Whats the best solution for a start-up looking to out-source dev-ops?

Jonathan Weinstock CTO | Leader | Business Strategy | Technical Architect | Monetization | SEM | Ecommerce | Analytics | Product Management

August 6th, 2015

We are a small start-up with a technical and business co-founder. As the tech co-founder I want to spend time building our site, not setting up and monitoring servers. Hiring a full time employee seems like over-kill given where we are in our build. I would love to get thoughts on how other small start-ups have handled this task.

Shobhit Verma Ed Tech Test Prep

August 6th, 2015

To avoid DevOps, PaaS like Heroku, Digital Ocean, Parse( from facebook ) is preferred.
If you insist on doing it yourself, there are tools like OpsClarity which can reduce the pain.

Doug Winter Founder and Director of Isotoma

August 6th, 2015

Get some or all of your existing developers skilled up.  The majority of devops activity results in code changes in your application stack anyway, so the developers do need to understand their production environment.

Shobit is entirely correct as well, if you can go higher up the value chain to things like Heroku you are actually outsourcing a lot of the ops pain.  Developers without much operational nous can handle Heroku very effectively. 

Where you are likely to need specialist knowledge is in areas like performance, where design decisions can have massive impact.  Much of that should really fall to you as the tech co-founder though, to go read some books if you don't have the expertise already ;)

Barrett Griffith Product Engineering Consultant

October 9th, 2015

I was in a similar situation as a Technical Co-Founder and CTO.

Back in 2011...
I went with Managed Hosting. 

-It got me working side-by-side with sys admin experts who knew the ropes in this area better than me. Nothing beats "learning to fish" while having your stack configured correctly. 
-No need to hire another employee or out-source so you save time.
-SLA which an out-sourced resource will not be able to offer.

-Document everything so you can build the knowledge base for your future DevOps team or even better, replicate the managed hosting environment on an environment you control for redundancy. You might even be able to require the managed hosting team to automate this for you.
-Have a milestone to get off managed hosting that is supported by your stakeholders.

Depending on your needs, the costs might be prohibitive. 

It's 2015 and the expanded cloud offerings have changed a lot. It sounds like you might benefit from a service like Cloud66. I like Doug Winter's suggestion as well, and feel an organization that empowers it's engineers to solve it's problems will be more nimble when responding to required changes and problems.

You should also consider a dedicated development server that all development happens on. Did you know you can configure independent development environments on the same server that lets developers work on projects in parallel? Equally powerful for remote and co-located teams. Even with tools like vagrant and docker, there's time spent on setup for every programmer on your team, the images will need updating across the whole team and you are burning cash for that. 

Paul Stewart Founder, Director of Development at Arck Interactive

October 9th, 2015

We provide fully managed hosting, infrastructure and DevOps to tech focused small businesses at ArckCloud. Shoot me a private message and we can talk about your needs.

Joe Emison Chief Information Officer at Xceligent

October 11th, 2015

I think the best option is to go serverless/backend-as-a-service (e.g., Firebase, Parse). Barring that, PaaS (as mentioned by Shobhit) is not a terrible choice, but it's not as talent- or time-saving as one would have you think.

You're right to think about outsourcing DevOps--it's super expensive, and terribly inefficient right now. Managed Hosting is straight out of 2005, but it's probably better than hiring in-house DevOps, who will set up a bunch of stuff that will be obsolete garbage in 2-3 years. The technology is so new, so bloody, and so complicated that it can't help but drastically change and improve constantly.

Peter Johnston Businesses are composed of pixels, bytes & atoms. All 3 change constantly. I make that change +ve.

October 15th, 2015

IT used to be hard. All those C: prompts, strings... stuff no normal person could understand. No wonder they created an IT dept and stuck it in the basement.

It doesn't have to be like that. Don't create a 21st century startup with 20th century thinking. 

Companies are now made up of pixels and bytes. Technology is not a department now - it has to be interwoven with everything we do. It should be intuitive for everyone - not so hard that only a specialist can handle it.

So forget about DevOps and all the other things designed to say - "this is hard, leave it to an expert". Instead focus on making it simple and easy to understand for everyone. Let someone else do the hard stuff.

This is easier than you think.
Sign up with a cloud provider - AWS, for example. Go to Bitnami, who provide one-click set up of all the programs you could ever need - CRM, ERP, Marketing Automation, Payments, Accounts - the lot. That means the only bit you need to think about is your own - the bit that makes you special.

You don't have to worry about scaling, or going global. No worries about uptime, viruses or whether you have a big enough datapipe. You don't really need a CTO - you most certainly don't need a DevOps person. It just works.

One last thing. "Sites" are twentieth century too. We now blog on Medium or Facebook, not on our own websites. We interact direct from Facebook. We navigate with Google. People stay in their social world and we have to go to them, not expect them to come to our "site".

There is a whole new generation coming through - the YouTube generation - who live on their mobiles. They don't visit websites. And there are a whole generation of companies who use datascience to hide all the complexity and deliver what people need or want, when they need or want it. The mobile is becoming the User Interface for anything and everything. It is no longer mobile first but mobile only for all but the most niche of products and services.

And it is about to get worse. Immersive technologies - virtual reality, hololens etc. will make screens a thing of the past. If you're not thinking experience, but are still thinking "site" you're stuck in the past.

Every specialist tries to build a nest for themselves in the company, full of stuff only they know how to do. Resist that temptation and - if you're the founder -stamp on it when you see it in others. Everything - technology, design, finance etc. should be part of a combined system, not a department doing its own stuff.


August 7th, 2015

These are some of the tools/technologies will help out in devops tasks.


Again, docker and vagrant are simple yet powerful however has limitations. chef/knife solo is somewhat complex but extremely powerful.