DevOps consultants and DevOps engineers sound like similar positions, and, in fact, they often perform similar tasks. What are the differences between the two positions and which do you need for your business?
What is DevOps?
Amazon Web Services defines DevOps as a blending of practices and tools designed for faster and higher-quality delivery of applications and services. DevOps combines the traditional approaches of development (“Dev”) and operations (“Ops”) into a new approach to software development and IT infrastructure administration.
DevOps Goals and Techniques
One of the goals of the DevOps model is to remove the silos typical of development and operations teams. DevOps seeks to help the two teams to work more closely together, sometimes literally merged into a new, unified team that handles everything from initial coding to ongoing maintenance.
DevOps engineers and consultants use a variety of techniques and tools to automate formerly manual processes. The goals are to provide a seamless experience throughout the entire app development and operation process, to speed up that process, and to ensure higher-quality results.
By employing DevOps, you can likely:
- Improve the quality of your applications
- Create an enhanced experience for users
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Increase efficiency of your operations
- Improve employee productivity
- Reduce the costs of your IT operation
To implement DevOps in your organization, you need staff seeped in DevOps culture and techniques. This expertise is typically provided by DevOps engineers and DevOps consultants.
What is a DevOps Engineer and What Do They Do?
A DevOps engineer is an in-house tech person trained to implement the DevOps approach and manage processes on a day-to-day basis. In most instances, the DevOps engineer does not create the integration plan but is responsible for implementing it in an effective and cost-efficient manner.
DevOps engineers work within the IT department to combine and automate key tools and processes commonly used by both development and operations teams. While DevOps engineers can personally get involved in the coding and engineering processes, they more often guide the other members of the teams in the integration process. They also help to evaluate the applicable technology systems and recommend ways to improve them.
According to Glassdoor, DevOps engineer is one of the most in-demand tech jobs today. Despite a median base salary of slightly more than $110,000, DevOps engineers are in continuous short supply. They typically come up through the software development or system administration ranks and then specialize in DevOps later in their careers.
What is a DevOps Consultant and What Do They Do?
In contrast to the in-house DevOps engineer, a DevOps consultant is a third-party professional hired by an organization to fill a particular DevOps role. Some DevOps consultants are engaged on a short-term basis to address a specific issue, often setting up the firm’s DevOps design and processes. Other DevOps consultants are hired on a longer-term basis to fill an ongoing DevOps engineering services role.
DevOps consultants bring an outside viewpoint to a firm’s operations. Drawing on years of experience with other clients, a DevOps consultant provides the knowledge and skill that an organization might otherwise have to build organically. As such, a DevOps consultant is uniquely suited to evaluating a firm’s culture, tools, and practices – and to recommend a course of action to best address the company’s specific needs. DevOps consultants seldom get personally involved in the coding process. They instead help design and manage the big picture operations.
DevOps Consultant vs. DevOps Engineer: Which Do You Need?
When you want to integrate your development and operations teams more tightly, which should you employ: a DevOps consultant or a DevOps engineer?
A common course of action is to initially engage the services of a DevOps consultant to help evaluate the situation, put together a plan of action, and then hire one or more DevOps engineers to manage the process on an ongoing basis. This helps a company get up and running quickly with the DevOps approach while bringing qualified staff on board to keep it running over the long term.
Another approach is to handle everything internally, hiring experienced DevOps engineers to both design and manage the DevOps process. This approach is limited by the firm’s ability to identify, recruit, and retain hard-to-find DevOps staff. It also is an approach that takes longer to implement.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble and expense of hiring your own DevOps staff, you can outsource both the initial phase and ongoing management of your DevOps process. Many Software and Digital Product companies, such as Encora, offer long-term DevOps consulting that relieves you of the burden of managing an in-house staff. For example, Encora offers a variety of DevOps engineering services, including continuous integration and deployment, infrastructure support, server and product maintenance, and release management.
You should choose the approach that best works for your company and its current IT department. You’re not limited to one way or the other; many firms go with a mix of in-house DevOps engineers and third-party DevOps consultants.