Engaging with a DevOps Managed Services provider will help you significantly speed up your DevOps initiative, by relying on certified professionals that will build and operate your DevOps infrastructure. It will let you focus all your resources on building fully automated continuous delivery processes across your company, with a direct impact on business performance and innovation.
Before looking at the benefits of DevOps Managed Services in more detail, let’s take a step back and review the main challenges brought by any DevOps transformation project, small or large.
Culture change is often mentioned as the #1 area of focus, for good reasons. Change is indeed complex, namely when dealing with the day-to-day work of IT professionals or the way Dev and Ops teams collaborate with each other. In fact, change management is often listed as the #1 success - or failure - factor in DevOps projects. If you want to get help in this area, you can work with consulting firms that provide generic change management expertise, combined with a strong understanding of the specific challenges of DevOps culture change. Good news for you, some of these consultants happen to be CloudBees Services Partners!
Ok, now that you are ready to successfully address cultural changes, your DevOps project is going to be a great success and you’ll be able to impact your organization’s business goals in no time. Right? Not so fast. Beyond culture change, your second biggest challenge is to build your DevOps delivery capability. This DevOps delivery capability can be broken down in two broad categories: DevOps practice and DevOps infrastructure.
First, DevOps practice includes all the know-how and best … practices related to the practical definition and implementation of DevOps processes. Said differently, while your team members might have embraced the cultural changes brought by DevOps, it does not miraculously make them DevOps practitioners. Cultural change does not tell them how to apply DevOps principles, namely in the context of your specific organization. For instance, what are the main phases of your CI/CD process? How do they differ or not from one application domain to another? From one technology to another? Where do you start? Where do you need to standardize your pipeline definitions? Where do you need, on the other hand, to let each team customize its DevOps process, practices or tools? For practical change to happen, you will therefore need to build this DevOps practice, either by training existing resources, hiring experienced DevOps profiles, engaging DevOps consultants or a combination of all these options, partly depending on how much time you have to bring tangible results to your top management.
Second, DevOps infrastructure regroups all the skills and experience required to actually operate the software tools that let you automate your CI/CD activities, as well as the underlying systems and network infrastructure on which these software tools are deployed. In the case of DevOps, infrastructure is a challenge in itself for two main reasons. One, you need to master a large number of different tools, each with its own architecture and underlying technologies. Two, these software tools are evolving rapidly, both from a functional and technical standpoint, partly driven by the fact that DevOps is a very active and dynamic market, itself impacted by deep technological trends, such as cloud, containers or microservices. In short, there is a lot to learn and it keeps changing all the time…while your CIO, let alone your CEO, wants your DevOps transformation project to yield its first tangible results within six months, if not less. In fact, “as soon as possible.” Which means your DevOps infrastructure must be up and running even faster. Good luck!
Let’s regroup and summarize your main challenges:
- You need to drive the culture change implied by DevOps.
- You need to build a DevOps practice.
- You need to build and operate your DevOps infrastructure.
Each of them requires a lot of attention and energy. And then there is the overall challenge of driving these three projects in parallel. And “as fast as possible.” Is there a way to radically simplify all this? Out of all the forms of assistance you can get, what are the ones that will yield the best outcomes in terms of speed and business impact over time?
Well, out of these three capabilities, you need to decide which ones are core to your business. First, while you can get help from consulting companies to drive culture change, culture is by design specific to your organization and therefore it’s not something you would ask somebody to manage for you. Second, if you agree with Jeff Immelt, General Electric’s CEO that “Every company is now a software company,” you realize that building an internal DevOps practice is something that is getting closer to your core business by the day, since you already are or about to become a software company. Therefore, for cultural change and DevOps practice, you can certainly get great assistance from consulting firms but these are things you want to own. Then comes comes the question of infrastructure. Is the ability to run your DevOps infrastructure something that you absolutely need to build and maintain internally? Namely when you look at the speed of change in the DevOps software ecosystem and its underlying infrastructure? Is it really an achievable goal, over time?
