How to Build Out a DevOps Team for $4K / mo

DevOps Teams
DevOps Teams

When should a company committed to digital transformation begin building out a DevOps team? The answer is ASAP. However, without the proper plan and critical DevOps experts on board, many early DevOps programs are like ships drifting in the ocean without a compass. Not to mention the challenge of finding the right mix of talent to fill out the minimum roles for a core DevOps team structure.

Implementing DevOps requires not only a technical shift but also a cultural shift within your company. DevOps is as much a mindset as it is a process. Properly implemented, it becomes part of a company’s DNA. The question many engineering managers have today is, “Where to Start?”

This article proposes a cost-effective and measured approach to launching a DevOps team from scratch, leveraging domain experts to build the foundation of a successful DevOps team and culture.

DevOps – Where to Start?

An effective DevOps team requires many roles spanning many disciplines.

  1. The DevOps Evangelist: A DevOps evangelist acts as the change agent, leading the DevOps journey and ensuring that the required cultural shift is happening across the organization. In this way, everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities.
  2. The Release Manager: Responsible for the entire release lifecycle from planning, scheduling, automating, and managing continuous delivery environments. The release manager takes on overall coordination and management of the organization’s projects and products.
  3. The DevOps / CloudOps Architect: Analyze existing software development processes and optimize a DevOps CI/CD pipeline to build and deliver software rapidly.
  4. The Software Developer / Tester: Unlike traditional software developers who write the code to build a product, the DevOps software developer/tester handles the code across the product lifecycle. 
  5. The Security Engineer: The security engineer works with the development teams to integrate security into the CI/CD pipeline, ensuring security is not compromised at any stage of the lifecycle.

The challenge facing companies wishing to build out a DevOps team early is clear: That’s an expensive set of diverse skills that are hard to find in today’s competitive market. How can a company hire and absorb the salaries of an entire DevOps team? It’s simply not feasible for most small and mid-market companies.

A more measured, cost-effective approach is needed.

Having Your DevOps Cake & Eating it Too

As a small to mid-market company, you can launch a DevOps team very early in the process, and still afford it. Consider the following best practices.

  1. Start with a Part-Time Team
  2. Leverage DevOps Partners
  3. Look for ways to reduce costs elsewhere
  4. Build an Internal Team Slowly and Deliberately

1. Starting With a Part-Time Team

For most small-medium companies, hiring an entire DevOps team from the start is cost-prohibitive, and it’s arguable whether or not the team will be fully utilized. Start with a part-time team of experts and build from there. One option is leveraging partners.

2. Leverage DevOps Partners

There are many service providers that offer DevOps as a Service (DaaS). Leveraging these partners to get your DevOps program off the ground in the early stages is not only effective but it can save you a lot of money. You can always build your own team over time, leveraging the foundation that your DevOps partner helped build.

3. Look for Ways to Reduce Costs Elsewhere

One strategy to help reduce the cost of building a DevOps team is to put them in charge of your 24×7 Cloud Monitoring while they build your DevOps program. What better expertise to run your cloud monitoring than DevOps Engineers? And you’ll save thousands of dollars a month in the process.

4. Build an Internal Team Slowly & Deliberately

Using DevOps Partners who offer “DevOps as a Service” can allow you to build your internal team slowly and deliberately over time. You will be able to hire the perfect team with this approach, without hyper-scaling during a tight labor market for these “in-demand” roles.

Summary: When is the Right Time to Begin Scaling Your DevOps Team?

If you are a startup, the best time to launch your DevOps core team is right when you begin converting that MVP Software into production software. Established companies converting their monolithic software to microservices will also want to build out their DevOps teams at the planning stage, as you can’t do Microservices without DevOps.

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