In part 1 of this article, we focused on what is DevOps outsourcing and why teams would consider it. In this part, we go deeper to look at how it can be done successfully, and what you should keep in mind if you’re considering outsourcing DevOps at your organization. In this follow up post, we look at the best practices and approach to follow when outsourcing DevOps.
Benefits of outsourced DevOps
Access to prepackaged application components
Businesses offering managed DevOps possess a library of packaged application components like database objects, images, and other supporting objects. This expedites your application setup and leads to faster software release.
Simpler IaC to write & manage
IaC (Infrastructure as code) is a practice of saving the infrastructure configuration in the form of a code. The benefit of this approach is that it is reproducible across environments. With a simple IaC strategy, you can automate the entire infrastructure management.
Easy access to experts & specialist
Through outsourcing, you will have skilled and experienced engineers working on your application. Agencies offering outsourcing services do the heavy-lifting of hiring, grooming, and fostering high-performing DevOps professionals with multiple domain expertise.
You can avoid all the costs that you incur when building a DevOps practice in-house by outsourcing the services. These costs include hiring and managing talent, training expenditure, and purchasing expensive setup and other licenses for a streamlined DevOps ecosystem.
Accelerated application delivery
Companies that offer DevOps as a service have an inherent DevOps culture, which means they have well-coordinated teams, deep implementation experience, and the right aptitude. This massively reduces time-to-market by pacing up the application development and delivery.
Focus on core business
By outsourcing DevOps to a competent team, you free up your in-house resources, time, and creative bandwidth. You can instead use these available resources to build your core business, research and develop capabilities, and explore business expansion through partnerships and acquisitions.
DevOps in-house vs Outsourcing
Managing DevOps in-house is a long-term commitment that promises improved quality and empowered application development. The longer a team works on a project, the more knowledge they gain of your business and product. However, it requires hefty budgets, enough time, and willingness to build an ideal DevOps team.
Outsourcing DevOps, on the other hand, can help smaller companies with limited budgets gain the benefits of the practice.
Let’s take a deeper look at the pros and cons of each method.
Pros & cons of DevOps in-house
Business knowledge: An in-house DevOps team will have a better understanding of your core business and industry practices. This can be easily translated into your processes.
Better collaboration & communication: You can avoid the hassle of having a communication plan, timeline, and regular outreach activities.
Controlled expenses: Since you are in charge of the project, you can take crucial calls on where to spend money and where to cut down.
Lack of DevOps expertise: Building and fostering an in-house DevOps team will take time and effort, and it is usually a very expensive affair.
Limited cultural adoption: Bringing in a cultural change is always an uphill task. Implementing a disruptive methodology like DevOps can be very demanding.
Additional resource overheads: To make sure your in-house DevOps team is up-to-date in terms of skills, you’ll have to spend extra bucks for training and certifications.
Pros & Cons of DevOps Outsourcing
Technical expertise: Through outsourcing, you get access to a wide and varied talent pool. The team won’t just be technically sound but possess experience across industries.
Low-cost resources: You can eliminate a list of expenses like training, equipment, and tools by onboarding a DevOps agency.
Strong DevOps culture: As a DevOps-centric organization, these vendors build their teams with DevOps as their foundational culture.
Lack of business expertise: Although they come with a variety of experience, chances are that they might lack expertise in your particular business domain.
Security risks: Outsourcing your critical projects is always a security vulnerability. You will have to spend extra resources on vetting out a trustworthy agency.
Restricted flexibility: Depending on the contract you agree upon, you may not have the flexibility in terms of work scope and technologies when compared to in-house DevOps.
How to get started with DevOps outsourcing?
Selecting the right vendor to outsource DevOps is a complicated process. DevOps is in itself an ambiguous practice requiring a customized strategy for every project. Below are the important steps that go into choosing the right DevOps partner and a brief guide on how to approach them.
Analyze existing systems to define objectives
Even before you start looking out for potential vendors to take care of DevOps, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your current state. You can start this by analyzing your existing DevOps implementation in terms of quality and vulnerabilities. Defining the goals and problems beforehand will help you with the criteria to pick a vendor. Once you have this information, you can categorize your options based on scalability, support, cost, migration, and data analytics.
One other aspect that most companies take up quite late in their outsourcing journey is building a governance framework. This will entail listing out things like key people involved, processes and technologies, and end objectives. The outsourced DevOps team can help build a roadmap and action plan based on this data.
You will have to do meticulous research and vetting for all the vendor options you have. Verifying their technical credentials, resource pool and technology access will paint the right picture. Many organizations prefer going with references as they come with reviews and testimonials by default.
Outlining a contract & communication plan
Drawing a control to outsource DevOps is a bit tricky. It is challenging to limit app development with DevOps methodology within a scope. There are two types of contracts that you can explore – closed-scope contracting and open-scope contracting.
In closed-scope, you take the result-oriented approach with the fixed functional and technical scope of work. Meanwhile, in the open-scope contract, the focus is more on innovation and value with respect to the changing market requirements.
Even if it’s not a part of the contract, make sure you put a communication plan in place. The communication guidelines should comprise work specifics, timelines, responsibilities involved, and so on.
Defining performance metrics
Executing a formal agreement is only half the work done. It is crucial to outline metrics that accurately evaluate the performance of this setup. Factors like deployment frequency, change failure rate, and mean time to recover will help you properly quantify the success of your partnership.
DevOps brings changes to every step of the application engineering process, which makes it a very big deal. As much as it helps accelerate your application releases and quality delivery, it requires a deeper level of commitment. If your organization isn’t ready to fully invest in DevOps – both culturally and financially – it is better to outsource it. Outsourcing DevOps presents its own challenges. If you follow the best practices, you can realize the great advantages of DevOps in a cost-effective model.
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