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Advanced DevOps, EA skills needed: Time to outsource?

Today, midsized companies are struggling to hire tech talent, especially those with advanced DevOps and Enterprise Architect-level skills. Fortune 2000 companies have the financial clout to attract developers and IT services providers. Meanwhile, SMBs often face a tough, multi-month slog to find contract tech services providers, according to Steve Mezak, CEO of Accelerance, a company which has created a global network of development services providers.

Mezak’s assessment reminded me of interviewing Java FX expert Rob Terpilowski at JavaOne 2015 about his challenges in hiring DevOps contractors. The process of filling contract positions used to take a couple of weeks and now takes two-to-three months, said Terpilowski, software architect for Lynden Inc., a freight shipping and logistics company in Seattle.

Mezak and Andy Hilliard, Accelerance president, talked to me recently about the current developer shortage and their IT outsourcing services. We also discussed why the rise of connected applications is driving the need for enterprise architecture change and, logically, for highly-skilled enterprise architects.

Mezak and Hilliard did a lot of legwork before launching Accelerance’s IT outsourcing services. “We got on airplanes and visited and evaluated IT services companies around the world,” Mezak said. “We looked at hundreds of companies and ranked their expertise in about 40 different technology areas.” So far, Accelerance has 50 certified partners in 30 different countries.

Companies using Accelerance usually find DevOps service providers in six days or less, largely because Accelerance has a list of who has the right tech skills to offer. Just evaluating independent developers or service firms’ skillsets takes more time than most businesses have, said Mezak.

Hilliard added that the complexity of IT today increases the need for and difficulty of qualifying contractors. They need experts who can help with decisions about and implementations of continuous integration and continuous deployment processes, containerization, microservices and more. “There’s a need for a much more sophisticated level of talent, more at the architect level,” he said.

It’s unusual for companies to ask Accelerance specifically for DevOps experts, when seeking personnel. “They’re saying, ‘I just need help getting these web applications built and deployed,’” Mezak said. That can often require what is called DevOps expertise, of course.

But IT architectures are much more dynamic today than they have been it in the past. “Architectural support is critical now because how these applications are deployed and how they communicate,” Mezak said.