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How To Scale Your Business With DevOps Outsourcing: 4 Tips From Practitioners

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Ed Ossawa
Senior Contributor

Digital marketer turned technical PM

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The DevOps movement is gaining momentum: admittedly, the hype around it isn’t going to subside in the near future. By merging IT operations and development practices, the DevOps approach eliminates a once deeply-ingrained conflict between development and operation teams and focuses them on a common goal – fast and seamless technology product delivery. From a business perspective, the DevOps methodology delivers faster time-to-market and ensures continuous development and deployment: an important competitive advantage, which is difficult to overlook.

Yet, the lack of DevOps talent stands in the way of a large-scale DevOps adoption. Despite the efforts of many companies to embrace the approach and build successful DevOps teams, finding and hiring DevOps professionals is quite challenging.

The idea of DevOps has only emerged in 2008 and started to spread in 2009; understandably, there’s a lack of DevOps specialists with enough qualification and expertise. Along with AI and machine learning specialists, DevOps engineers are among the most sought for candidates on job websites like Indeed.com. The DevOps movement is cross-disciplinary, and even though there are many development and operations experts out there, the ideal candidates with ample command of every aspect of DevOps are extremely hard to find.

Brendan Caulfield, chief revenue officer at ServerCentral Turing Group, says: “They are obviously quite expensive. Companies need to take that into consideration.” Caulfield then suggests the obvious solution: growing DevOps specialists in-house by giving professionals with strong knowledge of some of the DevOps aspects an opportunity to master an entire skillset. There’s only one weak point in his reasoning: the time.

The promise of faster time to market is exactly what makes the DevOps approach so attractive. In today’s fast-paced business environment, time is an extremely valuable resource for enterprises who want to stay competitive. Honing DevOps skills to perfection also requires investment: there’s zero guarantee that the in-house talent you’ve put so much time and money in, will not leave you for a competitor ready to offer a more attractive compensation package.

Fostering in-house DevOps talent makes perfect sense, but at the same time, leveraging DevOps outsourcing is a reasonable alternative. Outsourcing DevOps, however, is different from traditional IT project outsourcing and requires stepping aside from familiar approaches, re-allocating resources and rethinking roles and responsibilities.

John Jeremiah, the Digital Research Team Leader at HP Enterprise, believes that for “outsourced DevOps to work, there needs to be an understanding that all groups, even if they are working for different outsourcing companies, need to come together to meet a common goal.” Let’s say one outsourcing provider owns testing for a certain number of systems or deployment and operations, and the other one owns other parts of the DevOps process. The chance is high they’ll have difficulties synching up and working towards a common goal of improving their client’s business. And for DevOps to happen, Dev, QA, and Ops should work in harmony to streamline delivery with automation and to continuously improve the value chain.

But even though outsourcing DevOps may be challenging, it’s ultimately highly beneficial in a number of ways.

Wider talent pools

While your company may be going out of ways to attract the best DevOps talent, outsourcing providers are in possession of an entire staff of recruiters working on finding DevOps professionals. They also have working knowledge of recruiting and HR techniques aimed at attracting, headhunting and retaining high-quality DevOps talent. Offshore DevOps outsourcing eliminates territorial boundaries and raises the chances of you finding the candidate with the skill sets necessary for your project – so that you won’t have to compromise and hire less qualified staff.

Preserving team spirit

DevOps is a team sport, and even if you’ve found talented DevOps engineers for your project, creating a well-oiled team is quite another challenge. Most DevOps engineers are stellar performers and are highly competitive. Building a successful DevOps team thus requires a certain type of corporate culture: supporting competitive spirit while fostering cooperation and focusing on a common goal.  Creating this type of culture doesn’t happen overnight; outsourcing DevOps teams is an obvious solution.

Faster time-to-market and top-notch quality

DevOps outsourcing does all it takes to deliver on the promise of shorter development cycles and ensures continuous testing and deployment. It’s not just the corporate culture that makes for seamless synchronized teamwork: outsourcing companies provide their teams with the most current infrastructure, tools, and services. Outsourcing provider like 8allocate will assemble the DevOps tools into a consolidated cloud-based kit to enable continuous development, testing, short deployment cycles, and integration.

Lower cost

Ultimately, it’s all about the price. While in the US DevOps salaries start at $130,000 per year, DevOps outsourcing will help you achieve at least 2x salary decrease, even during the first year of cooperation. Access to worldwide talent pools also means access to DevOps engineers from markets like Eastern Europe, saturated with high-quality and inexpensive tech talent – an average developer salary in Ukraine is $2,500/month, by comparison.

Looking to hire DevOps specialists or build an extended DevOps team in Ukraine? Request available CVs.

But what if you are already cooperating with an outsourcing provider and want to implement DevOps in the outsourced/distributed team? Given that your outsourcing partner genuinely embraces DevOps culture, the steps you need to take are as follows:

1. Agree on standard tools and methods

Apart from your own software dev team, your organization may be working with one or several IT outsourcing providers. Each of these teams is, most certainly, using its own set of tools and methods to manage software build, release and deployment. Over time, the situation tends to get messy: the organization becomes highly dependent on individuals who know how to translate a product source code into a release version. Agree to use standard tools and methods across all teams as a means to retain control of your intellectual property and avoid being dependant on individuals.

2. Own the regression testing procedure

Experts agree, the usual model when regression testing is normally assigned to software development provider and falls out of the scope of the end client has many downsides. Thus, the clients are often unaware if core business processes and system aren’t accidentally compromised by code changes, nor are they aware of how infrastructure upgrades influence the software performance. DevOps methodology now gives the opportunity to client companies to regain ownership of this important procedure.

3. Automate quality assurance

Normally, as you cooperate with an outsourcing provider on product development, both of you agree on several checkpoints for quality testing across the product delivery pipeline. With DevOps and its continuous delivery and deployment approach, clients can now automate these quality tests and run them more frequently. This will not only reduce time to market but also eliminate the need to manually maintain documentation for change requests and code quality tests.

4. Update your IT infrastructure and applications

Legacy infrastructure and applications are some of the main roadblocks on the way to DevOps adoption. To embrace DevOps, some of the legacy applications have to be re-architected and reprogrammed to allow for more resilience and flexibility, and the organizational infrastructure has to undergo partial or total hardware refresh. Technologies now allow for automatic scheduling of basic operational activities, and software can upgrade and troubleshoot (or self-heal) by using monitoring and orchestration tools. Make sure you reduce manual errors and run regular automatic upgrades.
 
Unlike in-house development and implementation, outsourced DevOps is a great way to bridge the talent gap while streamlining internal and external processes without making a substantial investment. Regardless of which model you choose, though, adopting the DevOps approach, involves major changes in your company ecosystem, IT infrastructure and business philosophy in general. For DevOps model to work successfully, businesses have to take responsibility for creating a supportive environment across all facets of their organization.

Also read: How To Optimize DevOps With Machine Learning

Do you need help building a dedicated/extended Team or getting ad-hoc resources for your software development project fast and cost-effectively?