Exploring DevOps culture: Facts, myths, and everyday realities

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DevOps--It is a movement that has launched thousands if not millions of discussions, articles,  and conferences. But is it simply a buzzword, or is there substance to its claims? Back in 2009, when DevOps was first popularized, the new movement set out to offer a culture of openness, innovation, and transparency which would lead to increased code deployment and higher quality products. Much of these theories were based on the Agile Manifesto, which encouraged collaboration as well as frequent deployment and testing of code. 

DevOps took this to the next level by combining the roles of Developers and Operations professionals in order to increase agility and accountability amongst teams. Now, developers as well as operations share responsibility for producing quality, functional code and are required to work together to achieve these common goals. So as you can see, there is much to be said about the role of culture in DevOps implementation. In fact, we ourselves grappled with the question of whether DevOps is more of a culture or a role in a post last year

We came to the conclusion that it is very much both. So due to the prominent role culture plays in the success of DevOps implementation, we at Logz.io decided to investigate how much DevOps stayed true to its cultural promises and whether or not this affected the quality of the products produced. Hence, we created our DevOps Pulse 2017 survey with dedicated section on culture. 

For this survey, we compiled data from over 700 organizations across the globe in order to discover exactly how successful DevOps culture actually is. Here are our most interesting findings: 

DevOps is Still in Its Infancy 

With 50% of businesses still in the process of DevOps implementation, DevOps still has yet to fully mature. Generally speaking, the process takes the majority of teams between 6-12 months to accomplish, but 42% of respondents spent one year or more in the implementation stage.   

Some challenges to implementation include lack of time as well as lack of expertise. Additionally, the top challenges to establishing DevOps included shifting company incentives to change behaviors, maintaining open communication and transparency, and having flexible processes.   

Despite the fact that DevOps is still in its infancy, the skills of DevOps Engineers are in high demand, as can be seen by the salaries reported. Today, around 45% of DevOps engineers now make at least $100,000 a year, showing that the field is deeply respected and only growing with time.    

DevOps Culture is Alive and Well 

Overwhelmingly, most respondents agreed that DevOps contributes to their team’s overall agility. Close to 70% claimed that it either always or usually has a positive impact on agility while 20% claimed it only sometimes has this effect. It seems that DevOps as a culture has much to do with this increased agility. 

About 66% reported that their team (whether developers or operations staff) always or usually share common goals while 75% see at least some shift in the way they perceive their role as well as the roles of others within their team.   

Collaborative work environments are also also on the rise, though there is still some work to do in this area. 73% report a fair to good amount of collaboration, while only 11% believe their teams have an excellent collaborative environment. It should be noted that although very few of our respondents reported a top-notch collaborative culture, being that DevOps is still in the process of adoption in many of these organizations, this may be an aspect that is still a work in progress.   

In contrast, 76% of those surveyed reported an emphasis on communication in their work environment, which will hopefully lead to increased collaboration as DevOps practices continue to mature.   

A Culture of Impact 

As I previously mentioned, there seems to be a correlation between adoption of DevOps’ cultural practices and increased agility. This becomes further emphasized when examining the quality of products produced by DevOps teams.   

DevOps advocates suggest that the ultimate goal of DevOps is to provide an open, collaborative culture that builds high quality products by working together, communicating, and continuously testing code to ensure it is as outstanding as possible. In other words, the culture of DevOps is supposed to directly lead to a superior end product. But does it? 

The majority of those that took our survey answered that both speed and quality were important for their particular team; however,  as opposed to only speed, only quality came in second place, showing that quality is given a higher priority than speed if only one option can be selected.   

Furthermore, 89% of our respondents answered that the increased collaboration required in DevOps had at least some impact on the quality of products produced. Finally, about 77% of those surveyed believe that DevOps leads to an increase in innovation, a fact that we believe exemplifies the very essence of DevOps values.   

Concluding Thoughts 

A lot of emphasis is put on DevOps as a culture, but it has been difficult to prove whether or not the practices we preach directly lead to actual results. Our DevOps Pulse survey set out to examine just that.    

We found that while DevOps adoption is still in its beginning stages, many of the values we hold dear have already begun to produce results. There is a clear correlation between increased communication, shared values, and collaboration in the ability to become more agile. Logically speaking, this may be due to the fact that having a team that shares goals and is committed to work together makes producing quality results easier and more efficient. 

Despite the fact that certain aspects such as collaboration haven’t been perfectly implemented across the board, the results we see are promising, especially putting into context the fact that 50% of businesses we surveyed are still in the process of DevOps implementation.   

Once DevOps matures and teams are able to get over the leading obstacles of lack of time and lack of expertise, we will likely see an increase in adoption of the core DevOps values in DevOps teams, contributing to even greater overall success.   

Asaf Yigal Co-Founder and VP of Product at Logz.io 

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