SysAdmin To Software Development: How To Transition?

SysAdmin To Software Development: How To Transition?


Hey, what’s up? John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. Today, I’m going to be talking about the transition
from sysadmin to developer and to give some advice on this. This question, I don’t have a name—Oh,
it’s from Amir. Amir says, “Hi, John. I enjoy your content on YouTube and I appreciate
your willingness to share your experiences and thoughts with others. Do you have any advice for sysadmins looking
to transition to developer role? I have been a sysadmin for 12 years and am
currently in a senior role making a competitive salary. However, my passion for the role has waned
and I no longer find it enjoyable. By the same token, my passion for coding and
building solutions to business problems has grown. My sysadmin career has introduced me to different
programming languages and I can confidently state that I’m a strong PHP and PERL developer. I’m currently doing some side PHP work for
a startup in my free time, but it hasn’t given me the amount of work I was hoping for. I created a coding blog to market myself to
potential employers and also revamp my resume to highlight my development work. I’ve been scanning the job postings in my
area, Pittsburgh, but most of them are looking for Java or C# talent. I’m thinking about taking some classes in
one of those languages to get up the speed, but wanted to get your opinion first. I don’t want to go into 20 different directions
and end up wasting my time. Thanks and have a good week, Amir.” Amir, you seem like a very intelligent man
there, just the way that you’ve gone about your career and phrased this. I could see what you’re worried about here. Here is what I would say. Actually, it’s kind of—I think now is the
better time to transition from sysadmin to developer and the easier time than there has
been historically. The big reason for this is because of devops. If you don’t know what devops is—I’m sure
you do but for those listening that don’t, devops is sort of this role that a system
admin has become. It’s kind of system admin and development
and IT and operations all kind of rolled in together. As we’ve started doing more agile development
in the software development world, we’ve needed more developers capable of understanding deployment
and how the IT infrastructure works and we’ve needed more IT infrastructure people and system
admins, and stuff like that that understand the development process and how the life cycle
works and deployment, and all of these things and writing code to automate some of the stuff
and to work with built services and all this. This, I think, is a good branch, a good splitting
point, a good jumping stone, whatever it is, in order for you to go from sysadmin to development
without trying to directly jump that gap. You might be able to—maybe you want to just
directly jump into it, in which case you can try that. Having the PHP experience should definitely
help you and you should be able to pick up a language like C# or Java. I don’t think that will be much of a problem
for you. But not having experience in it might be difficult
to get a job. What I would say is that you want to look
for devops jobs. Try looking for devops jobs that may be or
in C# or Java environments if you want to learn those languages. Get into one of those roles where—even at
your current job, you can start doing more devops type of stuff. I think sysadmin is kind of a dying breed
anyway. Not that—I love sysadmins. They’re awesome, but I think that more and
more, sysadmins are having to take up programming anyway and become devops really. In reality, I think that role is disappearing
just like manual testing is disappearing. It’s not disappearing. It’s morphing into something else. I would highly encourage you to look into
devops. See if you can get a job in devops. See if you can transition your current job
to be more of devops. In that devops role, sort of make sure that
you get to do some more coding. Automate, develop system, write scripts for
that. That’s going to be skills that you’re already
used to, but also start working with the developers more and see if you can negotiate something
when you get into the job. I think if you’re in a devops position and
you’re writing a lot of coding and you’re a capable coder, it’s going to be a lot easier
to make that transition and say, “Hey, can I just work on the development team or can
I have some development tasks? I’d also like to use some development.” That’s a lot easier of a transition. Now, I could be wrong but this is what I suspect. I’ve never actually made this transition this
way before. If you’re watching this video and you have
some advice, if you’ve actually made this transition or if you’re in devops, you think
this is a good idea or not, I would definitely like to hear your input here because I’m curious
on this myself. Go ahead and leave a comment below. If you like this video, if you haven’t subscribed
already, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and click the Subscribe and you’ll
get 2 to 3 videos a day. I do a lot of videos. It’s true, but I do it for you. I’ll talk to you next time. Take care.

