What is DevOps Consulting and Does My Organization Need It?

What is Devops consulting?, And does my organization need it?

In a world where releasing product updates fast is essential for retaining customers, DevOps consulting is a powerful tool.

Thanks to the rise of subscription-based SaaS applications, it’s never been easier for your customers to look elsewhere if you take too long to fix that irritating bug, or release that feature they desperately need.

If you’re struggling to get releases through the door due to organizational silos and poor IT infrastructure, the DevOps methodology could be exactly what you need. If you implement it correctly, you’ll be able to release updates multiple times a day with minimal friction.

But how do you implement DevOps if you haven’t got any experience in the area?

One way of making sure you’re getting the most out of DevOps is to hire in outsourced DevOps consulting services. DevOps consultants have a host of knowledge about how to implement the processes, infrastructure and software needed to deploy on a daily (or even hourly) basis.

If you’re building features quickly but the deployment process slows you down, DevOps consulting could help you solve these issues via a mixture of extended Agile methodology, infrastructure modernization and deployment pipeline automation.

Below, we’ll go more detail about what DevOps does, and what benefits consultants can offer.

What is DevOps, Exactly?

One of the main things that stands in the way of deploying quickly are the organizational silos that exist between your development team and your IT operations team.

These silos exist regardless of how efficiently each of these teams runs on its own.

Modern development methodologies like Agile speed up your development and help you build your product more efficiently, but they don’t resolve this gap between development and operations.

That’s where DevOps comes in.

DevOps aims to bridge this gap by expanding Agile software development principles like continuous delivery, daily cooperation and cross-functional teams outwards to include your IT operations team. See it as an Agile approach to managing the relationship between your development team and your operations team – with a focus on infrastructure automation to grease the wheels.

How Does DevOps Work?

DevOps is based around the idea of continuous integration/continuous deployment (usually abbreviated to CI/CD).

Unlike traditional methodologies, which start one phase on completion of the other, DevOps runs them both simultaneously, in a constant feedback loop. This means that deployments aren’t slowed by hurdles or silos elsewhere in the business and that time to release is faster.

To implement a CI/CD approach to product release, automation and infrastructure modernization are essential. They give you the technology to push deployments through quickly whilst removing huge potential for human error.
What Does DevOps Look Like in the Real World?
What difference does DevOps make, day to day? It’s often difficult to get a sense of this from descriptions alone, and to compound matters, each DevOps implementation will look slightly different! Below, we’ve listed a range of examples of how DevOps can speed up product updates significantly:

  • Traditionally, errors caused by coding in one environment and launching in another (for example Linux to Windows) slow down deployments due to debugging processes. Implementing containerization software like Docker or Kubernetes creates portable ‘containers’ for code, which allow developers to build and launch applications quickly across multiple environments without these errors.
  • Manual testing is time consuming and prone to error. CI/CD tools like Jenkins automate continuous testing, so that developers can continuously integrate changes into your product code for quick release.
  • The quicker you know about a bug, the quicker you can fix it. If you’re waiting for that info to filter from the end user, through the IT service desk to your developers, you risk losing business. Rather than wait for the error reports to roll in, DevOps teams use continuous monitoring tools like AppDynamics and Raygun. These provide detailed, real-time reporting into how users are experiencing your app so that you can release updates proactively.
  • Managing your infrastructure manually takes up significant time for your IT operations team, which could be spent elsewhere. Automating the configuration, deployment and management of your infrastructure using configuration management tools like Puppet and Chef reduces time and human error involved in the process. This creates a more stable infrastructure that has a knock-on effect on all tech-related processes, including development.

What are the Advantages of Implementing DevOps?

It’s not just nice to be able to deploy quicker. Increasingly, it’s mission critical for tech success.

As SaaS becomes the dominant model for selling software licenses, it becomes easier than ever for your customers to leave if they’re not satisfied. If your business model is based on recurring subscriptions (rather than traditional upfront license fees), this can have a huge impact on your revenue stream.

To keep customers, you need to keep offering them value. Their needs will evolve over time – what are you doing to meet them? Are you releasing new features or bug fixes regularly? Are you acknowledging and responding to user feedback and requests?

You might be – but if you have nothing to show for it in terms of solid deployments, people will look elsewhere. DevOps helps you meet and exceed customer expectations by speeding up cloud deployments, so that you can deploy several times a day with no interruption to service whatsoever.

What Is DevOps Consulting and How Does It Help With Implementation?

You could try and implement DevOps yourself, but this is difficult to do if you have no internal experience in the area. Doing everything internally requires you to commit to either a lengthy hiring process or a steep learning curve – usually both.

To avoid huge amounts of sunk costs here, you could opt to outsource some or all of the process to a DevOps consulting company. This means hiring a DevOps consultant vs a DevOps engineer, and gets you:

  • Immediate access to top DevOps expertise from around the world: you don’t have to spend time hiring – consultants bring in their own expertise straightaway. Often, this is expertise that you’d struggle to access otherwise due to lacking the talent in your area, or having to compete intensely for it.
  • Faster implementation timescales: thanks to your DevOps consultant’s range of experience, you begin your project quicker, and progress is faster thanks to consultants’ experience working across a range of DevOps projects.

