Microsoft provides a huge variety of products, most of them being enterprise-grade solutions like Office 365, Skype for Business, Outlook, Dynamics CRM, etc. These solutions are hosted on Azure and in order to use them with full efficiency you need access to solid Azure DevOps managed services and expertise. However, as Azure is unlike any other cloud, finding such expertise is quite hard. Here is how you can approach this challenge.
There are really just three ways to gain access to Azure DevOps expertise:
- hiring such a DevOps engineer in-house or as a freelancer
- subscribing to Azure technical support
- working with a team from an IT outsourcing company.
The first variant is the most commonly attempted and the most challenging one. Due to the fact that Azure runs Windows Server OS as its mainframe (while still providing Linux and other OS on demand), people who start learning to work with Azure cannot expect to be employed anywhere else. Therefore, these DevOps specialists are most commonly employed by large corporations with fat paycheques or by Azure itself.
However, there still are freelancers that provide Azure DevOps services on TopTal, Upwork and other platforms. If you are not afraid to trust your mission-critical systems to a freelancer based on its reputation on some online platform – you are welcome. However, as we said before, as Azure DevOps expertise is mostly required to run enterprise-grade products with access to sensitive information, trusting this task to a complete stranger is not what most businesses prefer to do.
The process of recruiting an Azure DevOps engineer in-house does not differ from any other recruitment. There might not be unemployed specialists in your area, or they can be available but not skilled enough to work for you, or they might leave mid-project — the risks are standard. To negate these risks, many businesses prefer to work with the Azure platform itself or its certified partners,
This is the second point of our list and it is a wise decision from many aspects. Your tasks will be completed by certified Azure professionals, while you will be covered by SLA and NDA. The drawback here, however, is that these specialists will use Azure-specific services, meaning vendor lock-in, and they will not always respond at once, as your tickets will be added to a queue along with requests from all other Azure customers.
A combination of these factors forces many companies to outsource their Azure DevOps operations to a company already housing relevant expertise. In this case, you will also be covered by NDA and SLA, but your tickets will be a part of a much smaller queue and will be resolved much faster. In addition, you will be able to form the scope of work and recommend the tools to use, so the team will replace Azure-specific services with open-source analogs wherever possible to minimize your expenses.
How to find such a team then? Google for relevant skills, customer reviews and independent ratings online. Ask Azure technical support of the recommended certified partners. Look for top-rated teams on various business rating platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms.
Finally, you should have several technical calls with potential contractors. A reliable Azure DevOps team knows the inner workings of the platform and can highlight potential challenges with your project from the start. They might even have ready solutions for these challenges, based on their experience from previous projects. Using these solutions will help greatly reduce time-to-value for your project.