A Brief, Incomplete and Mostly Wrong Devops Glossary

3 minute read     Updated:

Adam Gordon Bell %
Adam Gordon Bell

You’ve seen them—the pristine glossaries, endorsed by industry titans like the CNCF, with terms that sound like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie. All impressive and idealistic. But we all know that on the ground, where build meets deploy, things aren’t always as polished as the glossary makes it seem.

So here’s my DevOps glossary in no particular order.

DevOps: A magical realm where developers and operations live in harmony, everything that moves has been automated, and Terraform is still licensed MPL 2.

DevOps Engineer: An ops person who abandoned problem solving and bash for ‘orchestrating solutions’ and YAML. Specializes in ‘breaking down silos,’ aka forwarding Slack messages between the Dev and Ops teams.

Blameless Postmortems: A safe space where devs and ops blame “process” and “weird scripts,” never people. Steve always gets the most action items, though — read into that what you will.

Incident: It’s not an ‘outage,’ it’s an unscheduled exercise in Incident Response, an impromptu team-building activity leading to a profoundly underwhelming Root Cause Analysis report. It’s basically a ‘Whodunit?’ but everyone knows it was Steve.

Site Reliability Engineer: A rebranded systems engineer with pager induced insomnia. They talk about post-mortems more than medical coroner and make twice as much.

Platform Engineer: A sysadmin reborn by mastering Go and trading in 3 a.m. pager duty for noon YAML sessions. Can now say ‘cloud-native’ and ‘serverless’ with a straight face - which is worth a 2x salary bump, now isn’t it?

PagerDuty: A pocket-sized drill sergeant crossed with a fire alarm, screeching “Fix it, Soldier! Double-time!” at unholy hours.

CNCF: The Academy Awards Committee of the Cloud Native™ world, with more categories than a ‘kubectl get all’ command. Don’t forget to visit their merch booth for Kubernetes-branded water bottles and ‘I Love YAML’ stickers."

Grafana: A Swiss Army knife of beautiful visualization tools collecting dust. Meanwhile Steve checks server health by pinging Google with a script he calls ‘is_up.pl.’

Cloud Engineer: Has Rob Pike poster. Fluent in Cloud Native™ protoc, and the ancient tongue of ‘if err != nil.’ Has a gopher tattoo. Hated generics but now strangely thinks they are ok.

Observability: Converting thousands of SRE hours and AI alerts just to tell you Steve changed replicas: 10 into replicas: 1000 and nuked our Kubernetes. Nice scaling strategy, Steve.

Chaos Engineering: Swapping 3 a.m. fire drills for 9-to-5 chaos—because nothing’s as soothing as the buzz of pagers and the dance of logs, but now without the overtime.

KubeCon: A career fair masquerading as a tech conference. It’s like Burning Man but with fewer drugs less sand and replacing the spiritual awakening with trick-or-treating for stickers and swag.

Canary Release: A deploy strategy where a few lucky users are selected to play “Spot the Bug” in Steve’s latest masterpiece of chaos.

So, there it is—a slice of DevOps life that you won’t find in standard glossaries. But hey, we’ve only scratched the surface here. What is missing? Maybe I need to do a part two?

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Adam Gordon Bell %
Spreading the word about Earthly. Host of CoRecursive podcast. Physical Embodiment of Cunningham's Law.
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