DevOps Berlin: in the thick of Tech in Berlin

  • by

The DevOps Berlin team have just got back from another great visit to the German capital.

If you’ve visited our blog before you’ll know that DevOps Berlin is an online community connecting and engaging the DevOps community in Berlin with content, workshops and events.

DevOps Berlin is brought to you from the talent management solution experts – Amsource Technology.

Since operating in the city we’ve been asked a lot ‘why Berlin? So, here is a brief background into how the DevOps Berlin idea came to life…

Berlin has always been an intriguing area of potential expansion for us here at Amsource Technology.

Recognised as one of Europe’s leading tech hubs, it’s been reported that a new start-up is founded every 20 minutes in Berlin! There is a huge amount of government support in driving a successful tech ecosystem in the city, as well as a high number of prominent accelerators and incubators including Beyond 1435, Berlin Start and Start-up Incubator Berlin.

This combined with factors such as quality of life and lower costs make Berlin a great place to be based for growing tech businesses.

Upon research, we found a number of notable growth areas in the city, especially within fintech and IoT as well as increasing demand for DevOps professionals.

And ‘why DevOps?’

DevOps has been an area of tech that interested us while having specialised in the DevOps market for many years in the UK.

DevOps is one of the hottest job titles on the tech agenda at the moment globally. The advantages in efficiency, growth & scalability, and ultimate cost reduction mean that approaching a DevOps mindset is now one of the first positions that are considered amongst start-ups.

Even businesses that traditionally were not necessarily tech-centric now rely heavily on technology, such as the world that we now live in. The result of this is that the most modern approach is deemed necessary. In addition to this, the most established businesses across Berlin are in need of modernising to maintain their advantage as much as possible and also look into modern collaboration between technology and business development operations.

The DevOps Berlin Journey so far…

We hosted our first DevOps Berlin meet-up back in June with our friends Applift (a multi-national mobile ad tech organisation that specialise in supporting apps and helping them reach optimum success.)

Our first event covered topics including solving business problems with Kubernetes and relational databases.

The event was a great success with over 50 attendees present on what was the hottest day of the year so far (33 degrees!).

Since our meet-up in June, it’s been great to build relationships with people working day in day out in the tech scene in Berlin while also hearing from organisations investing in DevOps.

Our recent visit gave us the opportunity to meet some of the people driving activity in the DevOps and tech space in the city. Including…

Factory Berlin

We caught up with Lucie (sales and Events Manager) and Edward (Head of Innovation and start-ups)  from the team at Factory Berlin (The community of the innovators).

Factory Berlin is a community based in Berlin that houses some of the brightest minds in tech. We spoke to the Factory team all about how the Factory Berlin concept is helping to facilitate the digital eco-system in the city and more.

Click here to watch their interview with us.

Yair Etziony

Yair is an extremely active and influential member of the Berlin DevOps community. Yair often takes part in regular blog posts, speaks at events and also helps to organise them (Berlin DevOps meet-up).

Yair is a DevOps consultant working for Polar Squad at their Berlin base. Polar Squad is a DevOps consultancy operating in Finland and Berlin (and are self-professed as the Best DevOps consultancy out there!). Yair has a varied career in software development. It was really interesting to have him join us for a video Q&A where we were able to ask him about his career path into DevOps, adopting DevOps culture, as well as gain some more valuable insight into the Berlin tech scene.

Jonathan Beber 

Jonathan is a DevOps Consultant / Site Reliability Engineer from Brazil who has over 4 years working in Cloud / DevOps positions (Jonathan has recently joined Berlin e-commerce giant Zalando). For someone who is only approaching ‘mid-20s’, Jonathan is one of the most confident and technologically-inquisitive DevOps / SR Engineers that we have met.

On the subject of being called a “DevOps Engineer”, Jonathan proposed the idea that there is often too much emphasis placed onto the people operating in this position. To implement DevOps practices; it should be a company-wide implementation and approach and not just the responsibility of one person.

