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With its increasing popularity in the world of software outsourcing, DevOps has quickly become one of those trendy industry buzzwords that overshadow the nature of its true value.
According to PSL's resident DevOps expert, Juan Ruiz, Colombia's software development talent pool has recently been driven by the buzzword instead of the cultural philosophy that makes DevOps methodologies so beneficial. This has led to a growth in the amount of DevOps engineer vacancies in the country, a job title that isn't necessarily centered on the true strengths of the talent they are targeting.
"The term DevOps engineer makes about as much sense as Agile engineer," said Ruiz, a pioneer of DevOps in Colombia and part of the team at the forefront of PSL's DevOps vision.
Ruiz dislikes the job title because developers start to label themselves with it instead of showcasing their incredible strengths in other disciplines. Nearshore outsourcing companies are also specifically hunting for DevOps engineers, which are in short supply compared to the amount of multi-talented developers in the country.
"Each company here uses a different flavor of DevOps," he continued. "The industry is still "green" but it's considerably better than it was four or five years ago, and the definition is still fluctuating. Prior to this, there was a huge misconception that re-branding a development team into a DevOps team was all it took, and that needed to change."
On top of that, companies will often fail to communicate how DevOps's focus on continuous improvement and automated processes can result in tangible business benefits, which leads to disgruntled CTOs who seemingly spent money on nothing.
Colombia's awareness of these common misconceptions and misleading labels is enabling the country to shift gears, ultimately benefiting developers, industry stakeholders, and software outsourcing clients who leverage DevOps and its game-changing cultural philosophy.
At the time of publishing, Ruiz estimates that there are around 250 specialists who work with DevOps in Colombia and 10 companies who practice DevOps internally, including PSL. These 10 players are also aligned with DevOps practices in the United States, meaning they are up to par with the standards that international customers expect.
This foundation is leading to an increase in DevOps-focused R&D on tooling and culture, right across the board.
"We're effectively in an arms race against other companies to bring people in and teach this craft," said Ruiz. "Everybody in the industry is pushing to develop new talent and teach them how DevOps should be practiced to bring new benefits to clients."
Alongside industry players, Colombia's government has been focusing heavily on paving the way for new software professionals. The ministry of technology, MINTIC, is funding qualifying students to study software engineering and providing various free courses and certifications to increase the talent pool, such as Apps.co, a self-training program that has produced over 13,000 graduations since its launch.
While there is still a fairly short supply of talent, Ruiz strongly believes that these initiatives will inevitably lead to more meat for the DevOps grinder, because of the country's unique secret weapon: its culture.
In recent years, this combination of a strong cultural fit and a growing pool of technical talent has led to increased strategic interest from foreign players that want to move to Colombia for DevOps. This is because Colombia's society is naturally well-aligned with the principles that lead to successful DevOps implementation.
Colombia isn't hugely hierarchical, like some, and DevOps works on the principle that anyone can provide feedback at any time, so it's a perfect cultural fit. "DevOps requires sheer defiance of the status quo and a level of openness to challenge views and put yourself out there, so many Colombians are well suited to it, especially here at PSL," said Ruiz. "We ensure that our developers feel comfortable being open and transparent, creating a healthy environment of constant feedback."
DevOps success requires people who are able to speak their minds with good reasoning. According to Ruiz, this keeps even the most experienced DevOps teams on edge, as even newcomers have the power to bring unforeseen problems to the table.
"Maturity and the ability to listen is paramount," he said. "It takes guts to challenge things in the way that we do, which is also why we have a strong cultural affinity with US clients. That collaborative, open, cultural alignment to the US is why DevOps has an extremely bright future in Colombia's software outsourcing industry."
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