DevOps is built on a foundation of collaboration, efficiency, and excellence, so it makes sense that organizations are investing in their DevOps teams, but how can businesses know if they are overspending in this area?
As companies scale their applications they may want to invest more into DevOps, hiring additional developers and operations engineers to grow their teams alongside their systems. However, cost-effective DevOps is about limiting this linear growth by maximizing efficiency and fully automating processes.
Based on our experience with DevOps, this article offers some tips for minimizing costs and maximizing gains within a DevOps operation.
Focus on Non-Linear Growth
The single most efficient approach to building a cost-effective DevOps team is building tools and automating services to enable the non-linear growth of your organization.
When companies hire more people to deal with increased workload rather than focus on automation and efficiency, this is known as linear growth, which is highly detrimental to cost-effectiveness. A single application may require one operations expert, but that doesn't mean you need nine experts to deal with nine applications.
In order to grow non-linearly, organizations need to consider how exactly many people they need while keeping costs to a minimum. A larger team generally means ineffective management and inefficient usage of resources, so companies should start by ensuring their process automation is well-configured and designed to scale in an efficient way.
After automation comes the Shift Left school of thought, in which developers share the responsibility of Operations. With DevOps, developers share the responsibility of reducing the number of manual processes in operations, so they should help write user-friendly scripts that anyone can run quickly and easily, eliminating the need for additional experts.
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Share Knowledge and Develop Team Capabilities
When it comes to building cost-effective products, sharing experience through collaboration is essential.
You may be able to point experienced team members in the direction of a problem and have them fix it in five minutes, but if you task them with training another team member and sharing their knowledge, you then have two experts for the price of one.
This approach to knowledge sharing is how we grow at PSL, and we're proud of our core group of DevOps experts who take the time to share their experiences and train others. Without this level of collaboration, DevOps teams end up costing much more than they should.
Focus on Developing Core Skills
DevOps looks different at every organization, so cost savings have to emerge through training and education, especially when onboarding people with experience from other companies.
Most DevOps professionals already have several hard skills, including knowledge of tools and components like Docker, cloud computing, scripting, containers, or Linux, to name a few. If not, these only take a matter of weeks to learn.
When it comes to core skills, such as empowering teams, working with clients, developing processes, communicating effectively, or implementing new methodologies, some people need many years to learn them.
The whole DevOps team is responsible for cost-effective delivery, so it must include well-rounded individuals with a broad skill set, both hard and soft. Again, it comes back to knowledge sharing and enabling team members to teach each other, bring different points of view, and agree on a process that works for everyone instead of throwing an expert at the issue.
Measuring the Impact on Costs
Another core principle of DevOps is measuring the success of your team to uncover areas for improvement.
Measuring a DevOps team to improve cost-effectiveness comes down to what the business is about. If the objective is about reliability and the company needs a high-availability service, it makes sense to measure how much time the DevOps team is spending on keeping this service available.
If engineers are working on the application 24/7 to keep the service running, then it simply cannot scale without more people, which is highly inefficient. Services are simply unstable without a solid, automated process. Instead, the entire team should be working on automation tools that keep availability high without needing someone on call. For DevOps teams, this is the difference between putting out daily fires and living in a fireproof building.
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In DevOps, there is generally a lack of available talent when it comes to newer technologies, which represent the heart of DevOps and automation. Organizations need people who can build a robust process and implement the right automation tools to increase cost-effectiveness, so when talent is scarce they can either train them from within or find suitable partners to provide the experts.
Another challenge is changing the organization's culture to empower developers and operations at an equal level. Traditionally, organizations tend to place more importance on developers, who in turn only expect operations teams to provide support and infrastructure, not build cost-effective automation into their processes. Even with the silo-breaking approach of DevOps, that mindset still lingers.
It's more cost-effective to expand certain responsibilities across both sides of DevOps, so developers learn about deployment and infrastructure, while operations learn about building and implementing automation. Once again, it all comes down to knowledge sharing and collaboration. By focusing on these essential approaches to DevOps, companies can develop strategic, cost-effective teams that result in efficiency and growth.
The world can't seem to get enough of DevOps, and we can't either!