article

DevOps Outsourcing
Perks, Drawbacks, and Best Practices

or the story how not to lose your money and time working with vendors
"The need for access to talent will lead companies to think about outsourcing as a means of accelerating innovation and gaining competitive advantage"
Alpacked is a company delivering DevOps outsourcing services since 2017. Our experience covers various projects from different areas like fin-tech, SaaS \ PaaS, media, e-commerce etc. So, yes, we know how challenging it might be to hire honest and highly skilled team to meet your specific requirements.
devops global outsourcing
Indeed, a great array of technologies and approaches on how to build an infrastructure hit directly in the head. And yes, finding a proper candidate (or to establish an entire team) who can cope with it seems almost impossible. Thus, here are 3 common ways:

- Outsource DevOps-related tasks or the entire responsibility.
- Hire a specialist in-house.
- Mix in-house and outsourced teams.

All these ways have their pros and cons and, for sure, there are no "one-size-fits-all" solutions. Anyway, outsourcing services are gaining popularity worldwide.

In this article we will discuss two things often standing together - DevOps and outsourcing, as an alternative to same old insourcing, their advantages and disadvantages, tips on how to choose a reliable DevOps service provider and not to waste money.

  1. Intro
  2. DevOps outsourcing
  3. Benefits of outsourcing
  4. Disadvantages of outsourcing
  5. Tips and best practices
  6. Conclusion

DevOps outsourcing

Too long time-to-deploy, infrastructure delivery delays, unreasonable use of resources and wasted money on inefficient acquiring and maintaining not fitting tools, constant unexpected downtimes are the key headaches of all organizations, not only big players. The problem may also lie in an old-fashioned delivery approach, where most interactions are manual at numerous points throughout the deployment lifecycle.

DevOps practices are all about vanishing old inefficient methods, eliminating bottlenecks and never-ending reworks, and establishing proper culture and tooling within the organization. Therefore, system development life cycle becomes smooth and even more efficient.
system development life cycle
System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Across the World
That's why organizations invoke DevOps as a Service providers to achieve automated provisioning and develop proper culture and processes through outsourcing main tasks to trusted vendors.

Except that, companies willing to adopt DevOps expect to achieve

  • increased time-to-market delivery;
  • infrastructure flexibility and ability to switch the technology kit when needed;
  • hardened security;
  • fewer issues during deployment;
  • rear downtimes and increased uptimes;
  • enhanced product quality.

DevOps outsourcing defined

In the wide sense, DevOps outsourcing used to be a typical solution for organizations willing to delegate the entire responsibility for certain operations or the part of them to a third party companies. Most commonly the reasons for outsourcing were:
- cost reduction;
- not sufficient experience in building infrastructure from scratch or its refactoring;
- need to speed up delivery;
- Need to extend the in-house DevOps team;
- Necessity in disruptive solutions, helping companies to leave their competitors far behind.
The ground for that is ever evolving technologies and high competition on the market in almost every sphere.

What's the most important, cost reduction is not the reason #1 for DevOps outsourcing anymore. Due to our statistic since 2017, modern organizations chase infrastructure update or even refactoring and want to trust it to experts.

Benefits of DevOps outsourcing

So why should a company use DevOps outsourcing services? What are the difficulties and why in-house hiring still exists?

Main advantages of DevOps outsourcing are:
Time management
All tasks are defined, managed and checked if they are done and all deadlines are met. Service providers in 99% cases have their own managers, supervising the project flow. Out of there, the communication is active and specialists can cope with constraints even more faster.
Skills kit
In DevOps companies, engineers have experience working with various projects and absolutely different technologies. What, in its turn, allow them handle some unforeseen cases.
Knowledge share
IT outsourcing companies have a great tradition to share knowledge and brainstorming to discuss the issues and collectively find the best solutions. It helps to shift the focus and look at the problem from another perspective.
Broad experience working with businesses
Business will understand another business and its pain points. So if you have any specific need or requirement, it will be more likely fulfilled.
Reduced staff turnover
There is less risk that specialist will leave the project. If so, the substitution is found immediately and you wouldn't even notice this switch.
Flexibility of the resources
Agree terms and conditions of the cooperation agreement, desired hours, time and number of DevOps engineers working on your project. If you need some more resources for short period of time, you can request more hours or specialists and they will start working immediately.
Favorable cost
Despite the widespread stereotype that outsourcing services cost more expensive than having an in-house specialist, the cost is usually more adequate. The reason for this is the flexible rates and easy-to-understand pricing model. Sometimes it occasionally occurs that outsourced team is even cheaper and more efficient.
devops outsourced team
Outsourced team

Disadvantages of DevOps outsourcing

So why should a company use DevOps outsourcing services? What are the difficulties and why in-house hiring still exists?

