Downsides of working with the newest technologies related to DevOps
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Almost all great DevOps engineers want to use the newest technologies and tools. In fact, embracing change and learning new tech is one of the ways a DevOps engineer can stay competitive in the job market.
However, learning new tech isn’t as great as it might seem on the surface. There are valid reasons why companies stick with their older technologies and tools. But some companies that are growing and innovating are look for ways to improve their business by utilizing cutting edge technologies. As a DevOps engineer working for an innovative company, this is great as you get to ensure your skills are up to date. This results in you being more marketable and even commanding a higher salary. However there are burdens of being on the cutting edge of tech as well, and a lot of that burden can fall on you.
There are hidden disadvantages and lots of struggles in learning and implementing your or your client’s new technologies. If you decide to start learning and implementing this new tech without knowing the struggles that come with it, you may find yourself with an unsuccessful implementation, a disappointed boss or client, and even the risk of burnout.
However, you can avoid all of this by being aware of these struggles before you begin. Here are the top 5 disadvantages DevOps engineers need to be aware of in using and implementing the newest technology.
Personally, things always take longer to learn that you initially think, and almost always longer than the business thinks. Especially when there is a new piece of technology that no one has worked with and the project deadline doesn’t account for the learning curve. Learning new tools and frameworks is a lot of fun but when time pressures are added to the learning curve things can be stressful.
It isn’t uncommon for DevOps engineers to work an extra 10 to 15+ hours to their already packed week trying to work out the little glitches that often come with less proven technologies.
Even if you have the determination, the desire to learn, and the patience to implement and work through all the bugs, your boss might not. If one of the people you are reporting to within your organization comes from a non-technical background, they might become impatient with the amount of time you are spending and lack of progress.
Reporting the project delays with non-technical stakeholders can be challenging and stressful. Another reason why it’s imperative for DevOps engineers to have well developed soft skills. If you’re unable to communicate to your boss or client on exactly what’s going on, why it is taking longer, or a solution your project could be pulled.
2. Long hours
When working with new technologies and tools it is not uncommon to spend 60-70 hours a work week. Think about it: you need to maintain your normal work, learning the new technologies, talking with stakeholders and fellow engineers, and effectively implementing the new tech. Often, the vendor of the new technology may never have encountered a problem before. So you’re left troubleshooting alongside the vendor to come up with a work around solution. This process can be fun and exhilarating but knowing the trade offs going into working with less proven technology can help.
3. Burn out
Because of the stress and amount of hours that often come with bug fixes and stabilizing newer technologies, it can be easy for people to get disillusioned with the passions and personal goals of working with the latest new tech. More experienced people with families need to think long and hard about their willingness to work those amount of hours. Sometimes the new tech isn’t able to work as advertised and you’re faced with explaining to your boss why the project is taking longer than it normally does. It can be easy to chase the “shiny ball”, but if your peers slowly start falling off you might find yourself over your head and burnt out.
4. Treadmill effect
The one thing that is constant in technology is change. Technology is always advancing, Project delays in deploying new technologies fast enough doesn’t allow you to catch your breath which leaves you feeling that you’re on a continuous treadmill just trying to catch up. This is common in using cutting edge technology as there are no set ways of troubleshooting all of the bugs and errors that come along with the territory.
This results in engineers working really hard and long hours with little progress on their new project. Over the years, some of the best hiring managers I have worked with understand the importance of allowing time for their team to catch their breath before the next big implementation comes along.
5. You need to go all in
Learning bleeding edge technologies is not for every IT professional. If you’re finishing up your degree in the evenings, going for a certification, or have a lot on your plate with family commitments after work, now may not be the best time.
Once the decision is made to move forward with newer and less proven technology, one has to be willing to completely immerse yourself in learning and implementing the new tech quickly. Enjoy the intensity and laser focus that comes with a new project and embrace the challenges that are bound to come your way. Do your best not to get distracted with any new “shiny balls” or reverting back to old ways of doing things.
Food for thought
It can be easy to be attracted by the latest and greatest of new technologies and flashy startups with potential life changing stock options, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. When making your next career move or evaluating your current position, it’s imperative to think about what other commitments you have and what you value most at this stage of your career.
Do you value a work-life balance and stability over gaining highly sought-after technology skills? Then pursuing the opportunity to work with new tech might not be for you. There is always a tradeoff.
Do you enjoy the challenge, exhilaration, and excitement of introducing game changing technology that can make a big impact for the company you’re working for? Then pursuing the opportunity to work with new tech might be for you.