Data Centers

Why the DevOps faithful keep pulling away from their competitors

Puppet's State of DevOps survey shows the smartest DevOps organizations are faster than ever, while the laggards are falling way behind.

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Image: iStockphoto/oneinchpunch

For most companies, reading Puppet's annual State of DevOps report is cause for a heavy dose of Prozac. For the curmudgeon CIO, statements like "High performers deploy 200 times more frequently than low performers, with 2,555 times faster lead times" and high performers have "24 times faster recovery times and three times lower change failure rates" than low performers must be depressing.

SEE: 2016 DevOps Trends to Look Out For (TechRepublic)

Depressing or not, the reality of business today is that it's increasingly built by software developers, and those developers move faster. And faster. And faster. This is evidenced by one succinct chart in the report, and should be a huge motivator for every company that still thinks DevOps is a fad.

The chart of doom

Here's the chart in question:

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Image: Puppet

Even if you believe the 4,000+ IT professionals who were surveyed are smoking too many DevOps doobies, this chart should concern you. Because no matter how you read it, it says: "Someone is moving faster than you are, and probably much faster." That "someone" could be a competitor, and if they iterate this much faster than you do, you're toast.

Not shown in the chart are other benefits of DevOps practices, among them:

  • Employees in high-performing organizations are 2.2 times more likely to recommend their organization to a friend as a great place to work, making it simultaneously a great retention and recruitment tool.
  • High performers spend 50% less time remediating security issues than low performers, and 22% less time on unplanned work, leaving them much more time for building new code.

Also not shown is the reality that a new generation of enterprises operate much, much faster than the four deploys per day that the report assumes for high-performing enterprises. Etsy, as the report calls out, deploys 80 times per day. Amazon and Netflix? Thousands of times per day.

The DevOps rich are getting richer

Unfortunately, the pace has accelerated far faster for high performers than for anyone else. As the report states, "Compared to last year, high performers significantly improved throughput, going from 200 deploys per year to 1,460 deploys per year," all while "improv[ing] their

lead time for changes, going from days to minutes."

SEE: Your enterprise needs more developers... a lot more (TechRepublic)

As for low performers, they're comfortably numb, stuck at the same level of throughput for the last three years.

For many companies, the high performers won't look like their traditional competitors. For example, while Hertz is right to worry about Avis "trying harder" and ultimately pulling ahead, it has far more to worry about in Uber, which is upending the whole notion of rental cars (not to mention taxis). Oh and Uber? It is a very high DevOps performer.

As mentioned, one reason that DevOps matters is that it reduces the amount of unplanned work that development teams must do, leaving them nearly half their time to build new functionality or other "new work," as the chart shows. DevOps-savvy teams report far less unplanned work like break/fix work, emergency software deployments and patches, or responding to urgent audit documentation requests. This means they spend more time inventing the future, rather than fixing the past.

This product stability derives from releasing more often, such that each release is effectively a "non-event." These "non-events" add up, however, to help enterprises innovate through software. The good news is that more companies report themselves as doing this, with 22% of survey respondents identifying themselves as part of a DevOps team in 2016, up from 16% in 2014.

The bad news? You might be part of the other 78%. Time to fix that and get up to speed.

Also see

About Matt Asay

Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.

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