Main advantages of DevOps outsourcing are:
Too many vendors
There are too many IT companies providing outstaffing services. The rates vary from <$25->$250 per hour and the high price is not always the evidence of top quality, and vice versa - lower rates doesn't mean worser quality. For example, only in Ukraine you can find 60+ vendors providing cloud consulting services.
cloud &amp; devops service providers in Ukraine on clutch
A list of DevOps & Cloud service providers on Clutch.co
Paperwork
At first glance, papers and documents like SLA (Service Level Agreement), contracts, invoices etc. seem to be a headache, to put it mildly. And all these moves are undesired and create an impression of too much complexity. But all this stuff is very important for both sides. With SLA and contract you wouldn't worry about the performed work.
Unfair vendor
As it happens in any other sphere, you can stumble across the unfair vendor. Most commonly such vendors hide the fees or even overestimate the hours for tasks.

Once a new client came to us with concerns on his ex vendor, the concern was doubts about the estimates provided. This ex vendor estimated more than 4 weeks x 40h and, by the way, for work of two engineers simultaneously, what multiplies the final bill by 2. In reality, this task occurred to be much easier and required less resources - the real estimate was 2 weeks x 40h and required only 1 engineer.

This is a particular case and, luckily, more vendors are fair. But, better to trust and verify ;)
An outsourced engineer or a team wouldn't become an essential part of your company
Despite the need to build proper communication from the day one, you evidently understand that hired engineers of the DevOps outsourcing company wouldn't become a part of your culture.

DevOps outsourcing tips and best practices

Want to hit the target from the first effort? Here we are sharing our tips and best practices for successful vendor selection and partnership.

Establish clear expectations - what, why, when, how you want achieve your goals. If you don't know how you can achieve the goals and what can help you with it, you can just define soft and hard deadlines and approximate budget for implementation. The outsourcing company will make a proposal with solutions that will meet your requirements and business goals.

Check up your potential DevOps service provider for compatibility with your company. Here we mean your satisfaction with vendor's communication skills, time zone \ working hours, skill set, technologies, work style, rates etc.

Don't make your decision ruled only by budget. Lower rates don't mean worser quality and, vice versa, high rates don't imply super quality of execution. The most important is the expertise in the technologies you use and how the potential vendor will solve your pain points. Moreover, some vendors have great discounts and delayed payment opportunities!

Request references and portfolio. Examine thoroughly the previous experience and track record. You can also reach the contact persons in the reference list to learn more about the service provider and receive a feedback. You can also check clutch.co to read the feedbacks. This service provides advanced feedback collection via phone or a special online form. It is impossible to fake the feedbacks.

Decide which payment model best suits you. This table will help you choose the best solution. Almost all service providers have such pricing model:
Check the proposals and compare them. The proposal must contain literally proposal with tailor-made solutions for your business. No sales and marketing watery texts.

Assign SLA and NDA. These two documents are extremely important for your safety and confidence.
  • SLA (Service Level Agreement) - is a commitment between a service provider and a client. Particular aspects of the service – quality, availability, responsibilities – are agreed between the service provider and the service user.
  • A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement (PIA) or secrecy agreement (SA), is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to.

To summarize

In this article we uncovered DevOps outsourcing and its peculiarities, how you can. As you can see, it's benefits overshadow some minor disadvantages, making it easier and quicker to deliver your product to end-users. Outsourced teams perfectly complement your existing department or become the unit of your organization, adapting to your workflow, rules and regulations. Flexibility is the key aspect allowing you benefit even more.

Good luck in choose the reliable service provider and business partner!
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