According to a portion of TechTarget’s ‘Essential Guide: How to implement a successful SaaS business model,’ “DevOps is the blending of tasks performed by a company’s application development and systems operations teams…DevOps is an operational philosophy that promotes better communication between development and operations as elements become programmable. (While) DevOps describes the part of an organization’s information technology team that creates and maintains infrastructure…it may also be used to describe team(s) of software engineers, and cloud consulting companies who strategically look at the entire software delivery chain, overseeing shared services and championing the use of new development tools and best practices.”

While the description above suggests a larger perspective driven by today’s ‘cloud systems’ as a primary operational advantage, in my view, the real story accrues to overall cultural changes that methodologies foster; and how ‘cloud-based app engineers’ have been encouraged by DevOps and other approaches have become more effective knowledge-producers. In the event, then, the cloud consultant not only helps establish the enterprise train strategically but supports the design and creation of the tactical engine that pulls it; whether it applies to a simplified configuration container project or a full-fledged applications environment, encompassing global, all-scale functionalities.

What do cloud consultants offer in direct support of real-world development?

The list of services/products oriented to supporting various cloud evolutions is long and detailed, however; in general, the cloud consulting mix can be broken down into four central task-oriented categories, plus two subordinate product-specific tiers including:

Cloud-based Evaluation

– Research enterprise needs, challenges, and the production of feasibility analyses
– Define, and develop key enterprise objectives
– Define, and develop affiliated enterprise KPI’s
– Validate, refine, and/or develop IT process rules
– Validate, refine. and/or develop current performance
– Research, analyze and validate standing enterprise systems lifecycles-
– Research, analyze and validate developmental processes
– Research, analyze and validate the efficiency of departmental/individual skills cadres
– Research, analyze and validate necessary work process capabilities
– Research, analyze and validate necessary enterprise-scale performance metrics

Cloud-based Design

– Strategic enterprise blueprinting
– Define and deliver necessary operations outlines
– Define and deliver necessary migration priority schedules
– Define and deliver necessary next-step task ladders
– Define and deliver necessary implementation needs analyses
– Identify, and resolve any emergent-system challenges
– Identify and assess opportunity targets
– Measure and validate necessary enterprise resources loads
– Define, establish, and propose short, mid, and long-term goal schedules

Cloud Implementation

– Supervise the execution of previously established enterprise blueprints
– Tailor and deliver necessary best-practices programs driven by the elimination of enterprise-scale development, operations and QA silos
– Establish, deliver and guide the application of necessary standards/policy rules
– Execute remedial workforce sessions as necessary
– Mentor cross-departmental resources as necessary
– Directly support cross-departmental workforces as necessary
– Resolve all cross-departmental objections as necessary
– Supervise, validate and deliver necessary post and after-action metrics
– Identify and propose relevant cloud-driven toolsets
– Additional cross-departmental engineering resources as necessary

Cloud Management

– Post-implementation provisioning of project management resources
– Provide additional cross-departmental mentoring
– Provide remedial staff training as necessary
– Define, identify, and secure additional external management resources as necessary
– Execute post-implementation reviews
– Refine and validate DevOps process sets, thereby ensuring that all enterprise blueprint requirements are met and adhered to
– Establish and define programs, materials and processes that support enhanced go forward planning

Typical Consultant-Applied Cloud Products

– Engineering and utilization of specialized toolsets including, but not limited to; Puppet; Chef; Docker; Ansible; Azure; OpsWorks; SaltStack; Jenkins; Jira; Git; SVN; Hewlett-Packard HPE, Orca, Logstash; Loggly; Splunk; Hadoop etc.

Typically Applied On-demand Cloud Computing Platforms & Cloud Services

– Microsoft Azure Cloud
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
– Google Cloud

In all cases, the central driver for all activities regarding a cloud consulting engagement is the integration of comprehensive education mixed with the leveraging of cutting-edge cloud-oriented processes, standards, policies, and cutting-edge products. Consequently, any necessary enterprise change evolution will be fraught with challenges, both from the outset all the way to the termination of a systems project.

Nevertheless, where business innovation exists, opportunity follows, and consequently, the cloud consulting sector has emerged to become one of the fastest growing and most innovative commercial sectors globally during the last ten years; whether that growth related to straightforward process manufacturing requirements, all the way to highly-complex FinTech systems development.

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