The Importance of Hands-On Learning in DevOps

DevOps is one of those concepts that’s easily misunderstood. It’s less a process and more a culture. It sprung from a need to get away from the traditional software design. Also known as “The Waterfall” methodology when both Development and Operations began encountering challenges that couldn’t be solved with the technology at the time.

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There is a rise of DevOps in the software development scene. With this rise of DevOps, the question becomes, “How does one learn how to function and succeed in this methodology?” It’s not like software designers can rush out and purchase a DevOps integrated software package, load it into their system, and “run DevOps.”

That’s why, by its very nature, DevOps makes us turn to concepts such as hands-on learning and labs. This article will explain why hands-on learning is essential and point you in a direction that can help make the learning process more comfortable.

This is important to know since businesses that adopt DevOps are seeing a 60 percent higher rate of revenue and profit growth. That same article notes that many companies are finding it hard to fill DevOps positions with people who have the right skills and experience.

What is DevOps?

But first, let’s take a look at what DevOps is (and isn’t, for that matter). DevOps is the methodology wherein operations and development are combined in a collaborative effort, for increased productivity. A single group has an end to end responsibility for the entire software design project, from inception to collecting feedback from the end-users.

The question has arisen in the past of whether or not DevOps was Agile. It is mainly considering how the latter is used as a different development methodology to the Waterfall model. While this is a natural conclusion to draw, no, DevOps is not Agile. However, Agile is a process that’s employed in the implementation of DevOps.

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Hands-On Learning

Here’s the challenge of mastering DevOps: it’s a culture, a methodology, not a rigidly outlined set of standardized steps that you can memorize and implement when needed. It’s one thing to become knowledgeable and proficient at all of the tools typically used in DevOps-driven projects. But it’s another to know how they all fit together in practice. It’s analogous to you knowing all the parts of an automobile engine and what they do, but not having the slightest idea of how they fit together. And to carry the analogy even further, you don’t even know how to drive the car!

That’s where hands-on learning comes into play. There’s a lot to be said about the “learn by doing” approach. And team members can learn a lot about DevOps by getting into the action and getting one’s hands dirty. It’s similar to learning a foreign language by actually immersing into the culture of the language in question.

Granted, mistakes will occur when you immerse yourself into an unfamiliar environment, but that’s how we learn; by trying things, learning from what works and what doesn’t. But the hands-on approach helps you to understand what you did right or did wrong, how you got to that point, and how to correct any errors. The experience becomes the teacher.

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While we already know that DevOps is a culture, it nevertheless does use a particular set of tools. Therefore, familiarity with DevOps’ philosophy and methodology is of paramount importance. The aspiring DevOps team member needs nonetheless also to be familiar with the tools most often employed. So, referencing the original analogy, a competent, well-rounded member of a DevOps team would know all of the parts of an engine. How they all fit together, and how to drive the car once the assembled engine’s installed.

But where does that hard knowledge come from?

Learning From Courses

There is classroom training available to help you become familiar with policies and procedures, as well as how to use the various tools employed in DevOps projects.

DevOps uses tools such as Git, Docker, Jenkins, Ansible, and Puppet, so understanding those applications is mandatory. Classroom instruction can impart that crucial knowledge while also informing the aspiring DevOps team member about how it all fits within the methodology.

Enter the Labs

Labs are arguably the best way to be brought up to speed in that DevOps methodology. Getting that aforementioned hands-on experience in a live lab environment is the perfect teaching tool. Labs provide a “sandbox” environment where the DevOps students can try out the things they’ve learned. The right lab environment can give students the real-world experience they need.

With a lab, students can get that “hands-on” training mentioned previously, but in a controlled environment, before being unleashed onto the real world and an actual company, doing practical projects. That way, the experience obtained from making mistakes and learning the right procedures can happen in a controlled environment.

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Where to Turn?

By now, no doubt, DevOps is probably looking like an odd, undefinable mess. It’s a methodology and culture. So one can’t learn some standard outline and schedule for how to make it work, and yet the aspiring DevOps professional still needs to learn how to use the tools themselves. DevOps is a philosophy, but wait! It’s also a collection of software and platforms!

Fortunately, people interested in learning the ways of DevOps have a solution. Simplilearn provides a DevOps Certification Training Course as well as a DevOps Architect Masters Program. By these two courses, Simplilearn easily fits into the role of a training partner, covering every necessary aspect for DevOps education.

The certification training course helps you become a DevOps practitioner. It also enables you to become a master in the principles and methodologies of continuous development and deployment. It includes automation of configuration management, inter-team collaboration and IT service agility, using modern DevOps tools such as Git, Docker, Jenkins, Puppet, and Nagios. You will also get hands-on instruction with three practical projects.

The Master's program takes things a step further. With this program, you will enhance your understanding of the fundamentals of Agile and Scrum methodologies. And you will also gain knowledge of the two major cloud platforms providers— Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. The hands-on aspect continues in this program by providing seven real-life projects.

Whichever path you take (and there’s no reason why you can’t do both!), Simplilearn provides the tools and training needed to make you a proficient DevOps practitioner. 

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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