Observations on DevOps Training and Certification
There are plenty of disciplines where training and certification are topics where a range of opinions exist, and the realm of agile coaching is no exception. When it comes to certification in particular, it’s understandable that there is a healthy amount of debate with to respect to how much of a value-add is associated with one certification or another. With that being said, I am writing this for a couple of reasons:
- Because the most recent (2022) State of Agile Coaching Report continues to show a skew in favor of a select few certification bodies, and where the vast majority of certifications fall under the “General Agility” category
- Because I’ve taken numerous courses via the DevOps Institute over the past several months and would like to share that experience
A potential side benefit of writing this post is that it could help build awareness for anyone who is not familiar with the findings of the Report, with training offered by the DevOps Institute, or both.
What the 2022 State of Agile Coaching Report Says About Certifications
The Report breaks agile coaching certifications into the following categories:
With respect to certifications by provider, I suspect that the top three organizations issuing coaching certifications, in the aggregate, will come as little surprise:
- Scrum Alliance
- Scaled Agile
As shown in this screen shot from the Report, of those certifications, in the aggregate, 3/4 of them are issued by the three organizations that were just mentioned:
Note: For the awareness of the reader, I have taken training and have held or do hold certifications from all of the organizations listed above, with the exception of the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Another significant data point mentioned in the report is in regard to certifications by subject, where “general agile” is in the lead, and by a large margin:
- General Agile — 71 percent
- Coaching — 15 percent
- Technical Agility — 5 percent
- Project Management — 5 percent
- Leadership — 4 percent
- Trainer — 1 percent
- Business Agility — 1 percent
Note: The Report places the following certifications under the General Agile category, which constitute 70 percent of the certifications in that category:
- CSM, CSPO (Scrum Alliiance)
- ICP (ICAgile)
- SA, SPC (Scaled Agile)
It is certainly open to debate whether it is reasonable to refer to the General Agile certifications, such as those above, as “coaching certifications,” since they are all to varying degrees entry-level certifications, which say little to nothing about understanding of content, not to mention practical experience. And, with respect to categorization of certifications, that too is open to debate. For instance, with regard to DevOps training and certification, I would say DevOps fits reasonably well under both the Coaching and Technical Agility categories in Particular.
While recognizing that the terminology and the categorization scheme used in the Report is one that some agile practitioners could find fault with, I’m going to refrain from diving into that debate here. Instead, I will end this section with the simple observation that I would like to see DevOps getting a larger slice of attention when it comes to training and certifications among agile practitioners.
My Experiences with DevOps Institute Training
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve recently completed some courses (about half a dozen as of this moment) offered by the DevOps Institute, and would like to share my experiences. Before I do that, let’s take a look at the content offered by the DevOps Institute.
To start with, not all content lives behind a paywall. A popular example of free content offered by DOI are the SKILup days, which are essentially small, focused, virtual conferences, delving into specific topics such as CI/CD, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE), Enterprise Kubernetes, and Continuous Testing.
With regard to how DOI structures its training offerings in general, it’s via its SKILup IT Learning platform, where the options break down like this:
- SKILup IT Learning Lite — the free offering, where a subset of content is available
- SKILup IT Learning — Continuous Learning Subscription-a paid plan, where monthly or annual subscriptions are available, which provides access to a the majority of DOI content (I signed up for the monthly subscription to start off with, to take it for a test drive)
- SKILup IT Learning — Continuous Learning Subscription — the other paid plan, only available as an annual subscription, which adds access to the Certification Prep courses (this is the subscription that I have now)
DevOps Institute Certifications
Now let’s touch on the certifications that are available:
- Certified Agile Service Master
- Continuous Testing Foundation
- DevOps Foundation
- DevOps Engineering Foundation
- DevOps Leader
- DevSecOps Foundation
- DevSecOps Practitioner
- VSM Foundation
I chose to start with DevOps Engineering Foundation (DOEF). I completed the online certification course in December 2022, and took and passed the certification exam in February 2023. As far as next steps are concerned, I plan to explore other training offerings from the DevOps Institute, including one or more of the other certification courses listed above.
Training and Learning by Doing
I would be remiss if I did not mention the vast universe of options that exist when it comes to learning more about DevOps principles, practices, and tooling. For instance, there are many training providers that offer courses which I’ll simply place under the general bucket of “cloud engineering” (in my case, I’ve taken quite a few of those courses in the recent past from one such training provider — Linux Academy) And there is simply no substitute for self-study, rolling up the sleeves, and trying things out. For beginners in particular, the good news is that what might have seemed out of reach before, like having a virtual sandbox environment to play around in, is available as a standard feature via lots of training providers.
It’s important to mention that a couple of the certification bodies listed in the Report— specifically, ICAgile and Scale Agile — do have one or more courses that cover DevOps principles and practices. I have not taken those courses, so I’m not in a position to be able to comment on them.
I recognize that DevOps is a broad topic, and with that in mind, I’ve shared some observations that are unique to my journey. I do this in the hope that more agile practitioners will consider broadening their knowledge of the topic. Books like The Phoenix Project, the DevOps Handbook, and Accelerate have certainly helped build awareness across our community; writing this is my own way of making my own contribution, however small that it might be. Happy exploring!