DevOps still very much a work in progress, survey suggests

Culture and complexity still keep developers and operations managers apart.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

DevOps is a great concept -- but many enterprises are still struggling to get out the starting gate with it.

Photo: CERN Press Office

That's the key takeaway from a recent survey of 2,045 IT managers and professionals, released by Quali, an IT automation solutions provider. While most people in enterprises would say at this point that they have DevOps underway in some shape or form, achieving agility is another story.

For example, the majority of IT managers, 59%, say it takes more than a week to make needed changes or to get employees and other end-users on board with infrastructure. While it's not exactly clear what is meant by infrastructure in this context, let's assume it means delivery of a functioning client front end that connects to all needed services on the back end. More than one-fourth, 26%, admit it takes more than a month. Twenty-three percent say it can be done in less than a day, while another 18% percent said it takes less than one week.

Self-service access to infrastructure is another hallmark of DevOps, since both development and operations teams need to be able to view the same online environments. However, more than half, 54%, of respondents indicated they had no access to self-service infrastructure. "This meant that more than half of respondents took a ticket-based approach to infrastructure delivery, impacting productivity and increasing time to market," the Quali survey's authors suggest.

Corporate culture is seen as the single top barrier to DevOps, IT managers say. Test automation and dealing with legacy systems round out the top three roadblocks. Application complexity also makes things tougher for DevOps participants -- a majority, 52%, say most of their applications are extremely complex.

"Where it breaks down is in practice," comments Shashi Kiran, chief marketing officer at Quali, in a related post. "Greenfield deployments remain innocent. Starting out with a clean slate is always relatively easy. Preserving or integrating legacy in brownfield environments is where it becomes both challenging and interesting. For the next several years that's where the action is. Enterprises that have invested in technology over the past few decades suddenly find that they can now actually create tremendous legacy inertia to move forward. So, while many have adopted DevOps practices, it has begun in pockets across the organization."

What can be done to smooth the path to DevOps? As noted in the Quali survey, DevOps is as much a cultural issue as it is an technology undertaking. Teams need to be brought together, and encouraged to work together. In a recent post at Forbes, Chris Cancialosi, Ph.D., a partner and founder at gothamCulture, recently provided some tips on how to accelerate DevOps adoption within enterprises.

"Many leaders, though they understand the immense impact DevOps can have on their businesses, don't quite understand where to start with a transformation of this magnitude.This is largely due to the fact that DevOps is not entirely a technology solution. It is also a fundamental shift in the way organizations structure themselves to get work done in a completely new way -- a culture shift that challenges the beliefs and assumptions that people hold true about each other, themselves, and their work."

Cancialosi says successful DevOps is all about measurement -- of both the process and the outcomes. That's how it can be sold to organizations. "First, measuring and understanding your current state baseline is critical," he states. "A valid and reliable assessment ensures you are in a position to change, assists in helping leaders understand the potential obstacles that currently exist in the system, and helps organize and prioritize the change activities that must happen in order to embed these new ways of working into the cultural fabric of your company."

Cancialosi also urges DevOps proponents to understand "what levers to pull to drive improvements in performance outcomes," and prioritize those improvements.

The Quali survey also examined solutions in place for DevOps management. The most popular tools for the DevOps process, cited by respondents included Jenkins (21%), Docker (16%), Puppet (14%) and Chef (13%).

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