by Ian D. Rossi

If you are familiar with the current state of IT and cloud, you may guess that I am completely swamped with offers for work as an experienced DevOps and infrastructure automation consultant. I am very busy with my primary client currently, Bose. But for the last couple of years as I have been servicing my clients, I have been contemplating how I can expand my business. Here is what I have found:

  • Many companies are having a very difficult time procuring good talent in the DevOps and infrastructure automation specialty
  • There are many teams that have the potential to take on the task but they lack good guidance and mentorship

I am starting to engage folks out there to see what the potential response would be to a service offering from an independent firm, such as mine, to provide contracted mentoring and training services by way of a longer-term residency, as opposed to, say, a one week course. I firmly believe, after having truly been around the block in this space, that this will be the best solution for all parties. For some time, I thought that the right thing to do would be to bring more guys into my firm and contract them out to do the work–to augment other teams. But now I realize that companies will not really benefit from that. They need talent that will last and they need to build that talent into their already home-grown teams and team leaders.

With my last two clients, Target and Bose, I have trained and mentored them to proficiency with Chef, Jenkins, AWS and Sensu (for monitoring) as well as a slew of other handy tools in their continuous delivery pipeline. I have paired with them and mentored them so they could design and build their own infrastructure and delivery pipeline. We did it together. I believe that this is the path that will have the biggest ROI for most companies in need of DevOps talent. DevOps guys are very hard to find available and, when they are available, they last only days. In my experience, trying to find an external resource to bring this DevOps talent in house has resulted in disappointing breakups that bring needy companies back to the drawing board. Or the need may be filled for a time and then the talent will move on leaving little in the way of production capability (think Golden goose) behind.

So, in short, I say, don’t augment your team, empower it.

What you’ll get out of it is a quality infrastructure, authored by your own team.

Here’s what I’d like to offer: A residency-style mentorship and training program that will empower your team with the following skills:

  • Top shelf cloud infrastructure architecture design. Experience from working with clients like Intel, Verizon, Target, Bose, Johnson & Johnson, etc.
  • Containerization and delivery of microservices to a container orchestration cluster (like Kubernetes)
  • Infrastructure architecture design in the cloud (AWS, Openstack, Azure, etc.)
  • Infrastructure as code development–configuration, deployment AND provisioning (Chef)
  • Continuous delivery pipeline design and construction (Jenkins and similar tools)
  • Real-time, face-to-face partnering (even sharing the same keyboard) with your development team with the goal of training and mentoring them to develop the same proficiency.
  • The term for this would most likely be from 6-12 months, based on my experience. I will help you choose from candidates within your own company and I’ll mentor and train them with the skills they need to grow and manage your business critical infrastructure.

What are your thoughts on this? This is a new conversation that I have started and I’m interested to know what you think.