18 thoughts on “SysAdmin To Software Development: How To Transition?

  • Just be aware that companies have very different ideas of what a "devops" position is. Some see them as "devops architects" having specific knowledge on how to design, deploy and scale applications while others see them as classical ops knowing the modern tools for deployment. (Be it deploying with VM images, docker images or whatnot)

  • You made a good point John, I started out in DevOps and it really helped my transition into Software Development because, I learnt how to automate builds by writing scripts in Ruby most especially, some organizations use python nowadays, and once you become really skilled in this you can transition to a dev team easily because, now you can look at and understand python based code or code bases written in Ruby for the configuration integration/ management system(e.g. chef, jenkins) and you can easily speak with other dev teams to give you a shot. Once you can prove your mettle on small tasks, you would be trusted to handle harder tasks on the web dev teams and before you know it, you have transitioned into full blown software development. So what I will advise is, look for a company that has a strong devops culture (a company that allows devops engineers to collaborate tightly with the software dev team) and get into it and within a short period of time, I believe you will be able to move once you have proved your mettle.

  • Interesting point John, 'cause I was in the same position in 2013, and since then I've moved from SysAdmin, which basically, you need to understand about Linux very well, and how to manage several servers (physical, and virtual). And moving to DevOps role, where besides being familiar with infrastructure in general, you need to provide the "big picture", meaning, you need to see how your application will behave in all aspects, since provisioning, building, deploying, and running itself, automatically. Having also in mind the impact of each steps into your company's environment. I know it may sounds a bit scary, but it's definitely an amazing area to be working on! Good luck!

  • As you mentioned, the time for going from ops to dev couldn't be better.
    I am a sysadmin / part time backend dev and could never really decide which one I really like more.

    Since backend development and sysadmin stuff plays very good together I also don't need to decide. For example, if I build an application that needs to talk to amqp, I think I know better how to configure amqp, than a sysadmin, that only installs it and doesn't have any insights into the application. So in my opinion, the two roles can play together great.

    Only be aware of one thing: Don't be the handyman, that does all the shit. In many companies that are looking for a devops architect, they only looking for a fire extinguisher that does all the shitty tasks no one wants to do.

    Anyway John, great video!

  • This is me. For years I was working in sysadmin, but at the end of last year I got my first full time developer job. I concentrated on learning development and trying to do more with scripting, setting up a build server and other DevOps stuff. It took some time but this job transition is possible

  • I am 19 and i am so confused i have to choose the sysadmin or the developer path which i equally like them both, and when i feel that i wanna choose the sysadmin path i start to miss the programming part and vice versa.I would like to deal more with the back-end development stuff of the application like server/database/infrastructure.What would your advice be ? Thanks

  • Great answer! I am in the same boat myself. Talk to the developers that you work with, see if you can collaborate on any projects. See if there is any current projects that you can help out on. Even if you have to volunteer some of your time, it could be worth it to gain that valuable experience.

  • You barely get to code in Devops. Unless you're writing scripts, coding in some infrastructure as code framework. Like terraform for cloud provisioning or Puppet/Chef for config management. I went into Devops because I thought I'd get to code more. I'm moving out of it now and finally was able to land a job coding full time.

    A DevOps person need to understand development. But they usually dont need to be a developer. Typically a former developer is best for the job

  • Jeah, its best to slightly move away from pure sysadmin. Same for dba. Which I became a few month ago. In every Case you have to look to the Problem solution with coding and Dev Prozesses. The companies are blackboxing AS hell and the Cloud will eat your Job sooner or later.

  • DevOps is more like, Chef, Ansible, SALT. For Chef, know Ruby, for Ansible, know Python. And I'd also lean linux heavy. With Windows, anyone on GUI can figure there way around enough to understand. With Linux… you have to know your shit.

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