DevOps still suffers from silo effect, survey shows

When DevOps works, it works well. But it's still hampered by too much data, conflicting data, and lack of communication between teams, a recent study concludes.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

DevOps has been around for some time, and in recent years, has gained traction as a "must-have" across enterprises, as pressure builds to release software in almost hourly spurts, versus the multi-week or multi-month schedules of the past.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Of course, for DevOps to succeed, the two main parties in this agreement, developers and operations teams, need to have a clear understanding of what each is doing, and to what. It calls for a lot of communication and data sharing. Unfortunately, this is still missing from many environments where DevOps is being practiced.

This is one of the takeaways in a new survey of 1,004 IT executives from Atlassian and xMatters, which examined the current matiruty levels of DevOps. The findings: a lot of progress, but still some missing pieces. Overall, 41% of respondents indicate they have some level of DevOps activity in their organizations. At least two-thirds of this group said that their DevOps initiatives were "producing the benefits they expected to see." The DevOps practitioners are experiencing a faster time to market, improved customer experiences, fewer customer-facing incidents, faster resolution times, and a rapid-fire pace of innovation.

However, as the study's authors remind us, 59% of respondents either did not know what DevOps was, or were not sure if their companies were doing it. So, there's a lot of work and evangelization that needs to be done.

Among DevOps-practicing companies, the technical foundations are in place, but the organizational aspects still need some work. Eighty percent reported that development and operations share at least some tools. However, actual knowledge sharing is lacking. Only 17% of these companies reported having open information available to cross-functional teams in dynamic formats such as wikis and chat rooms. The majority indicated that information is shared "only when requested, and only in static formats."

Perhaps there's a need for what Jason Hand coined as "ChatOps" in his book by the same name, Essentially, he defines it as the use of group chat tools to advance DevOps -- it evolved as a communication platform for DevOps from software engineers managing source code to an enterprise-scale communication requirement.

Overall, things go relatively smoothly with applications once they are released into production via DevOps processes, the xMatters-Altassian survey finds. Only seven percent report major application issues following release. Forty-one percent report new applications "occasionally have minor issues requiring fixes once in production." Another 22% report that the continuous integration that is part if DevOps have been successful in revealing potential problems prior to release, and 17% relate that continuous deployment has enabled "quick rollbacks to remediate operational issues."

Another 11% seem to have even reached DevOps nirvana, stating that their DevOps processes invoking continuous delivery and continuous improvement actually "prevent the need for rollbacks."

The Atlassian-xMatters survey report's authors looked at incident management, which they regard "as the true test of DevOps maturity. Are companies able to react to major issues in time? Do they have the right processes in place to communicate what needs to be done?"

The report authors conclude that "many companies have still not yet figured out how to manage incidents well." Fifty percent report having to wait for the operations center to declare a "major incident," while 43% use a manual process to keep customers and internal stakeholders up to date. Another 34% say they experience delays in incident resolution while waiting on subject matter experts.

Too much data, conflicting data, and lack of communication between teams are at issue, the researchers conclude. "While monitoring provides a boatload of data, understanding it and synthesizing it is what truly makes it actionable. And with companies waiting on the word of operations and subject matter experts, the lack of real-time information is making incident management a challenge."

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