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When to Use a Kubernetes Managed Service vs. Hiring Internally

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Over the years in leadership at Fairwinds I've been part of making decisions about hiring in-house talent or using a managed service. There are a number of situations where we hired outside. For example,  payroll firms, benefits managers or marketing firms - some of it has been wonderful, other parts more painful. When our core work is intimately intertwined with what we need done, I almost always choose having someone internal.

There are limitations and huge variations, however, in outside service providers. There is, for example, the website design company that built us a website which wowed our online audience. But it wasn't very functional for our marketing team to leverage as a growing and constantly changing platform. It was beautiful, and engaging, but completely inflexible. Later we leveraged a different vendor, a managed service provider who was heavily incentivized for our interactions to be highly automated. The experience was completely different.

Rule of Thumb

When it comes to the technology that drives your business lean on a few rules of thumb:

  1. For your company's core competency, try to bring as much of it in-house as possible.
  2. For any problem that has already been solved, leverage existing solutions or experts, don't waste your time re-inventing the wheel.
  3. When you are, someday, as big as Apple, bring everything in-house. Until then, find the wise places to leverage external services.
  4. Managed services will always have better aligned incentives (long-term success) than consulting services (drop in, build something nifty, and leave).

What to do with Cloud Infrastructure

The world of cloud infrastructure is like the studio and mixing specialization a band leverages to create its music. That is to say, for almost every band, their music is unique and is the thing they actually sell. The recording equipment, and studio space, and mixing and mastering tools are absolutely essential for the band to record that music. But getting really good at designing studio space, or mixing/mastering their music would be a distraction. These folks know what makes them money, and what they're good at, and they want to spend their time becoming the best musicians in the world. With this in mind, they spend their life practicing together and making something new and unique, then go leverage the same studio space as many other bands before them, and trust those people to do what they do best.

Likewise, cloud infrastructure is not the thing that makes most companies their money. They need great cloud infrastructure or they can't make money. But becoming great at building the world’s most fascinating cloud-infrastructure is a distraction from their products and services —the things that actually make them money.

For a concrete example, you could hire a group of the world's best database administrators or leverage a really great managed database service like AWS RDS or Google CloudSQL. In some cases you'll need both, but for the average company, you'll save a tremendous amount of headache by going with the service backed:

  • by the experts at the cloud company
  • by years of experience doing nothing but running a database service
  • by years of experience breaking things and getting them right
  • by experience at scale you'll likely never have.  

It’s hard, with an in-house team to competently cover backups, scaling, sharding etc.... You can get great at it, but it will likely be a distraction and not the best use of resources.


At Fairwinds we offer  managed Kubernetes services because Kubernetes is all we do. Our product is our software and services to make succeeding with Kubernetes a reality for others. Think of us as your mixing and mastering specialists. You've already agreed to rent your studio space from one of the clouds, now leverage Fairwinds to get the best infrastructure for your application, saving you time, money, scars (oh the scars we've earned the hard way...), and ensure your  long term success as we stick around alongside your team

Fairwinds can accelerate your cloud adoption, your cloud-native technology adoption, and enable your team to get back to making great music (and hopefully building amazing products too!). 

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