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You Can’t Kill DevOps; It’s A Cultural Phenomenon | Austin Parker


Guest: Austin Parker (LinkedIn)
Company: Lightstep (Twitter)

In this episode of TFiR: T3M, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Austin Parker, Head of Developer Relations at Lightstep, to share his insights on where the market is headed, particularly in the DevOps and platform engineering space.

Key highlights of this video interview:

As Parker puts it, a platform engineer is someone that is building tools and platforms to help developers do their job more efficiently, help them unlock the potential that exists within the cloud and all these abstractions that have been built over it. It is someone that is laser-focused on developer experience and making it easier for them to do their jobs.

Is DevOps dead? No, because you can’t kill what is really a cultural thing. DevOps is really that shared responsibility, that shift left of moving things that formerly were someone else’s responsibility towards that place where developers own their code beyond just writing into the IDE and saving it. They need to know about the deployment side. They need to think about where the code is running, the capabilities of the underlying hardware and databases, etc. There are no longer silos of knowledge and experience.

DevOps vs. Platform Engineer vs. SRE: Because DevOps is a cultural thing, it is not really a job title. A platform engineer is a title. There’s a lot of overlap there with Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). Both are crucial to unlocking more productivity and better user experience.

Platform engineering deals with these questions to make the actual practice of programming better for colleagues and co-workers:

  • How easy is it to really deploy code?
  • How easy is it to understand what the code is doing in production?
  • How hard is it to profile things to get this end-to-end understanding what’s going on in production?

Customers are currently grappling with

  • the rate of change of technology
  • how to build a platform that’s better than the off-the-shelf stuff.

DevOps and observability are not products. Both are very low-layered, cultural, and organizational concepts that are foundational. If you have a DevOps culture and you have an organization that is focused on DevOps, then you can build platform engineering, in the same way that you can do unified telemetry or OpenTelemetry if your organization is steeped in observability.

Developer experience is more than just lines of code, efficiency, and performance. Part of it includes:

  • How easily can the developer find information about something, i.e., how good are the docs?
  • How easy is it to understand an alert and to find the right dashboards or the right documentation to help the developer understand what’s going on and what to do to fix it?

Therefore, there is a ton of value in being a platform engineer whose goal is to improve developer documentation for internal users and improve the accessibility of platforms.

This summary was written by Camille Gregory.

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