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Should You Hire a Full Time DevOps Engineer?

by : Dustin Beason
October 21, 2021

Having trouble hiring DevOps Engineers? What if I told you that you may not need a full time DevOps hire for your organization?

Until your organization reaches a certain size and/or complexity it’s possible that a dedicated DevOps engineer may not be as helpful or necessary as you think. In some cases it could potentially create more problems than it solves. For instance, if you end up hiring just one engineer the likelihood of burnout and “experience-only” based technical debt increases exponentially, which can extract a heavy toll down the road. Not to mention, for some small to medium companies there’s just not enough work for a full time engineer if solid DevOps methodologies are implemented and adhered to from the start.

The flip side of that coin that many companies also opt for is not having dedicated DevOps Engineers at all, and just allowing their Developers to manage the infrastructure and operations as they see fit. And unfortunately, this is often the worst of both worlds.

I’d like to share with you a few scenarios on both sides, and offer an alternative that could save you time, money, peace of mind, and precious sleep.

Hiring DevOps Engineers

Hiring DevOps Engineers at small to medium sized companies can be an arduous task these days for a number of reasons.

Foremost is the screening process. There are a lot of people that want to work in the space but may have limited experience in the places you need help the most. And unless you’ve worked with a lot of DevOps engineers, how do you know what questions to ask to ensure you’re getting the right fit from your candidates? How do you know their specific experience lines up with the direction you need to go with the skills they need to perform the job effectively? Will they need to spend a significant amount of time getting up to speed with your tech and workflows? And how can you be sure you’re not getting stuck with biased technical choices based on only their experience, and not what’s best for your organization? I know these are risks that come up with any new hire but we see and hear about the fallout from these scenarios from startups on a regular basis, both professionally and at networking events.

For Example : Your company hires a talented engineer. That engineer loves a particular cloud provider and toolset - so everything is written from scratch according to those preferences. They’re having fun, and you’re really impressed with their drive and commitment. Everything’s going great, and iterations are accelerating. Suddenly, a small problem appears with the infrastructure and automation. The engineer dives in and starts trying to patch / repair and other work starts piling up. Shortcuts get taken in the interest of unblocking the devs or just “getting things back online.” Processes dont get documented or added into the automation for the sake of time and quickly its the Wild West again. Eventually the Engineer is working too much, getting paged too often after hours, or just leaves for higher pay or something more fun. Now nobody on your team knows the specifics of how things were setup, or the details of how things work specifically. You put out an ad for a new Engineer and this one says everything the previous person did was wrong but they can fix it all if you change cloud providers, move to their favorite tools, etc. And the cycle starts anew. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a jab at those engineers but rather a variation on an unfortunate cycle that happens too often.

There are a lot of great engineers out there that are hardworking, genuinely talented, and that work objectively. But if you just hire one of them, they’re going to give their all, over and over again, and eventually, depending on workload, pager load, stress, or the natural cycle of engineers coming and going in the tech space, you’re back to square one. And for many companies hiring 2+ engineers at the market salary demands is not practical or even possible.

Hire a full-time DevOps Engineer Your sole DevOps engineer, watching his family enjoy their vacation while troubleshooting your deploy.

Letting Devs Op.

Developers are great. They’re smart and innovative, and they’re the life blood of your business. Every meaningful thing your application provides to its customers is carved from stone by your developers, and requires time, energy, and mental focus. When they see a problem, it’s in their nature to want to solve it. And your DevOps needs are no exception. Your Devs are chomping at the bit to play with Kubernetes, and learn the ins-and-outs of an ELK stack. It feeds their curiosity, and exercises their mental focus. But it doesn’t fix bugs or add features to your application. In fact, the opposite is true. Every minute, hour, day, or week that your developers come offline to learn how infrastructure works, or troubleshoot some problem with the tooling, is time taken directly from your customers and business. Bug fixes that didn’t occur, and features that weren’t added. You hired a hammer and chisel, but sometimes it’s fun to be a wrench. Some people may not like to hear this, especially the “No Ops” crowd but there is a very beneficial division of work here that can make a huge difference for small companies and startups. And it IS possible for everyone to win.

Benefits of a full-time DevOps Engineer “You silly goose. It was a problem with the helm charts all along…”

OutSourced DevOps

Thats where we come in. It’s possible to hire a team of knowledgeable experts, and leverage decades worth of experience and partnerships to adopt new or streamline existing DevOps practices in your organization without disrupting your team or breaking the bank. And when DevOps practices are implemented correctly, for many small to mid sized companies, there shouldn’t be enough on-going maintenance to justify a full time position. The key being experience and objectivity.

Hiring an objective and knowledgable team like OpSourced lets you skip the downsides of the previous scenarios while gaining the benefits of the hard won lessons around tooling, security, best practices, and managed services. This allows your team to stay on task, yet still benefit from dedicated engineers working alongside them and intervening on your behalf to maintain your infrastructure, tooling, and daily operational needs. You can rest assured that our team is working on your behalf to ensure the highest quality of service is second only to the maximum availability of your applications.

We work alongside your existing teams to build out a secure, highly available, and scalable infrastructure, with reliable automation allowing your team to focus on your business while deploying as often and with as little friction as possible.

Its a big win, where your team gets solid support, and gets to work with the cool toys, while retaining their day-to-day focus and productivity. And when your organization gets to the place where hiring internal DevOps Engineers makes sense, everything we’ve written or built will be your property in your repositories from day 1. And we use only well supported and well documented tooling to ease that transition. We can help train and then transition those responsibilities when you and your new team are ready. No messy breakups. In fact, its the highest measure of success for our business if we can help get you there.

If you’d like to know more, setup a quick call with one of our helpful engineers by filling out the form below!

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