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DevOpsGuys assist customers in the transformation of their software and services delivery.

The company was founded in March 2013 with two members of staff, there are now over seventy. Each year the business has doubled in size and this continues to be the plan.

Learning points

  • On site storage provides no more security than storage in the cloud, and probably far less resilient.
  • Utilise technology so that staff are elevated to work at their potential and are not undertaking menial or repetitive tasks.
  • Whilst digital communication is efficient, do not underestimate the impact of face-to-face interaction.

Overview of the business

Image of DevOps logo

In the digital age, technology is disruptive to business operations – DevOpsGuys enable organisations to engage with digital culture and the opportunities that come through the cloud, big data, mobile and social media (the Four Pillars of Technology).

They do this through the transformation of business IT departments and building of a new operating model. These activities strongly link with the ‘Dev Ops’ movement, where the development team that builds the product and the operations team who run the product work closely together.

The organisation employs a team of 22 staff, based mainly in Cardiff (its only UK location), and operates four key market verticals (sectors they specialise in):

  • retail
  • insurance
  • multi-media and telecoms
  • the public sector.

DevOpsGuys is accredited on all of the government procurement frameworks to provide services. Companies that DevOpsGuys support include:

  • ASOS
  • Waitrose
  • DVLA
  • Companies House
  • #Ministry of Justice

DevOpsGuys provide Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet. The business works with industry leading partners Microsoft (with their Azure collection of integrated cloud services) and Amazon Web Services, delivering solutions on top of these platforms.

DevOpsGuys information flow diagram

Highlighting the internal and external communication flows of the business.

Superfast broadband adoption

The business was able to access superfast speeds from the moment they moved into its current offices in 2014. Without this speed, they would not have chosen the premises. It is not possible to get a leased line into the building so broadband is delivered through a satellite connection. The business achieved typical download speeds of around 80Mbs and upload of 90Mbps. High speed connection is vital to the business as all activities are conducted online in the cloud.

"Everything is in the cloud. All our emails, all of our work tracking system, all of our HR systems, our accounting systems, everything is in the cloud. It is all accessed by our browser and all of our systems management, remote systems management for clients, all of that infrastructure exists on the internet"

Manager, DevOpsGuys

The majority of employees work remotely from locations across the UK, with their performance judged on outcomes rather than hours. There is also a team in Sofia, Bulgaria. In order to manage this remote team a number of software packages are used, and teams meet or connect up digitally most mornings to discuss what needs to be achieved in project areas.

Those employees that are ‘local’ to the Cardiff headquarters office work flexibly in the office, at home or in other locations. Once a month the team meets physically, which after software licences is one of the largest costs to the organisation. The DevOpsGuys manager noted the importance of maintaining face-to-face interaction:

"I've talked to a lot of big, global companies where they've only ever had these remote relationships with staff. I have worked in several and those remote relationships work, but in every instance I've met people they've always said, for the people they've never met, they just wish they could meet them once. And I think that's really important, I think that in the first meeting you develop that bond"

Manager, DevOpsGuys

IT skills capacity

Founded in March 2013 with two members of staff, there are now over seventy. Each year the business has doubled in size and this continues to be the plan. The use of office space, however, is limited by the number of desks available rather than broadband speed.

Alongside all staff members being particularly tech savvy, the way in which DevOpsGuys work with other firms ensures that employees are not doing the menial tasks that could otherwise be taken care of by technology. This said, in working with the IT departments of organisations, most of the people they come in to contact with are IT literate.

Due to their nature as a digital business, software licensing is the second biggest cost after staff. DevOpsGuys invest around 20% of their time and money in research and development (R&D), to continue to innovate in the business. They are currently carrying out industry leading research working with Welsh Universities in order to develop new projects and products.

Use of digital technologies

DevOpsGuys work on a bespoke basis, meaning that there is not a specified product or service which they sell, rather they help their customers achieve certain capabilities.

The business extensively uses digital technologies and packages in order to communicate amongst the team and with customers. Its telephony and video conferencing is all Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enabled (Skype). The cloud based team collaboration tool, Slack, is also used. This integrates real-time chat with internal systems, for example, alerting users to changes in packages, or if someone has uploaded an invoice in the finance system etc.

As may be expected with such a digital technology based business, an important way in which it attracts clients is through the publishing of thought-leading material online through their website, an active blog and activities on social media.  However, they also engage with more traditional methods such as events, and meet-ups.  Repeat business and personal referrals are important to DevOpsGuys.

The most central element of DevOpsGuys’ operations is access to the internet, they operate no servers and store all data in the cloud. They are keen to promote the added security of this as storing in the cloud means that the item will be saved in a number of places and is recoverable by back-up processes. If the team are then unable to access the office, or if there is a fire, they are able to continue operating.

Furthermore, should data only be stored within the office environment on servers it remains vulnerable to the ‘human’ element of losing data through incorrect storage, or not ensuring that it is sufficiently protected from online attack.

"There is no more security having an on premise data centre than there is in a cloud environment. Actually, I would argue it is probably less secure. If you are running your own servers internally, you might have one person who knows something about technology and how to secure the networks, which are typically some of the vulnerable points. How many people do you think Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have trained to secure theirs? Hundreds and they've put hundreds of millions of dollars into that every day because if they get compromised that's the end of their business"

Manager, DevOpsGuys

As an software consultancy DevOpsGuys have been able to establish digital information flows across their business model. This can be seen in the information flow diagram (downloadable above), and underpins most of its business processes. Its consulting activities do, however, require an element of face-to-face interaction to understand customer needs and delivery consultancy to teams.

Business performance

DevOpsGuys would be unable to operate without high speed internet connection, and the ability to store data in the cloud.  This is something that is central to many of the organisations that they interact with also, with a migration to cloud computing leading to cost savings for customers; this is guided by the organisations evaluation that broadband connectivity reduces operational costs and improves efficiency across the board .