I just got back from Monitorama and was once again reminded how terrible job titles are in the tech field. At each of the social gatherings I would set off to meet new people, and by far the most common introduction was “Hello my name is …, and I’m in ops”. I did meet several Site Reliability Engineers, a few Developers, and a few others, but the vast majority were “in ops”.
As it happens, I too am “in ops”. I choose to introduce myself that way, likely for the same reason as everyone else; because my real job title doesn’t come close to describing what I do, and all the alternatives either don’t apply or don’t make grammatical sense.
Officially my job title is Senior Linux Administrator, but for me that brings to mind a bunch of scruffy neckbeards artisanally hand-crafting config files and shunning daylight. Instead, I spend most of my days automating installs and config changes with Chef and Etch. I am also singularly responsible for our network infrastructure and firewalls (Network Engineer/Administrator). I often need to write software to help test and troubleshoot the systems I’m building, and occasionally even write the software the finished systems will run (Software Developer). I spend a sizable amount of my time setting up, optimizing, and reacting to alerts in our various monitoring systems (Site Reliability Engineer). And when I’m not doing any of those things I’m learning new programming/markup/query languages trying to find the slow spots in our infrastructure so we can save a few milliseconds on each web request (Data Scientist).
A few years ago the term DevOps started getting popular as a way to describe how Developers and Operations can work together using the same tools to be more efficient and build better products. Some people have tried to use it as a job title such as DevOps Engineer, or DevOps Administrator. The problem with these sorts of titles is they just don’t make sense, you might as well call yourself an Agile Engineer, or a Teamwork Administrator.
Operations Engineer isn’t bad, but that’s only one step away from “I’m in ops”, and anyone outside the tech field would likely think it has something to do with trains. I guess for now I’ll just have to keep telling people “I’m in ops”, at least until I find a better title I can steal.