Executives love continuous integration more than developers, for now

Latest CloudFoundry survey finds business leaders have high hopes for continuous integration/continuous delivery. In addition, multi-platform rules, and containers cross the chasm.

Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) is one of those things that promises to make Agile a reality, but requires a fairly thorough transformation in the workflows of IT organizations. (Why isn't it called "continuous improvement/continuous delivery?" Oh well.) Tellingly, the people in corner offices are pushing hard for it, while developers and IT staffers are holding back.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

That is one of the takeaways from a recent survey of 600 IT executives and professionals, conducted by CloudFoundry, which finds increasing adoption of newer techniques and technologies, from PaaS to containers to serverless computing.

Interestingly, the survey finds, there's a great deal more interest in CI/CD among managers than among developers or IT staff members. For example, 61 percent of the top executives and 67 percent of the IT managers see CI/CD as the most important initiative going forward over the next two years, compared to 36 percent of developers and 45 percent of architects. "CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, line of business leaders, and IT managers disproportionately see CI/CD as central to their two-year plans, suggesting a desire to change the culture and workflow for how software development and deployment occur," the survey's authors suggest.

The survey also finds 57 percent preferring a mix of cloud-native applications and refactoring of legacy applications when building new applications or functions. There's more of this mixing-and-matching taking place, up nine percentage points over the previous survey last year.

Overall, 77 percent are using or evaluating Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), 72 percent are using or evaluating containers and 46 percent are using or evaluating serverless computing. More than a third (39 percent) are using a combination of all three technologies together.

The survey finds IT teams are using (not evaluating, but actually using) the following technologies or approaches:

  • Containers 32%
  • DevOps 32%
  • Cloud-native architecture 25%
  • Continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) 23%
  • Microservices 23%
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning 21%
  • Serverless computing 19%

Containers have crossed the chasm, being the implementation method of choice for enterprises, the survey's authors report. The 72 percent of IT executives reporting interest in containers is up five points since last year's survey. The CloudFoundry authors also point out that the percentage of respondents "not using" containers has dropped from 34 percent to 19 percent from 2016 to 2018. Containers have crossed the chasm because "they give companies on their cloud journey a way to test out cloud-native technologies, for example building in continuous delivery practices and refactoring applications. For example, companies using containers can orchestrate them with the much-discussed Kubernetes, which IT Decision Makers rank as the top orchestration tool, overtaking Docker Swarm for the first time since we began tracking container orchestration tools."

The rise of containers maps closely to the rise of PaaS just a short time ago, they add. "Similar to PaaS in the first half of 2017, most IT decision makers we spoke with were evaluating containers with a smaller number actually using containers--and roughly in the same proportion we saw before PaaS's inflection point late last year."

The CloudFoundry team also document a sharp rise in serverless computing. Close to half of the executives, 46 percent, report using and evaluating serverless, a ten-point increase year over year, they find.

PaaS itself is up eight points from last year, to the current level of 77 percent using or evaluating. (At least 47 percent are currently using.) So far, so good with PaaS: IT executives report average savings of about $100,000 annually, and "credit PaaS for providing seamless integration with their current work environments and instilling the confidence to be prepared to work with new technologies in the future." Plus, people are more comfortable and knowledgeable about PaaS, the survey's authors add. " Respondents spoke with clarity about comparing, selecting and using different PaaS options--a stark difference from early research done by the foundation in 2015 and 2016, which surfaced a nebulous understanding of PaaS and limited grasp of its features."