DevOps and the cloud are not only two of today’s biggest tech trends, but are inextricably linked. Research from DORA’s 2018 Accelerate State of DevOps Report and Redgate’s 2019 State of Database DevOps Report outline a clear correlation between cloud and DevOps adoption, with the two working together to contribute to greater business success.
For example, in the DORA report, those companies that met all essential cloud characteristics were 23 times more likely to be in the elite group when it came to DevOps performance. Similarly, Redgate found that 43 percent of organizations that have adopted DevOps have server estates that are all or mostly cloud-based. This compares to just 12 percent of organizations that have not yet adopted DevOps or have no plans to.
Looking into the link in more detail, research shows that there are four common factors that underpin DevOps and the cloud:
Cultural Openness to Transformation
Adopting DevOps is not just a technical or process change, but one that requires a certain type of culture to be in place. The renowned sociologist Ron Westrum famously categorized business cultures into three groups in his seminal paper A Typology of Organizational Cultures:
- Pathological: Power-oriented, with low co-operation, a culture of shooting messengers bearing bad news and the crushing of novelty.
- Bureaucratic: Rule-oriented, with limited co-operation, a neglect of messengers and a suspicion of novelty.
- Generative: Performance-oriented, with high cooperation, messengers encouraged and a focus on learning from mistakes and embracing novelty.
It’s no coincidence that DevOps and cloud adoption both thrive best in a generative culture that is open to innovation and is focused on collaboration and continual learning and improvement. In fact, the DORA research found that a generative culture correlates with elite performance when it comes to software delivery, and that this group is 1.8 times more likely to recommend their team as a great place to work.
Building this open culture requires team members to feel safe about taking risks, rather than continually covering their backs, as well as good communication from leaders. This psychological safety underpins the continuous improvement mantra of DevOps and the innovation that the cloud delivers.
The Importance of the Cloud to Enabling Faster Software Delivery
As the DORA report found, cloud users are more likely to be elite performers when it comes to DevOps. But the research also highlights that there is a lot of confusion about what “moving to the cloud” actually entails. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as having five essential characteristics:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity
- Measured service
Just 22 percent of DORA respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they met all of these criteria. Those that did were 23 times more likely to be elite performers when it came to software delivery. This shows that simply moving to the cloud alone doesn’t lead to DevOps success—the switch needs to be implemented professionally, in a planned way. This goes back to culture—the same openness to innovation has to underpin both, DevOps and the cloud, to realize their full benefits.
Breaking Down Barriers
One of the key points of a generative culture is openness to collaboration, which is clearly essential to DevOps and, in particular, incorporating the database into DevOps flows. In the past silos, rivalries and even animosity built up between application developers and database administrators (DBAs). In many ways this isn’t surprising—developers are focused on getting new code out of the door, while DBAs are seen as protecting data and databases and ensuring uptime.
However, for DevOps and the cloud to succeed, teams need to take a holistic view that breaks down team barriers. Redgate’s research shows that this is now happening, starting with the working relationship. Sixty two percent of respondents characterized the relationship between DBAs and developers as either good or great, up from 58 percent in previous years. This is heartening—only 13 percent said the relationship was poor with DBAs completely siloed, unaware of what’s happening in development, and deploying database changes to production in isolation.
In teams that have adopted DevOps across all projects, the great and good collaboration rises to 76 percent, with 41 percent stating great collaboration—almost double the overall average.
This collaboration is also reflected in daily activities. For example, over three-quarters (77 percent) of application developers are also responsible for database development and building database deployment scripts. In 47 percent of companies, developers are also responsible for the deployment of database changes to production.
Putting in Place the Right Tools
The collaboration behind successful DevOps and cloud adoption requires companies to introduce common practices and common tools across the entire process. This is reflected in figures from the Redgate research, with a growing adoption of the same tools within application and database development. Version control is now used by 83 percent of respondents for application development, and 55 percent for database development, rising steadily from 81 percent and 53 percent respectively in 2018. Particularly encouraging is the significant uptake in continuous integration—a cornerstone of DevOps—which is now used by 53 percent of respondents for application development and 27 percent for database development, up from 40 percent and 21 percent in 2018.
All of this is leading to increased usage of third-party tools across DevOps processes. The most substantial year-on-year change is the use of third-party provisioning tools—which has doubled from 12 percent for the application and 8 percent for the database in 2018 to 25 percent and 15 percent respectively this year.
In increasingly competitive markets, companies rely on software and data to differentiate themselves and drive success. And this, in turn, is underpinned by DevOps and the cloud, which provide the agility, speed, quality and flexibility to develop and deploy software more quickly and safely than before. Businesses therefore need to adopt both if they are to achieve elite performance across their software operations.