Case Study:

Retooling a development team with with a Kubernetes Skill Sprint

Nebraska has a small but thriving tech scene. Since 1976, Omaha-based DMSi has provided the market leading ERP platform for the construction industry. No stranger to retooling pains, DMSi selected a Skill Sprint from Darwinist to help them properly realize their investment into Kubernetes. DMSi was already quite advanced on their journey with Kubernetes but lacked a strong pattern for using this key technology. Kubernetes knowledge was concentrated in a single senior manager and they struggled to find good quality support on the market.

“The value of the Kubernetes Skill Sprint is incredible. In 5 days, Andrew was able to take three software engineers with little to no Kubernetes knowledge and create a team that was more than confident in the technology. Not only that, he was also able to guide us to build out a complete working pipeline for our dev, test, and prod environments. The result is a workflow that reduces cost and complexity, while increasing the resiliency of our environments, the quality of code and our development experience. Again, the value of this Skill Sprint cannot be overstated.

Nathan - Developer Participant

“The Skill Sprint with Andrew from Darwinist was extremely impactful, for our organizational architecture and my personal growth. Prior to the Skill Sprint, Andrew spent time with us over virtual calls to gain context on our current process and architecture to help better understand and plan. During the onsite Skill Sprint we learned to create Kubernetes Clusters, move many repos into GitHub, and create a GitHub Action pipeline. All of our code repositories are now able to independently deploy feature branches into namespaces within the k8s cluster. We were able to walk away with a great baseline for staging and production environments along with the knowledge needed to support and share amongst the rest of our development team.”

Adam - Developer Participant

“We were two years into our Kubernetes journey with a brittle and difficult to manage production system. We wanted to be able to test our deployments alongside our code but we lacked suitable dev and test environments. We were taxed for time and inundated with blogs and tutorials all suggesting different and increasingly complex solutions. Working with consultants represented the hint of an easy button but it would be expensive, time consuming and wouldn’t bring training for our developers. In the long run, with traditional consulting, we’d be in the same position anytime something needed changing.

We ran across Skill Sprints from Darwinist. Having implemented week-long, sprint-style cadences for other efforts, we felt strongly that we should give it a try. The Skill Sprint Leader, Andrew, worked directly with our developers. He focused on teaching more than delivering a product. The sum total is that our developers delivered the finished product. Within the first two days of the Skill Sprint, they had a fully-fledged dev environment with feature-branch testing. By the end of the week, we had reached a decision over two years in the making around hosting platforms and had received the blessing to push our configuration into production.”

Matt - Software Engineering Manager

“Skill Sprints are the best thing since sliced arrays! Intense, focused work on your actual business problem, not vague training you have to try to apply later. Skill Sprints give you tangible results immediately. Our newly skilled engineers were able to pay forward teachings to the rest of their team. This cemented their learning and raised the knowledge level of everyone. We went from one part-time, involuntary DevOps and Kubernetes “expert” to three developers who can spin up our entire environment anywhere at the drop of a hat, and have taken ownership of getting everyone else up to speed. Skill Sprints absolutely rule.”

Adam - Senior Architect

DMSi actively maintains a culture of developer autonomy and clearly embraces the value of investing in their people as a main driver for quality and innovation. The success of the Skill Sprint is testament to the advanced skills and mentality of the team. Within a couple of days we’d already broken the back of the problem and were able to reliably deploy their microservices into a Google Cloud hosted Kubernetes cluster.

Now with a strong foundation and the right skills inhouse, DMSi are able to independantly move forward with Kubernetes.