DAY TWO: There Are Not Enough DevOps Unicorns In The World – And There Never Will Be

May 7, 2014

by Evan Powell

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about what led us to start StackStorm, focusing on the massive shift happening in IT towards a DevOps approach to building and operating software. I don’t think you can overstate the importance of this shift.

However, there are barriers. And that’s where driver #2 for us starting StackStorm comes in:

There are not enough DevOps unicorns in the world – and there never will be.

The ideal DevOps engineer is a full stack engineer who can code at least in python and is really good at cross-functional collaboration. We are a magnet for this type of unicorn – we have hired a few and have a handful in our utterly kick-ass advisory board.



  1. Being a full stack engineer is really, really hard; in my time leading Nexenta, we were happy to find someone who knew something about virtualization and could go deep on storage and while that is rare even that is not a full stack perspective.
  2. To add to the job spec of being truly full stack to also know how to code well enough that your scripts work reliably and are trusted is extremely rare.

  3. To then combine that with the personality types that seem to thrive in the “anti-siloed” world of DevOps is really, really rare.

Folks that have attributes 1, 2 and 3 – and can lead teams to deliver cohesively – are worth their weight in gold. Software needs to step in here – to help extend and automate these full stack unicorn automators.

Automating all the things is great. Automating the automators is even better. And that’s where we are headed. That’s where the massive operators already are. Amazon, Facebook, Google, PayPal and others have built systems and applied some level of machine learning to the operations systems to enable them to operate at scale and to capture improvements. They’ve entered into a virtuous cycle. Not surprisingly, the IP behind these operations systems is not freely shared with the outside world. Components developed at Amazon and elsewhere may be shared, but the operations automation platforms and intelligence are rarely shared.

That’s where we and the broader community come in. Which leads to the next driver: the community. I’ll discuss how OpenStack and the success of related communities led us to found StackStorm tomorrow.