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Career advice: Moving into DevOps

Career advice: Moving into DevOps

A programmer asks our Premier 100 IT Leader how to make the change

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Hakan Karamanli

Title: Executive vice president and CIO

Company: Tam Faktoring

Karamanli is this month’s Premier 100 IT Leader. If you have a question you’d like to pose to one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com.

hakan karamanli Tam Faktoring

Tam Faktoring CIO Hakan Karamanli

As a programmer with 12 years of experience, what skills should I acquire to help me get on a DevOps team for the first time? Don’t forget that DevOps is not just about the coming together of the development and operations teams, and realize that there is no industry-accepted definition of “DevOps.” DevOps is a philosophy about how to efficiently develop and deploy the highest-quality software possible, with the goal of achieving continuous customer satisfaction.

DevOps engineers should have knowledge of a very broad swath of the technology landscape and more particular knowledge about software development, system integration and operations. Because you are an experienced programmer, you should first develop your infrastructure knowledge: virtualization, the cloud, networking, load balancing and platforms. Second, you should learn about application life cycle processes such as source code management, test and problem management, configuration management, orchestration and deployment, and monitoring.

I’m a DBA, still in my 20s. I feel that data — managing it, mining it, learning from it — is the future. I would love to be in a position to do more of those active things. What should I set out to learn about to get there? The importance of data analysis is increasing day by day. A career plan leaning toward data mining and data analysis is a very good choice for a DBA. First of all, you need to know big data processing platforms such as Hadoop, Flink, etc. and know how to manage unstructured data. Also, in-depth knowledge of at least one analytical tool is a critical technical skill. But you need to develop some important nontechnical skills as well. The first of these is to sharpen your business orientation, which means gaining a better understanding the industry you work in and a wide perspective about business development and problem solving. The second skill is the ability to communicate well and translate technical data findings for a nontechnical team.

Over the course of nine years working in SAP support, I’ve become my company’s designated SAP guru. Strangely, I enjoyed this most during the first five years or so, when I was still learning a lot about our SAP implementation and users’ problems with it. Lately, though, I’ve been pretty bored. I’m ready for a new direction but not sure what it should be. What makes sense for someone with that background? Working on the same subject for years is sometimes tedious and repetitive. But after nine years of working in SAP support, you developed not only your technical (SAP implementation) skills, but also customer support competencies such as business focus, communication and problem solving. These competencies are very valuable because they are the least prevalent among technical staff. You can pursue a management career in any customer service department, regardless of the technical infrastructure. If you want to continue on the technical side, you might think about working as an SAP consultant who serves multiple companies. Lastly, SAP experience is very valuable within other ERP companies, so you might also think about working for any other ERP vendor.

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