DevOps consulting is also useful for businesses running DevOps who want to make further improvements. Just as you might hire a general IT consultant to optimize (rather than implement) your existing IT setup, you can hire DevOps consultants to fine-tune your existing DevOps processes.

Of course, this does come with some caveats. Consulting is an upfront cost, for example, and you also need to find DevOps consulting firms that are a genuine match for your needs.

If you can find the right partner and can budget for DevOps consulting rates, however, the return on investment is significant. Faster project timescales mean you get to start making money on your DevOps investment sooner, not to mention that a failed DevOps implementation will cost you significantly more, for no gain.

DevOps Consultant vs DevOps Engineer: What’s the Difference?

Typically, you bring in DevOps consultants on a temporary basis to resolve DevOps-based issues, provide advice on implementation or train in-house employees on how to use DevOps tools.

DevOps engineers usually have more of a technical role than a strategic or advisory one. If you need to implement or build a particular tool to facilitate deployment, you would typically look for an engineer over a consultant.

DevOps consultants are, by definition, always outsourced. You can hire DevOps engineers on a permanent, in-house basis or contract externally.

It’s also worth noting that some DevOps consultants were once DevOps engineers, and as such offer more practical services too! If not, your DevOps consultant will undoubtedly have connections with a range of DevOps engineers, if you need the technical side covering too.

What Does DevOps Consulting Involve?

The exact scope of DevOps consulting services varies based on need and how much internal resources a business has access to.

For example, a business with absolutely no DevOps expertise and no plans to hire full-time DevOps professionals after the consultation period might opt for an ongoing relationship. On the other hand, a business that planned to make DevOps a major in-house function might bring consultants in for an initial audit and architecture build. Then, they could gradually hand over responsibility to internal stakeholders as processes start to bed in.

Here are some DevOps consulting activities that your project might need:

  • Initial consultation: this one’s pretty non-negotiable. Consultants need to know what you want to do, and how you think their involvement will benefit your project. It’s important to establish your project scope and what sort of relationship you want with your consultants before continuing.
  • Audit: consultants almost universally carry out an audit of your existing situation before taking any action. This allows them to identify what’s currently working well, and what they need to improve.
  • Infrastructure improvements: in some cases, legacy IT infrastructure will hold your DevOps implementation back. DevOps consultants remove this hurdle by modernizing your infrastructure, for example via implementing containerization software or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
  • Deployment pipeline automation: reducing or eliminating the amount of manual work around deployment reduces the potential for error and speeds everything up significantly. It also frees your team up to focus on high-value strategic work, rather than low-value process-based tasks.
  • Maintenance and improvements: if you decide that you would like an ongoing relationship with your DevOps consultant, they can perform maintenance and optimization work on the processes above on a long-term basis.
    Will DevOps Consulting Work in My Organization?
    DevOps consulting works for a wide range of businesses, but there are some rough parameters for which it will suit best.

Will DevOps Consulting Work in My Organization?

DevOps consulting works for a wide range of businesses, but there are some rough parameters for which it will suit best.

The big one, obviously, is that you have at least some sort of internal IT presence. For DevOps to work in your organization, you need to have both a development team or an IT operations team. If you outsource all your tech and have no in-housing plans, DevOps isn’t suitable for you.

The next thing to consider is the scale at which you’re currently operating. If you’re an established industry pillar whose extensive in-house teams can’t keep pace with startup disruptors, extensive DevOps consulting could be highly beneficial.

If you’re in an early-stage startup with one developer who also takes care of deployment you might not need DevOps services on such a scale. Equally, early consultations can help provide a roadmap for building DevOps into the fabric of business as you start to grow. This means that you can avoid inefficiencies building as you start to expand and maintain the speed that will give you an advantage over more established competitors.

The great thing about DevOps consulting is that its goals can be adapted for your business’s specific needs.

There is no ‘DevOps consulting’ template that can be fitted, without modification, into every tech business going. You might need DevOps optimization, having implemented the methodology previously. You might want a full, end-to-end implementation to take you from zero to 100% DevOps over a number of years. You might want an implementation roadmap, ongoing support or to in-house entirely after initial project completion.

DevOps consulting offers all these possibilities – it’s all down to what suits your organization best!

DevOps Consulting, Your Way

If you’re looking at DevOps as a way to run the tech side of your business, we’d love to hear from you.

At Tivix, we have a decade of experience helping businesses set up and run DevOps across their organization.

We’ve helped businesses of a range of industries and sizes implement, run and optimize DevOps-based processes, speeding up their time to release and reducing the amount of manual input needed to do so.

Our DevOps services start with an initial consultation so that we can establish the scope and requirements of your project. From here, we conduct an audit to see what your existing situation looks like and then implement or optimize as necessary.

Why not drop us a message for a completely no-obligation chat about your requirements?