Wonderful World of Unicorn Engineering

My first week at Harness, I feel like I have a unicorn of an engineering title to fill.

By Ravi Lachhman
June 3, 2019

The latest title of greatness in an organization with the rise of the Full LifeCycle developer is the DevOpsPlatformCICDCloudInfraAPMLogML-Engineer. Trending on Indeed, DevOpsPlatformCICDCloudInfraAPMLogML-Engineer’s or Unicorn-Eng for short are in high demand and Unicorn-Eng Days are sprouting up all over the globe. What an amazing time to be in the software engineering field!

There is no such thing as a DevOpsPlatformCICDCloudInfraAPMLogML-Engineer?

Delivering modern software can certainly feel like this role does exist. Building or keeping the development pipeline healthy can warrant that this mystic unicorn of a person or team of persons do and don’t exist at the same time. As even the most conservative organizations move towards pipeline based development, moving towards this model can seem like a challenging task for multiple parts of an organization. So why not just task one person and have them do this right? Enter, the Unicorn-Eng. Now if you are reading this and thinking that you or your team is this unicorn, you are certainly not alone. Complexity is rising in software.

Shouldn’t the “Softwares” be getting easier?

Taking a look at the current 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey compared to years gone by, two interesting trends are occurring. Because we learn and grow by being exposed to different technology stacks (and there is no shortage of open source; take a look at the current CNCF Landscape), engineers are spending less time on teams.

The other trend is that the amount of time to take an engineer to be ramped up is starting to increase; ironically take a look at the CNCF Landscape again if you did not already to see the amount of choice. The intersection of shorter time on projects and increased ramp time show that complexity in our platforms are increasing. With so much “best of breed” and specialization into parts of the stack which usually were underrepresented before via code, a lot of new technology burden is falling onto the software engineering teams.

Need proof? Before Envoy and Istio, how much did you know about networking rules? Unfamiliar with those technologies, shows one more piece of burden / technology paradigm shift that engineer teams have to cope and also operationalize and more so crossing traditional vertical disciplines.

Platform Engineering

One of the quintessential examples of the amount of innovation a platform engineering team or organization can achieve is Netflix OSS. A few years ago, Netflix introduced their OSS (Open Source Software) repository to the world. Can get a cross section on the tools and platforms that Netflix themselves use for software delivery.  Relating back to the Full Lifecycle Developer example, a strong platform engineering team is needed for those organizations embracing the “operate what you build” or “you write it, you run it” model. Applications teams will need to participate in the platforms that the platform engineering team provides to have consistency and expertise with the operate what you build model.

As a software engineer, your might not be an expert in observability but the platform engineering team will give their prescription on what having an observant system in your organization means. At Netflix in combination with several of their packages, Spinnaker is leverage for deployment addressing the concerns of Netflix development teams.

Narcos is Great

One of my favorite shows of all times on Netflix is Narcos. Though from time to time, I do have a little trouble watching Narcos on my beloved Netflix. Known for their stability, I question my fiber internet provider at home before Netflix. Though the internet is humming, this is a Netflix issue. In the back of my head I envision something that Chaos Monkey missed and an array of autonomous changes are firing off and being re-deployed as Netflix is getting feedback from my error from my Apple TV.

Maybe this is happening maybe not but one can dream. Since I am so used to that level of sophistication, when there is an issue with any site or service I use with my rose colored glasses on believe the same level of automation is occurring. Though reality sets in and not everyone is Netflix.

The Softwares is Hard

That level of automation took years of specialized development from multiple teams, quite an investment by Netflix.  The level of sophistication and automation that is expected for enterprises today can be daunting with the seemingly increasing number of steps, tests, and verifications needed to get changes into production. With increased pressures coming from the application infrastructure e.g Cloud Native and the actual infrastructure e.g hybrid/multi cloud we certainly have a lot more on our plate than before.

Why I joined Harness

Not very often does an opportunity for a DevOpsPlatformCICDCloudInfraAPMLogML-Engineer come around to leverage platform that addresses multiple parts of my Unicorn-Eng life. The Continuous Delivery landscape is a competitive one but running through the Harness Sample Application, I was truly amazed at the simplicity that the platform brings to typically complicated tasks in the software delivery pipeline. Instead of being an Unicorn-Eng, I can focus on just being a software engineer again. The amount of time that the Harness Platform brings frees me and my peers from being bogged down in the minutiae of wiring together several purpose built systems. Imagine having learnings from several world class platform engineering teams as a solution in your organization; that is Harness.

More to Come

We are thrilled at Harness to be bringing the power of Continuous Delivery which can be easily consumable by multiple teams. No matter where you are in your DevOpsPlatformCICDCloudInfraAPMLogML-Engineer  journey, leveraging Harness can allow you or your teams to focus on the innovation/features your systems and platforms deserve. Being a DevOpsPlatformCICDCloudInfraAPMLogML-Engineer, focus is difficult. Harness can help bring your focus back. Don’t take my word for, spin up Harness and take a look for yourself!

Ravi.

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