Like many, Jonathan accepted that it is a universally-accepted term and job title, but he does not think that the title properly justifies or highlights his position.

Jonathan joined us for a video Q&A at Factory Berlin (Mitte) during our visit. Stay tuned for this video coming soon.

Gonzalo Peci

Gonzalo is an Engineering Manager that has come from a DevOps Consultant / SR Engineering background. Working remotely from Palma, Mallorca, Gonzalo is in a fairly unique position of having been involved in the growth of Coya for 2 ½ years out of their 3 year journey and conducted an online Q&A with us to share some of his experience.

Gonzalo essentially had the option of self-naming his job position when he first started with Coya. One of the interesting topics that came out of our interview was that, when given the option to decide on his own job title at the beginning of his Coya journey, Gonzalo opted for Site Reliability Engineer. This “better reflects what we are trying to achieve” than the vague term of “DevOps Engineer” or Consultant.

After having spent time working in Argentina and then New Zealand, Gonzalo took the decision to work for a Berlin-based company. In his words, the ‘vibrant city’ with ‘heaps of start-ups’, were the main attractions for Berlin being his next place of employment. The majority of Berlin re-locators that we have spoken to have said similar things.

Over the last 5 years, Gonzalo suggested it was difficult to pinpoint the biggest change within automation / DevOps, but that the impact of start-up and smaller-business cultures appears to be having an impact on larger businesses. The quicker release cycle and higher efficiency of smaller business can be an obvious commercial threat to larger and more established organisations – there has been an enforced recognition that even in an established business must change.

Berlin DevOps meet up

Another great Berlin tech meetup, with some really interesting topics. Quick shout out here to the hosts, founders and speakers. Oliver, Sebastian, Yair for organising, with Quandoo.  Christina, Renato, Jeff, Russell, and Damnjan for all of their presentations and thought-provoking topics.

The fishbowl discussion, (which is a great concept at tech meetups), encouraged the introduction of a very open and honest discussion about dealing with project lifecycle and especially delivery. Adopting a DevOps approach for an external client’s project and then implementing it can be difficult. Again, the immediate and natural reaction to hearing “DevOps” often is to think of a certain tooling / tech stack. A key argument here was to completely ignore that and focus purely on the business objectives, and how everyone involved can contribute.

The non-technical aspect of DevOps was again highlighted here, and an in-depth discussion of how the job title can blur how heavily invested a business actually are in DevOps and how well they are working with the process.

Key takeaways from our trip…

The main points that we’ve taken from this particular trip to Berlin, all revolve around approaches to DevOps. “DevOps Engineer” as a job title is definitely an opinion-divider. Some Engineering specialists completely reject the title and wholly disagree with it, whereas some disagree with it but accept it as a universally recognised term.

DevOps can often be considered to be even by Engineers/Developers, as a particular technological-skill set and use of certain tech-stacks, whilst also bringing together Developer and Operations. Regardless of how DevOps is thought of, technology usually has a space in the conversation, whether it be Docker, Kubernetes, or a certain Cloud provider. However, the technology is merely the tip of the DevOps iceberg.

One of the key takeaways from the trip is that DevOps and that the overall approach / culture of DevOps can, and should, be applied across the whole business. Not one person is solely responsible for DevOps, and it can be used, with variation, in other areas of the business.

Perhaps one of the shortcomings in adopting a DevOps approach is the emphasis on technologies, such as Docker/Kubernetes/CICD? Or the presence of a DevOps Engineer/specialist. DevOps approaches differ substantially and, as has been suggested by some of the Engineers we have listened to, there is so much more to a thorough DevOps culture than merely implementing a few technologies or hiring “DevOps Engineer” or team. It needs to flow from the top, down through the business (rather than from the Engineering / DevOps team up through the business).

All in all, it was another great, insightful visit to Berlin and we’re looking forward to heading back and continuing our DevOps Berlin journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *