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DevOps is hot but most IT pros say practices need improvement

New survey reveals there's still much work to be done with DevOps, since it involves a lot of players across the enterprise
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on
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Image: Maskot/Getty

To advance in a technology-focused career, it's important to embrace the practice of DevOps, which take collaboration and automation to a whole new level. However, despite years of work and yes, hype, most DevOps practitioners are not happy with the state of DevOps within their organizations.

DevOps is an important career choice in itself. A recent glance at the Dice technology jobs listing shows more than 7,000 open positions for DevOps engineers and specialists. Companies are seeking such individuals who can drive "automation and containerization strategies," as well as "collaborate with product owners, developers, cloud engineers, DevOps engineers and operations to plan, design, test and deliver pipelines and infrastructure using Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) model."

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As you can see, the scope of DevOps actually extends beyond the core work of DevOps engineers, and involves everyone in the software pipeline. Everyone needs to become DevOps practitioners to one degree or another. Let's just call it what it is: Agile computing, enhanced by automation and cloud services.

Alas, there's still much work to be done, and since it involves a lot of players across the enterprise, it invokes cultural issues. And that's where things get interesting, and companies could certainly use talent that can help resolve the persistent organizational challenges as well.

In other words, anything related to DevOps implementation or flow calls for both technical and business savvy.

Tellingly, a recent survey of 600 IT managers and professionals by Progress Software, finds that people at the front lines of software design and deployment aren't happy with the progress of DevOps. No less than 73% of respondents admit "more could be done" to improve DevOps practices. DevOps and its extended variant DevSecOps -- with security addressed at the beginning of the flow of software between developers and operations teams -- has been on the minds of many for years now, but it's still a struggle to integrate into the work of software shops. 

At least 76% acknowledge they need to be more strategic about how they manage these processes, and 17% even still consider themselves at an exploratory and proof-of-concept stage. 

Security is the number one driver behind most DevOps and DevSecOps implementations. Yet only 30% feel confident in the level of collaboration between security and development. A majority, 86%, experience challenges in their current approaches to security and 51% admit that they don't fully understand how security fits into the bigger picture. 

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Culture is the biggest barrier to DevOps success, more than seven in 10 respondents, 71%, agree. Still, corporate cultural change is often outside the purview of IT managers and professionals. Only 16% are in a position where they are able to prioritize culture as an area to optimize to move forward with greater collaboration and automation.

The study's authors paint a profile of the successful DevOps practitioner: 

They learn to overcome obstacles to collaboration: "There was still a lack of confidence in the ability for different teams, such as security and app development, to successfully communicate and collaborate with each other," they state. "Leadership prioritizing the importance of cross-functional communication can go a long way to address this."

They balance new technology implementations with processes and culture: "Cloud-native development, AI and policy-as-a-code have begun to influence DevSecOps strategy. But organizations must be careful to balance modernizing technology, processes and culture, as focusing on just one area will not be enough."

They bring teams together: There are many conflicting areas of interest when it comes to integrating DevOps into corporate culture. "Prioritization must start from leadership, yet many executive teams were not placing enough importance or investment into the key areas that will drive DevSecOps success. This included adopting a holistic approach to DevSecOps that engaged teams from across the organization."

They understand how to build confidence in securing cloud-native adoption. "While organizations are making strides into appropriately securing workloads based on containers/Kubernetes, there is still work to be done. In addition to fully implementing and leveraging the benefits of cloud-first technologies, it's essential for organizations to think about cloud security."

They constantly seek to refresh their skills. DevOps advocates "recognize the importance of security training and upskilling. This helps them reach a higher level of continued long-term collaboration between security and development teams. According to the respondents, the top business factors driving the adoption and evolution of DevOps inside their organizations include a focus on agility; reducing the business risk of quality, security, and downtime or performance issues; and the need to implement DevOps to support a cloud-mandate or their move to the cloud."

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