Supportive leadership is a critical factor in widespread success and evolutionary improvement in DevOps: study

In a report involving surveys of over 2,650 professionals in IT, development, and information security, including 424 in the Asia Pacific region (APAC), many respondent organizations in the middle stages of their DevOps evolution had plateaued. Among these mid-evolution teams that were part of the study, cultural blockers remained the biggest hurdle to reaching DevOps success.

The most common culture blockers at the mid-level included a culture that discouraged risk (21%), had unclear responsibilities (20%), de-prioritized fast flow optimization (18%), and had insufficient feedback loops (17%). 

In the APAC region, culture was identified as less of a barrier among respondents as DevOps practices evolved. APAC respondents were less likely (37%) than the total (47%) to say the blockers to more advanced DevOps were cultural. Some 23% said the blockers were related to tech, while 40% linked both culture and tech equally. 

Other report findings include:      

  • 91% of highly evolved respondent teams reported a clear understanding of their responsibilities to other teams, compared to only 32% of low-evolution respondents. 
  • 65% of mid-evolution respondents reported using the Cloud; 20% cited using the cloud to its full potential. Some 57% of high-evolution respondent teams satisfied all five NIST cloud capability metrics compared to 5% percent of low-evolution respondents.  
  • 90% high-evolution teams in the study had automated most repetitive tasks, compared to 67% of mid-level respondents and 25% of low-evolution respondents.  
  • Among highly evolved respondent organizations, 51% integrated security into requirements; 61% into design, 53% into build, and 52% into testing, in contrast to mid-level respondent organizations in which security became involved only when there was a scheduled audit of production or an issue reported in production.  
  • Fewer than two percent of high-level respondent organizations reported resistance to DevOps from the executive level, compared to 13% of those in the low-evolution respondents. 
  • Further key determinants for mid-evolution respondent organizations to achieve DevOps success at scale included a successful platform team approach; organizational buy-in from both managers and practitioners; a strong automation practice; and a willingness to accept risk and invest for the future.

According to Nigel Kersten, Field CTO, Puppet, the firm that conducts the annual report on the state of DevOps: “A standout finding from the report is the importance of team identities: organizations with less ambiguous team names with more clearly defined team responsibilities (were) more likely to be more highly evolved in their DevOps journey.”

Kersten asserted that the title ‘DevOps team’ is misleading as it allows many organizations to assume that having a DevOps team means they are doing DevOps correctly. “We recommend less ambiguously named stream-aligned and platform teams, which create a more well-defined path to achieving DevOps success at scale.”  

Commented Michael Stahnke, VP, CircleCI: “The final stage of DevOps evolution is often the building of a highly leveraged platform and team structure, incorporating self-service capabilities beyond infrastructure. When it is really done well, the word DevOps tends to fall away as it is just how work is happening.”