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Streamline your business

Signs your company needs a DevOps partner

Robert Bobbett
© Shutterstock / Chaliya

Was 2018 the year of enterprise DevOps? In this article Robert Bobbett, Senior Vice President of FP Complete, explains what your company should insource and how to know when a DevOps consulting partner is right for you. Prepare for a more efficient team.

A year ago, leading research company Forrester boldly declared that 2018 would be “the year of enterprise DevOps,” citing a market that had matured to “escape velocity.” In particular, their research confirmed that 50 percent of organizations globally were already implementing DevOps and that companies were no longer asking, “What is DevOps,” but rather, “How do I implement at scale?”

When it comes to implementing DevOps at scale, a question many companies ask is whether and what to develop in-house versus outsource to a consultant. Practically speaking, there is a talent and knowledge gap.

Signs a DevOps consulting partner is right for your business 

Last year, more than 77 percent of businesses expressed interest in adopting DevOps solutions, up from 66 percent in 2015; yet to date, only a small fraction of organizations claim to currently have formal DevOps capabilities. This doesn’t mean that businesses without this defined expertise need to outsource the entire project, as this would be losing a wealth of in-house expertise, and most companies that are smart enough to develop their own IT solutions are smart enough to become DevOps experts – if this were their top business priority. The hard decision that needs making is whether DevOps is really what you want to spend your best engineers’ time on?

Working with a partner is all about bringing in pre-existing expertise, so that you can focus on what you really do for a living. A qualified consultant has worked on many previous DevOps projects much like your own, knows the DevOps value and is not treating DevOps infrastructure as a “side project,” but a central focus. You want to benefit from a team that has lived and breathed DevOps technology, and loves working on it and teaching it.

It is very easy to download, install, and take a look at nearly any DevOps tool. But what you’re really paying for is the knowledge and hard-won lessons: the ability to choose the right tools from the toolbox, match them up to the problems and goals you’re facing, get the most of their strengths, and move swiftly around each technology’s weak spots. 

SEE ALSO: Building a DevOps team: 7 tips to help you find your place

What should my company insource? 

Outsourcing DevOps isn’t about handing over control, it’s about demonstrating leadership by recognizing that your business does not have the right expertise in the areas that need improvement. You could identify your most capable people, reassign them to learn DevOps skills, and deploy them in-house, but that takes time. If your top priority is accelerating your business performance, then it is most efficient to utilize outside knowledge and let your best engineers concentrate on their area of expertise.

Don’t consultants want to do all the work for you? Ideally, no. DevOps consultants used to dealing with serious technical teams understand that you are well equipped to do quite a lot of DevOps yourself. It’s a question of priorities and time-to-market (time to learn and prepare), not a question of whether you can design a complete DevOps system yourself. Consider whether you really ought to.

If you’re in FinTech, you probably want your engineers working on financial models and better analyses — not making sure that your Continuous Integration system runs, your Continuous Deployment system works, and your data feeds stay connected.

A good consultant should have a serious dialog with you to understand what you want to have as part of your team soon, what you want to have as part of your team eventually, and what you’d rather never have to think about.

In general, you should insource (A) things you are already very good at, and (B) things that you expect will be core sources of the value seen by your end-users: things you are going to list in your advertisements. You’ll be happy to tell upper management that this is where you’re spending staff time. (Or if you are the boss, you’ll be happy to see that your staff are spending company time meeting actual user needs.) Is your value to your customers partly about how you interact with your cloud provider — or is this necessary but uninteresting to them?

Insource what’s core to your customers and your business. Use consultants for what’s not. This is “consultant as specialist and outsourcer.” Use consultants, too, as specialists and mentors for future core areas where you don’t have expertise, including training and knowledge transfer as part of the deal.

A word of caution: there may be cool technologies your people find interesting and fun, where insourcing isn’t the optimal business decision. Don’t ignore the benefits to staff morale of letting them keep a hand in things. 

SEE ALSO: DevOps is flourishing: New survey reports median salary of $90,000

Conclusion

You are running a successful business, so keep hold of the areas that are your strengths, and those that define your organization in the market. Your in-house experts need to be involved in identifying where you can insource, and where you need to outsource.

A good DevOps consultant transfers knowledge to your team during the project, so they are learning and developing as the business moves forward and can implement the lessons learned on future projects. When you outsource, you benefit from in-depth targeted expertise and experience specific to your needs. You’re gaining access to the right tools that will better streamline and automate your business activity, and that will make IT more efficient, your team more collaborative, and your company faster to market with new products and services to keep ahead of competitors.

Author
devops

Robert Bobbett

Robert has been working with technology since the TRS-80 burst onto the scene. Once he realized he could write code, and the computer would execute those commands, he was hooked. Robert pursued his passion for computer programming and earned his Bachelor of Computer Science degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. After deciding he wanted a solid business background behind him, Robert received his MBA from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Since then Robert has held executive level positions with technology companies such as CenterBeamEarthlinkMyOffice, and MindShift.

Raised in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada which is on Cape Breton Island. Robert now lives in San Diego, California with his wife, Donna. They have five kids who are currently pursuing their careers and college degrees in California and Arizona.