Embracing a DevOps philosophy comes with many advantages, and choosing the right managed DevOps partner can make or break the transition. The combination of software development and operations brings with it the ability for more rapid and iterative change, automating development and deployment abilities to improve both the process and the outcome.
At the same time, getting there can be complex. The right deployment of DevOps requires extensive expertise in both development and IT operations, along with a knowledge base on how to combine the two. Small, medium and enterprise businesses may not have that expertise in-house, which is why outsourcing becomes a natural next step. Even if you’re just trying to refine your existing practices, a partnership with external experts could make sense.
That step, of course, is not without its risks. If you want to trust a comprehensive DevOps process to someone outside your organization, you have to know that you’re working with the right partner. That’s complex, but can be accomplished through a simple step-by-step process. Consider these 10 factors when looking for the right managed DevOps partner.
1) Does the Managed DevOps Partner’s Usual Scope Match Your Needs?
Before you even start looking into potential partners, you have to understand the scope of the project you’re looking for. Do you simply need the brute force work of a lift and shift, or do you need an entire team to manage and support your infrastructure as code?
That question will define the partner you choose. The right managed service provider (MSP) will have experience with projects scoped out similar to yours. That way, you won’t ask for more than they can actually handle.
2) Does Your Partner Understand Your Tools and Industry?
Scope matters, but so do the tools used. Especially if you already leverage DevOps (or the processes contained therein) to some degree, any external partner needs to use the same tools as you to make for a smooth transition.
Closely related to the question of matching tools is a matching industry affinity. The ideal DevOps partner is familiar with your industry and has performed work in similar environments. If you need to meet specific compliance policies, try to find an MSP that doesn’t need a sharp learning curve to catch up.
3) Can You Rely on Your Partner’s Maturity?
Don’t work with a vendor who is just building out their DevOps capabilities. That might make you a guinea pig while they’re building their expertise as they go. Instead, look at their business maturity and get assurance that they have established procedures in place to get started right away.
4) What Kind of Support Can You Expect?
Familiarize yourself with your potential partner’s service-level agreement. DevOps is beneficial because of its moving nature and constant tests, but that doesn’t help much if you are limited to specific hours when something goes wrong. If your software experiences a failure or downtime at 3 am, will you be able to reach someone to help you fix it?
5) What Will the Process Documentation be?
With a field as iterative and comprehensive as DevOps, changing this on the fly can be immensely damaging. The right MSP has standard operating procedures in place that allows them to document and standardize processes over time. Their policies, from source control to change management, should be clearly documented (or even better, available in code) and available for your review.
6) Should Physical Location Matter?
Physical location doesn’t always matter when it comes to finding the right DevOps partner. At the same time, and depending on your needs, it can be troublesome. Time zone differences become issues when it comes to the support and responsiveness you need. As a result, some offshore partners can add a series of 24-hour delays to issue resolution–time that you typically don’t have in developing and deploying your software.
7) How Do Security and Certifications Play Into the Partnership?
Security is crucial in any field, and the same is true for DevOps. Find out what kind of security policies the MSP has in place. It also makes sense to check on relevant certifications for the particular technology they use – that way, you can be sure of the quality of work you receive in exchange for shipping the work outside your office doors.
8) Can You Tap Into Relevant References?
Never trust a vendor’s word on its own. Instead, try to hear about their work quality, procedures, and policies from those who know it best – their other customers. Find out who the MSP has worked with, and what the scale of projects has been.
Do they only develop custom applications, or can they also modernize and containerize a legacy line of business apps? Who are their upstream partners? If they need support for themselves, can they call on the companies they work with? Do they have case studies in place, or can they connect you with other clients to provide this information?
9) Can You Leverage a Demo to Help You Understand Their Practices?
The right partner doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk. They can provide demos of their own DevOps practices and environment to get you more familiar with their work. Naturally, they should be using DevOps practices internally – can they share some of that with you?
10) How Does Their Team and Culture Match Yours?
Working with any DevOps partner has to mean working as one entity with your internal team. That, in turn, can only be possible if the MSP’s company culture is a fit for yours. Before you sign a contract, try to ensure that your teams can work together without any friction. DevOps is about breaking down silos, and your relationship with a managed services partner should embody this philosophy.
Are You Ready for a DevOps Partner that Fits Your Needs?
Fully embracing DevOps internally is not easy. Quite the opposite. That’s why companies are looking to work with managed DevOps partners to help optimize their processes or simply take on entire projects.
In that process, finding the right partner is an absolute key to your long-term survival and success. Depending on your needs, we could be that partner. If you are looking to make the transition to DevOps, refine your existing practice, or expand the benefits of your existing DevOps practice, Request a quote today.