How to Get Proficient in New Technologies

Breakthrough innovations are changing IT at ever faster speeds. New tools, languages, libraries, virtualisation technologies, workflows appear and get adopted in shorter times. A perfect example of this is Docker.

Keeping pace in that kind of environment affords a structured methodology. Here is what I do when preparing for a new thing, keeping in mind that no matter how cool it is, I will probably be far away from using it at my current paid projects.

  • Read a lot on sites such as InfoQ, where practitioners report.
  • Go to general DevOps conferences such as QCon, Velocity or watch in Youtube.
  • Key people will start to emerge from what you read and hear. Follow their publications and talks.
  • Pick a topic that matches your preferences and that will keep you focused over the next months and hopefully years.
  • Try it out, start with a small startup scenario, prototype it. Ask for help.
  • Drop it if it is shitty.
  • Energy and passion will be key to your success.
  • Tweet and blog about key observations.
  • Use gist for your code snippets and include them on your blog.
  • Create your own cheatsheet.
  • Organise your thoughts by keeping a list of findings, questions, conflicts, quotes, competition, etc.
  • Eat your own dog food by using the new thing for your own mini projects.
  • Build yourself a lab environment. With vagrant and docker this is nowadays easier than ever.
  • If its open source, understand the code, understand the process. If you have the time and energy, get involved.
  • If its closed source, scan the ecosystem for open stuff.
  • Make one conceptual slide per day.
  • Prepare a slide deck for your colleagues at work. Start with Why, show just enough concept then do a demo. Proceed with more breadth.
  • Try to earn some money by giving training on the topic.
  • Speak at conferences, people like practical advice and distrust marketing.
  • Connect with likeminded people. Give more than you take.
  • Make the world a better place.

About Grischa Ekart

Follow me on Twitter: @gekart. I am a trainer and consultant for AWS, Docker, Kubernetes, Machine Learning and all things DevOps.
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