A lot has been written recently about #DevOps and outsourcing. Some say it will kill outsourcing, others are not so sure. Our view at DevOpsGuys is that the truth is somewhere in the middle but that 2016 will definitely usher in a wave of strategic insourcing rooted in re-drawing the lines between what’s “inside” and “outside” the organisation.
For many organisations bringing everything back in-house probably isn’t financially or logistically viable, at least in the short to medium term – they would struggle to attract the right people in the face of a skills shortage on-shore, which pre-supposes the skills remain inside the organisation to identify the organisations needs and design internal services to meet them (they’d probably have to outsource the job of insourcing…).
So where is the middle ground and how does DevOps play into it?
Our view is that organisations who want to get the benefits of a DevOps approach need to own the digital supply chain in-house – your Git server, your CI server, your artefact repository, your choice of infrastructure as code tools, your monitoring platform and so on, running in your private or public cloud. This allows you to have deep insight into Development and Operations as per the “M for Measurement” part of the C.A.L.M.S model. From a Transaction Cost point of view this significantly lowers your “cost of enforcement” to ensure compliance with your quality and design standards.
You can then tactically or strategically outsource parts of your development roadmap to trusted partners who build within and on-top of YOUR digital supply chain. This is the exact opposite of the “out of sight, out of mind” model of outsourcing that has had a negative impact on the service delivery of many organisations – you need to be actively collaborating at all stages of the SDLC, using the metrics driven insights from your digital supply chain platform to close the loop (the “Second Way of DevOps – Amplify feedback loops”).
We’ve (DevOpsGuys) done exactly this with one of our (large, global, multi-national) clients – we helped them to design & build a new DevOps digital supply chain within a secure VPC inside AWS and then worked with them to implement this with their (large, global, multi-national, off-shore) development outsourcing partner. The results have been dramatic – cycle times have reduced from 9 months to 6 months to 1 month (they refer to this as 9-6-1 internally) with an accompanying reduction in the amount of waste and re-work. End result is a much happier internal customer base, who feel that have a greater insight into product development and are getting their needs met faster. This drives more Product Owner engagement and kick-starts a virtuous cycle of improvement.
We believe that this model – their developers, your digital supply chain – offers a viable halfway house between full insourcing and outsourcing that still enables organisations to get benefits from a DevOps approach, or least a DevOps approach to the software development & application delivery side of the equation.
What about the Ops side of DevOps then? Well, our view is that Ops will build, own and manage that digital supply chain and hence be constantly, intimately involved in the continuous delivery of working software. Does the team that builds and manages that pipeline need to be in-house? Probably not, in our view, as long as they offer transparency and visibility into the digital supply chain that they are managing on the customers behalf. Should the Dev Partner and the Ops Partner be different companies – almost certainly yes, since they can act as a check & balance on each other, within the framework of a mutually agreed collaboration agreement.
Will some organisations eventually decide to rebuild their internal development & operations capability? Yes, almost certainly, but this model enables them to start the transformation process whilst building up their internal capabilities and learning exactly where the dividing line should be for them, and how to manage the SDLC effectively in a DevOps way.
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