Want to get ahead in the cloud? Docker and DevOps skills are what you need

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.


According to recent IT Jobs Watch figures, job roles involving container technology Docker have risen 317 places to number two in the 500 most sought after IT skills. With this in mind, recent research from Rackspace has shown a similar spike in Docker and DevOps-related skills in the UK technology industry.

An analysis of job adverts has shown an almost tenfold (991%) increase in posts seeking Docker skills over the past 12 months, while DevOps expertise continues to rise, with permanent roles posted increasing by 57% year on year. Between 2013 and 2014, demand rose by 351%.

This demand for new DevOps roles has so far not translated into salary increases, according to Rackspace. Salaries for DevOps-related skills rose by only 2% last year, compared with 28% for Docker skills. The skill sets for each role, as one would expect, were similar; for Docker roles, the core competencies were Linux (66%), DevOps (60%), Python (60%) and Puppet, while for DevOps engineers it was Linux (86%), Puppet (69%), Chef (57%), Python (53%) and Amazon Web Services (40%).

Naturally Rackspace, as a managed cloud hosting provider, aims to reassure potential customers it has this disparity covered, not least through offering support for the likes of Microsoft Azure. Yet Darren Norfolk, Rackspace UK managing director, said: “We know that technology skills and job roles are constantly evolving. What this means for both the workforce and employers alike is a deeper responsibility to stay aware of what are considered to be the best working practices and cutting edge platforms at all times. Last year it was all about DevOps coming to the fore, but the demand for Docker has surged over the last 12 months.

“These roles are fundamental to the cloud industry’s future but the reality is that businesses are struggling to fill them, as there just aren’t enough candidates with the right skill sets out there,” he added.

The importance of AWS skills aligning with DevOps is not a surprise. As was pointed out on these pages back in November 2014, AWS is bundled with offerings to deploy and manage applications and infrastructure as code “with an inherent DevOps bent”, while in July IT automation and DevOps provider Chef announced its availability in the AWS marketplace.

For vendors, the RightScale 2015 State of the Cloud report, published in February, found revealing findings. DevOps usage hit two thirds (66%) in 2015 with Chef (28%) the most popular tool, followed by Puppet (24%) and Docker (13%). While Docker’s number may be seen as low, the survey also noted significantly larger numbers (35%) who said they would utilise it in the future.

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