What is a Cloud IAM Advocate?
Earlier today, Olympia (our Head of Community) and I were guests on CommonRoomHQ's Twitter space, where we talked about our take on DevRel, how we're building a community, and what our goals are. Given the broad range of topics, and speaking about our goals, we decided to expand a bit and share a written version here.
When IAM Pulse approached me to join the Community team, and I imagined myself helping the whole world learn cloud security, I immediately said yes. And then I thought about it, and asked them what that means. DevRel, a function that used to be found only at large companies, has taken off and is growing in popularity. However, if you ask each DevRel practitioner what their job is, you’re going to get a lot of different answers - similar to asking someone who practices DevOps exactly what their job is.
Developer relations and developer advocates come in all shapes and sizes, and focus on different things. As far as I can tell, the role describes:
- Social media mavens - Raise public awareness of a brand and build a network
- Developers - Build things using the company’s tools or platform themselves. They find rough edges public developers would find and use their internal connections to get things fixed up
- Marketers - Work to bring users onto a platform in a concrete “users” and “dollars” sense
- Technical Experts - At the forefront of technology, they identify the boundaries of what products can do, and push those boundaries. They advise the product team to integrate any ideas they have
- Educators - Write trainings and build up help docs. Documentation touches a lot of these areas!
- Technical Support - Answer questions in online forums or respond to customer requests in a customer service-like role
And as with most long-winded explanations, the real answer is closer to “all of the above” (especially at smaller companies!). DevRel means connecting with users of a platform or product, often using social media. Then learning their trials and tribulations with using your platform or tooling, often by testing it out yourself, which can help you become an expert at it. And then potentially helping your dev teams focus on the competitive advantages you see your product having in the market, and telling folks about it. It’s a lifecycle of customer feedback to improve the product and developer experience.
In the same way that DevOps attracts engineers with multiple specialties, DevRel does too. DevOps is being a developer and also knowing how to run services, what we call “Operations.” And DevRel is being a developer and also fostering a relationship with the community at large.
DevRel is interesting in this very technical field due to it attracting “authentic” people - those that can connect with others and build strong relationships. Often DevOps, or internal development attracts very technical, serious people. They’re folks you can rely on, and who will answer the phone on Saturday night when you very much need them to repair your services. With DevRel, you want engaging, empathetic teachers, folks who have the social skills and patience to take your questions and help you do an even better job in your own career. These folks have outsized personalities, and are often popular on blogging, social media, and speaking circuits, and are often at the top of their fields (or at least their social profile makes it seem that way).
DevRel, just like DevOps, is rapidly evolving, and it’s fascinating to be a part of it. I hope I am of service to all of you in all the ways I said above, and if you have suggestions, corrections, or want to help push this industry forward, let me know.
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