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Interview with Alvaro Oliveira, VP of Talent Operations at Toptal

“More recently, a language that is getting a lot of traction on DevOps teams is Go”

Gabriela Motroc
DevOps

Successfully implementing DevOps practices can have a profound impact on a company but finding a good DevOps engineer is an important piece of the puzzle. We talked with Alvaro Oliveira, VP of Talent Operations at Toptal, about DevOps in general, his predictions for 2018 and more.

Benefits of using DevOps practices

JAXenter: You’ve recently written a primer titled DevOps: What It Is and Why It Matters. Could you summarize it in a few words?

Alvaro Oliveira: It’s written for a non-technical audience and describes what DevOps is, why it’s important for an organization to understand and implement, and explores why DevOps principles are crucial for enterprise organizations of all stripes to consider. Just as the Cloud Services market is growing at a rapid pace, so too is the importance of DevOps. The primer also explains the talent problem in DevOps — as DevOps requires a specific skillset that can be hard to find, but finding the right talent is critical to success.

JAXenter: Why does DevOps really matter? What are the benefits of using DevOps practices?

Alvaro Oliveira: Using DevOps practices comes with a range of benefits, some of which are greater efficiency, security, and organizational collaboration. DevOps is an important concept with the potential to dramatically improve products and businesses and as a practice, enables organizations to optimize speed and efficiency across IT functions.

Successfully implementing DevOps practices can have a profound impact on your company through improving efficiency and execution in areas that are both essential and decidedly unglamorous. With DevOps, you can produce amazing products and yield greater profits and customer satisfaction. Perhaps the most important reason for why DevOps really matters is that it can enable organizations to maximize each of these metrics.

JAXenter: What makes a good DevOps practitioner?

To be effective, DevOps engineers need to have a developer background and possess a wide knowledge of system administration and network knowledge.

Alvaro Oliveira: DevOps practitioners are those who have found interest in both systems administration and software development and decided to combine their skills to create a unified, better approach to both. A good DevOps practitioner is able to maintain the servers, networks, and other types of infrastructure systems a company has, as well as actively iterate and improve on those systems through software development. They are someone who can leverage the foundations of software development to help themselves and companies build better tools to handle infrastructure.

JAXenter: There’s a huge demand for DevOps professionals. What skills do you need to have in order to tap into the perks that accompany the job description?   

Alvaro Oliveira: To be effective, DevOps engineers need to have a developer background and possess a wide knowledge of system administration and network knowledge. It’s important that they be able to bridge the gap between the raw code and the challenges that the business has to face every day – such as reducing friction between ideas, delivery and consumers.

A comprehensive definition of DevOps requires an understanding of what it means as a type of engineer, culture and practice. DevOps engineers must have a skillset that combines software development and systems infrastructure expertise, and this combination may be difficult to find. That’s why Toptal launched its new DevOps specialization — to connect businesses and organizations with this hard-to-find talent.

DevOps in 2018

JAXenter: What are your DevOps predictions for 2018? What should we pay attention to?

Alvaro Oliveira: Enterprises will continue to see the importance of DevOps.

This has proven true, as a range of tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google, have built DevOps teams and dedicated significant resources to building expertise in the space. Major tech players are seeing DevOps as not simply a passing fad, but rather a key component of their future technology infrastructure.

DevOps will continue to be particularly essential as industries become more reliant on cloud infrastructure.

In a 2017 report, Gartner Research projected that the Cloud Services market will grow by more than 15 percent each year through 2020. DevOps can make a huge difference in how quickly your company successfully migrates systems onto the cloud. At Toptal, we’ve used DevOps since the beginning – and it’s been integral to our success as a hypergrowth cloud company.

JAXenter: What do companies need to do in 2018 in order to improve DevOps processes?

Major tech players are seeing DevOps as not simply a passing fad, but rather a key component of their future technology infrastructure.

Alvaro Oliveira: Finding strong DevOps engineers can be difficult and companies need to hire the right engineers for the practices to be successfully implemented. With Toptal’s new DevOps specialization, we aimed to connect businesses and organizations with our private network of highly skilled DevOps professionals who are experts in virtualization, containerization, automation, continuous integration and delivery, and cloud application distribution. Since many companies still don’t have access to the right DevOps talent, Toptal’s new specialization provides a reliable pipeline of qualified software professionals who can enable shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency, and more dependable releases, among other agile software development goals.

Outside of finding the right talent, companies can improve their DevOps processes by understanding the tools underlying DevOps practices, which can empower an organization to more accurately tailor hiring practices around finding the right talent and implementing these practices successfully.

JAXenter: Last but not least, is there a programming language that can make it easier to adopt DevOps? If yes, please explain your choice.

Alvaro Oliveira: DevOps is a process that will, more often than not, end up impacting a lot of different parts of the development lifecycle, which means it will be impacting many different technologies.

As you implement DevOps into a workflow that is not optimized for it, you might end up leveraging languages that naturally work well for the problem of creating tools used to connect different parts of the existing workflow and automating it. Javascript has been a big player in the space since the creation of Node.js and more recently a language that is getting a lot of traction on DevOps teams is Go. We also have some domain-specific languages and tools that were built with DevOps in mind like Chef and Puppet.

Thank you!

Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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