to engage the best specialists than investing in juniors.

The cost of an error

When someone starts to look for a DevOps specialist, they don't always consider the risks and dependencies. But when it comes to the hiring decision, some clients start feeling hesitant about the candidate’s junior-level skills and realize that they need the best-in-class specialist. This is understandable – the stakes are high due to the risk of data leak and downtime damages. No matter how qualified, a junior is still a junior. They need more time for self-education and cannot be completely relied on for making critical decisions.

Learning DevOps is quite an undertaking

devops-software-development

How to become a DevOps engineer? In most cases, DevOps professionals switch from other fields like system administration and network systems or even programming. Becoming a DevOps specialist without any prior programming background is practically impossible. In this field, junior skills are gained through one's accomplishments in other fields in conjunctions with at least a decade of commercial experience. All of this doesn't come easy and takes a great deal of programming knowledge and self-education.

Additional skills

What is DevOps engineer? DevOps truly is a one-person army. In addition to typical tasks like automation, deployment, and monitoring, these specialists must have a slew of various skills. A DevOps engineer job description may include dealing with adjacent technologies tasks. For example, when you need a Golang developer for API integration or a programmer to write scripts, it would be a smart decision to involve a DevOps vs. software engineer like remote Python developer.

In conclusion

software-engineering-devops

If you still want to hire for the role of a junior DevOps, we have a few bits of advice that will hopefully be useful for you.

  • When writing your DevOp job description, make sure to mention a system administration or networking background as a must-have requirement. In our experience, such candidates are fast-learners who will become a true asset to your team over a relatively short period of time.
  • Create an employee development plan for a newcomer. Having a plan will help them learn faster than enrolling into online courses.
  • Assign a 15-minute test – you will probably be astounded by how differently DevOps engineers will solve the task.
  • Eliminate the requirements for formal education and extensive work experience in DevOps filed. These won’t be of help in a real work environment.
  • Don’t ignore English skills – communication is essential for remote teams.
  • Avoid hiring people who go on long retreats. Sometimes you need 3 minutes of DevOps time to restore the system.

Above all, investing in juniors is rather time-consuming and may not pay off in the long run, given that many companies hunt DevOps specialists relentlessly.

Hiring a DevOps engineer with NCube

NCube is software development service company that supports technology leaders from North America and Western Europe by providing remote technology teams in Ukraine. If you'd like to explore the opportunities of hiring DevOps engineers in Ukraine, contact us and we will be happy to discuss your project. 

 

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