What was the scope of their involvement?
We broke the project into four different pieces, the largest piece being the backend infrastructure, automation, and design of the backend operating system services. They started with a very small, focused task to make sure that their internal processes would line up with ours. When we provision a new client, we build a virtual environment for them in our data center infrastructure. The previous version was manual. They wrote a simple automation tool to automate the provisioning of backend infrastructure services.
After that first task, we assigned them the entire larger project with increasing levels of complexity. The next piece was to expand that tool and put together a design for integrating that process with our CRM platform. We were building a new CRM platform to automate the provision of customers in our CRM. They did the design and architecture for that.
The third piece was to architect and build a design for managing multiple modules that other vendors were developing, like the PBX module, the frontend web UI module, and another device we have called a site gateway that is a router that sits at a customer location. We needed to come up with the architecture and write the code for the messaging platform using RabbitMQ. They laid out the architecture, design, and messaging standards for the other vendors to work with.
They’re currently working on writing all of the backend functionality that integrates the work from the other vendors to automatically configure and provision the site. That’s the core of the platform. We’re in beta and testing.
From an infrastructure perspective, the platform is built on CentOS and Proxmox. The primary language is Python and there are other components like Django and Ansible. The web platform itself runs on Nginx.
Because they performed so well, we’ve handed over more and more of the operational product management to them. We had an internal product manager that we had to let go. IT Svit stepped in and took on that responsibility. We added it to the development work they were doing for us. Right now, they’re doing architecture, product or technical project management, architecture and design, and the actual development and coding. Over the next three to four months we’ll transition the development operations work, and probably the web UI design for the next version, to them.
What is the team composition?
We work directly with a lead technical product manager. We also communicate with other technical and business colleagues.
How did you come to work with IT Svit?
Because we had outsourced the last version four or five years ago, we decided to use a third-party company to build a platform. We needed a company with experience in the key technology platforms we were going to work on. We had decided to use Python as a development platform so we needed someone with a strong knowledge of networking and system services automation using Python but, in particular, Python automation inside the CentOS 7 environment. We’d had issues in the past with companies that had the right technical skill set—like working in Python or whatever technical language—but didn’t have experience with the Linux operating infrastructure to be able to automate the work. That was the most important thing we were looking for. It’s a rarity to find someone these days who does backend infrastructure automation and development work. It was quite challenging to find people for this function.
We received about 100 responses and narrowed down the list to about eight or nine. IT Svit came through very clearly. We interviewed them extensively from both a business operations, process, and project management perspective and from a technical project and product management perspective. Their responses were really on point. Most important for us was making sure that the lead technical product manager had the right skill set on the project management side. We verified that they had a really strong person who could both lead the project from a technical perspective and handle the architecture design and product management. I’m so lucky that we included them on that final list.
How much have you invested with them?
This project has cost about $13,000–$14,000 so far. We anticipate that the entire project will be about $100,000 in 2018 and double that for 2019 because we’re migrating additional work to them.
What is the status of this engagement?
We kicked off in late December 2017 but the work started in earnest in January.