4 min read

For systems engineers and those working in operations, the move to cloud and the rise of containers in recent years has drastically changed working practices and even the nature of job roles.

But that doesn’t mean you can just learn Kubernetes and then rest on your laurels. To a certain extent, the broad industry changes we’ve seen haven’t stabilised into some sort of consensus but rather created a field where change is only more likely – and where things are arguably even less stable.

This isn’t to say that you have anything to fear as an engineer. But you should be open minded about the skills you learn in 2020. Here’s a list of 5 skills you should consider spending some time developing in the new year.

Scripting and scripting languages

Scripting is a well-established part of many engineers’ skill set. The reasons for this are obvious: they allow you to automate tasks and get things done quickly.

If you don’t know scripting, then of course you should learn it. But even if you do it’s worth thinking about exploring some new programming languages. You might find that a fresh approach – like learning, for example, Go if you mainly use Python – will make you more productive, or will help you to tackle problems with greater ease than you have in the past.

Mastering Python Scripting for System Administrators cover image

Learn Linux shell scripting with Learn Linux Shell Scripting: the Fundamentals of Bash 4.4.

Find out how to script with Python in Mastering Python Scripting for System Administrators.

Infrastructure automation tools and platforms

With the rise of hybrid and multi-cloud, infrastructure automation platforms like Ansible and Puppet have been growing more and more important to many companies. While Kubernetes has perhaps dented their position in the wider DevOps tooling marketplace (if, indeed, that’s such a thing), they nevertheless remain relevant in a world where managing complexity appears to be a key engineering theme.

With Puppet looking to continually evolve and Ansible retaining a strong position on the market, they remain two of the most important platforms to explore and learn. However, there are a wealth of other options too – Terraform in particular appears to be growing at an alarming pace even if it hasn’t reached critical mass, but Salt and Chef are also well worth learning too.

Get started with Ansible, fast – learn with Ansible Quick Start Guide.

Cloud architecture and design

Gone are the days when cloud was just a rented server. Gone are the days when it offered a simple (or relatively simple, at least) solution to storage and compute problems. With trends like multi and hybrid cloud becoming the norm, serverless starting to gain traction at the cutting edge of software development, being able to piece together various different elements is absolutely crucial.

Indeed, this isn’t a straightforward skill that you can just learn with some documentation and training materials. Of course those help, but it also requires sensitivity to business needs, an awareness of how developers work, as well as an eye for financial management.

However, if you can develop the broad range of skills needed to architect cloud solutions, you will be a very valuable asset to a business.

Become a certified cloud architect with Packt’s new Professional Cloud Architect – Google Cloud Certification Guide.

Security and resilience

With the increase in architectural complexity, the ability to ensure security and resilience is now both vital but also incredibly challenging. Fortunately, there are many different tools and techniques available for doing this, each one relevant to different job roles – from service meshes to monitoring platforms, to chaos engineering, there are many ways that engineers can take on stability and security challenges head on.

Whatever platforms you’re working with, make it your mission to learn what you need to improve the security and resilience of your systems.

Learn how to automate cloud security with Cloud Security Automation.

Pushing DevOps forward

No one wants to hear about the growth of DevOps – we get that. It’s been growing for almost a decade now; it certainly doesn’t need to be treated to another wave of platitudes as the year ends.

So, instead of telling you to simply embrace DevOps, a smarter thing to do would be to think about how you can do DevOps better. What do your development teams need in terms of support? And how could they help you?

In theory the divide between dev and ops should now be well and truly broken – the question that remains is that how should things evolve once that silo has been broken down?

Okay, so maybe this isn’t necessarily a single skill you can learn. But it’s something that starts with conversation – so make sure you and those around you are having better conversations in 2020.

Search the latest DevOps eBooks and videos on the Packt store.

Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.