There is definitely a build vs buy discussion to consider when looking at your DevOps infrastructure and your ability to operate all of your DevOps software tools, together, as well as its underlying systems and networks. If you add to this discussion the request from your top management to get tangible results “asap,” you quickly realize that your DevOps infrastructure is on the critical path of your global DevOps project. Said differently, you won’t get any tangible business result, as long as your DevOps infrastructure is not fully operational, allowing a smooth and complete automation of your CI/CD processes.
Finally, and this is one of the most important challenges which, to a certain extent, is slowing down the overall adoption of DevOps on the market. There is an important shortage of DevOps talent, in particular when considering open source technologies, and it will not improve anytime soon. Which raises the question of your organization’s ability to recruit and retain this type of talent, keeping in mind that you are competing with very attractive companies. On one hand, global technology providers like Google or Amazon and, on the other hand, DevOps start-ups.
This is where a DevOps Managed Services solution can help in a very big way.
Practically speaking, a DevOps Managed Services Provider will bring you an immediate capacity in two key areas:
- Operational management of your DevOps tools, activities such as install/upgrade, configuration, backup/restore of data, performance, security.
- Operational management of the underlying compute, storage and network resources.
Many providers are also offering DevOps consulting, on top of these two infrastructure services. They can therefore help you speed up the building or your internal DevOps practice mentioned earlier.
What are the key elements of a solid DevOps Managed Services offering? First, your MSP provider must have operational experience in the business of Managed Services. This means clearly identified resources that are dedicated, full time, to the operational management of your DevOps tools and its underlying infrastructure. This also means well-defined processes and tools designed to support the delivery of these Managed Services. Second, your MSP provider must demonstrate technical skills on the specific infrastructure technologies being deployed to support your DevOps software tools. Finally, your MSP provider must demonstrate technical skills on the main software tools of your DevOps tool chain, as well as in the implementation of core DevOps practices and principles.
At CloudBees, we have built a DevOps Managed Services Provider partner program which relies on these three main capabilities. First, we have ensured that all of the partners joining our MSP program have a clearly identified business line dedicated to Managed Services. In many cases, these partners are in fact 100% focused on a Managed Services business model. Second, we are relying on existing Managed Services Provider partner programs driven by global cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon Web Services or Azure to qualify our own partners at the infrastructure level. We expect CloudBees MSP partners to be certified at the cloud infrastructure level by these large cloud infrastructure vendors. Third, this is obviously our duty and responsibility to ensure that our MSP partners are fully certified on the latest CloudBees technologies, so that they can rapidly provide advice and support on CloudBees solutions. They always have the assurance of CloudBees expertise behind the scenes, should they need any specific assistance, in a fully-seamless fashion from the customer perspective. Beyond CloudBees Jenkins Solutions, we also make sure that CloudBees MSP partners have expertise with the most commonly used DevOps tools on the market, in order to cover the vast majority of customer use cases. In fact, more and more often, our MSP partners are building similar partnerships with these other DevOps software vendors.
We are very happy to announce this DevOps Managed Services partner program at Jenkins World 2017. We truly believe that it is combining the best of both worlds. On one hand, the peace of mind and speed of delivery brought by an “as a Service” approach, while, on the other hand, the ability for enterprises to customize their DevOps environment, without having to suffer from the smallest common denominator syndrome of elegant-yet-too-simple SaaS offerings. We already have several partners in this program, all actively involved in business discussions with companies looking to speed up their DevOps initiatives. If you’d like to know more about this program, please check out our DevOps Managed Services Provider partners or contact the CloudBees sales team.
Vice President of Customer Success
François has held executive positions in companies such as KPMG, Sun and Mapics (now Infor). In 2005, he joined JBoss to launch its services and support businesses in Europe. After Red Hat acquired JBoss, he managed worldwide support for JBoss and launched Red Hat’s global partner support program for the Linux and JBoss businesses. During his JBoss/Red Hat years, he met Sacha Labourey…and the rest is history! François is a co-founder of CloudBees and is based in New York. Follow François on Twitter.