When it comes to DevOps practices, adoption continues to lag intention by quite a bit.
GitLab recently surveyed some 5,300 software developers and engineers from mostly small and medium businesses around the world. The survey examined overall attitudes and perceptions around the state of DevOps, with a particular focus on uncovering any disparities that might exist between developers and IT management.
The responses showed that many organizations are sold on the idea of DevOps, especially those who have implemented it. Sixty-five percent of the developers polled felt that using a DevOps workflow would save development time. An even higher 81 percent of managers shared that same sentiment.
Organizations with an integrated DevOps strategy reported a high correlation between DevOps practices and overall team productivity. Development teams that deploy code on demand and spent more than half their time on new projects, for instance, had twice the rate of DevOps adoption compared to lower-performing teams. Higher-performing teams also generally considered automation of the software development life cycle a top priority and had access to better tools.
Yet, the number of organizations in the survey that have actually implemented DevOps practices was far smaller than the otherwise enthusiastic support for it would suggest. In fact, only 23 percent of the respondents in the survey identified their team’s methodology as following a pure DevOps model. Thirty-five percent described their DevOps culture as being somewhat established.
The low adoption rates are somewhat at odds with Forrester Research’s prediction about 2018 being the “Year of Enterprise DevOps” and may reflect the global nature of the survey base and the fact that many respondents were SMBs. Forrester found DevOps adoption to be around 50 percent when it conducted a survey of its own of 237 DevOps pros last year.
GitLab’s survey found that while developers view DevOps as critical to software development life cycle, many have not implemented a DevOps workflow. Similarly, while over 95 percent of the survey respondents placed a high value on collaboration and 81 percent felt that such collaboration was easy to achieve, 25 percent said they did not have enough visibility into operations, security and production. And 42 percent reported unclear directions as one of their biggest challenges to getting work done.
Culture continues to be a big roadblock. “It’s hard to get Dev and Ops to work together in a cross-functional way,” said Mark Pundsack, head of product at GitLab. “That challenge can be exacerbated by tooling. Disjointed toolchains lead to disconnected processes and barriers to communication that get in the way of working together.” Many developers in the survey reported using at least five tools to get their job done.
Nearly 6 in 10 of the survey respondents (58 percent) pointed to ingrained practices as their biggest roadblock to adopting new tools and practices, while 50 percent blamed an inherent resistance to change.
Interestingly, remote employees tended to have a more favorable outlook on how things were going with DevOps, with 67 percent saying they had good visibility into what others in the organization were doing compared to 57 percent of on-premises teams.
“DevOps culture is clearly important to achieving high performance,” Pundsack said. “For managers … the survey identified the top challenge in getting work done was unclear direction and managers should be able to play a role in fixing that.”
The apparent gap that exists between intent and adoption was not the only surprise in the survey, Pundsack said. Also unexpected was the extent of the discrepancy between how executives think their teams are operating, and what developers are actually saying. When asked how often they deployed code, 47 percent of managers were under the impression their organizations were deploying multiple times a day in contrast to the substantially smaller 39 percent of developers who said the same thing.
That one area aside, though, developers and IT manager seemed better aligned on other issues in the Gitab survey. For example, more than three-quarters of both developers and managers feel they are set up to succeed and about one-third of them felt that they deadlines they have to deal with are fair.
GitLab’s survey showed that most organizations expect to invest in continuous integration and continuous deployment tools in 2018, with nearly half strongly agreeing that CI can help speed up the development process.
“CI can help alleviate blockers in the development cycle such as removing the manual process to verify code before deploying,” thereby allowing development teams to have a faster and more effective feedback cycle, Pundsack said.