DevOps widespread, but not yet seen as strategic, survey shows

New survey of more than 2,100 IT managers by F5 Networks finds cloud dominating application plans, while DevOps is still emerging.

While DevOps is all the buzz in the IT management space, a new survey finds the majority of organizations still don't see DevOps as having a strategic impact as of yet. Rather, Software as a Service is the IT initiative currently seen as having the greatest strategic value -- and "cloud-first" policies now rule in terms of application development priorities.

boardroom3-photo-by-joe-mckendrick.jpg

No DevOps seen in the boardroom, yet.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Those are some takeaways from a new survey released by F5 Networks, covering the input of 2,197 IT executives and professionals on topics as wide-ranging as DevOps and security application services and standards.

Overall, the survey finds, DevOps was selected as having "strategic impact" by just 20 percent of respondents. In many regards, DevOps may still be seen by many as an IT improvement project, a tactical move to streamline software development and release, versus something that moves the business forward.

This perception may change over time, as DevOps has roots in manufacturing culture, in which successful companies such as Toyota learned a long time ago that designers and engineers needed to keep their activities in sync with production schedules to be able to deliver quality products in a timely manner.

The view of DevOps as a strategic initiative was lowest among respondents in executive roles, of whom 17 percent see DevOps as a business strategy. Executive-level respondents say IT initiatives with the greatest strategic impact include SaaS (42 percent), big data (41 percent), and IaaS (39 percent).

Among respondents in staff-level positions -- identifying as having DevOps and cloud-related roles -- 39 percent consider DevOps to be strategic, in third place behind SaaS (44 percent) and big data (42 percent). "This is in spite of evidence that organizations are engaging in at least the automation and orchestration aspects of DevOps," the report's authors observe.

The number of respondents using at least one framework for their DevOps efforts doubled over 2016, from around 20 percent to nearly 50 percent. These frameworks are being employed for scalability and reduction of operational expenses. Among users, popular DevOps frameworks include those provided by VMware (57 percent), Cisco (37 percent), OpenStack (24 percent), Python (20 percent), Puppet (13 percent), and Chef (9%).

The cloud is thriving and more and more organizations are embracing cloud-first strategies, the survey also shows. Forty-seven percent of respondents say their organizations are required to evaluate cloud-based IT solutions before making new IT investments, up from 33 percent in last year's survey.

Cloud expertise also remained a concern for respondents, with 23 percent reporting that they don't have in-house or readily available external expertise in public cloud.

It's probably no surprise that cloud is a dominant factor in IT plans over the next 12 months,. Eighty-five percent of respondents say they intend to move at least some applications to the cloud. One in five say the majority of their applications will be going to the cloud. About half, 46%, will be moving up to one-quarter of their apps to the cloud over the course of the year.

The applications with the highest on-premises private cloud footprints are internal finance (44 percent), human resources (40 percent), and billing (38 percent). The most prevalent public SaaS-based applications include digital marketing (14 percent), human resources (13 percent), and customer mobile support (11 percent).

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