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Webops is a relatively young field in the world of computing. In the early days of web development, there were ‘web designers’ and sysadmins. As web applications became more complex, web development became ‘back end development’ and UX, and there was also a movement towards “full stack developers” who understand each part of development. Servers were still, primarily, run by sysadmins, but challenges such as load balancing were a grey area. Who knows how to manage the performance of a database best? The person who developed it, or the person who keeps the servers ticking over.

Devops is the field that focuses on deploying reliable applications, but what is webops, and who should consider a career in it?

Devops as a Culture

Some people would say that devops is ‘not a role’, but more of a culture that puts the emphasis on reliability and making apps that are easy to use and maintain. While that is essentially true, some companies do put someone in a position called ‘devops’, expecting them to lead the charge and to make things work, even if the rest of the people in the organization are working differently, with monolithic code files, bad comments, poorly configured servers, and lax backup schedules. It’s not easy to keep things working when other people haven’t embraced the same culture.

Webops as a Position

In companies that have a good devops culture, webops is a job that focuses on automation, documentation, testing, and reliability. The idea is to support the production and deployment of reliable and efficient applications using automation tools to ensure that things are done right every time. Tools such as Ansible and Puppet are popular in the webops world, although scripts that are self-coded could be used as well. The job is not so much about the tools as what they achieve – scalability, automation, and easily replicable work.

Webops is ‘quality’ in the IT culture. Every job has some form of quality assurance and procedures associated with it. The idea behind quality assurance is often that no one person becomes irreplaceable, and that things are clearly documented enough that everyone can do the same job. A good webops person will produce scripts and tools that would allow a moderately trained junior to do a lot of the basic work of deployment and maintenance. Of course, experience is required for on-the-fly adjustments, but we can all appreciate how a high-quality installation and configuration script can save a lot of time compared to doing every deployment manually and can help to ensure that there are no issues caused by an oversight that left an installation file in place, a password file unprotected, or a development flag set in a config file.

The question, really, should not be ‘what is webops’, but how you can embrace webops as a part of your day to day development work. If this is a field that you are interested in then one of the best ways to enter it is to learn it on the job with your own projects, then show off your experience as a part of your portfolio.

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