Accelerate State of DevOps Report 2019

What do top DevOps performers have in common? Tips for elite performance

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Vixit

The Accelerate State of DevOps Report from DevOps Research & Assessment (DORA) takes the pulse of the DevOps ecosystem for the sixth year in a row. Their findings include important tips on what separates elite performers from the rest, and what strategies to implement for higher productivity, more code deployments, and better disaster recovery.

The Accelerate State of DevOps Report 2019 reveals insights into ways organizations can support productivity initiatives and implement DevOps strategies. This year marks the sixth annual report from DORA, compiling data from over 1,000 professionals from around the world.

It’s no surprise anymore that DevOps is in-demand. According to a report published by Dice Insights based on Burning Glass Nova data, the current top in-demand tech skills are DevOps, C++, and Python. DevOps specialists are top income earners in the United States, India, Germany, and the United Kingdom, earning an impressive penny of over 100,000 USD.

How can you and your team grab a slice of the pie and rise up the ranks? Take a look at the data and see how you can help propel your team towards the elite.

DevOps elite characteristics

What sets the elite DevOps groups apart and what do they all have in common? According to DORA, the proportion of elite performers has almost tripled from last year. Elite performers deploy code consistently.

Here are some tips:

  • Holistic approach: The solution for better performance is to first understand your current constraints and decide short and long-term outcomes in measurable terms. Management should be more flexible and not micromanage plans.
  • Continuous integration: The usage of continuous integration allows for faster feedback, and thus, faster deployment.
  • Disaster recovery exercises: The survey found that “organizations that conduct disaster recovery tests are more likely to have higher levels of service availability”. One of the keys to disaster recovery is working cross-organizationally. Organizations that implemented action items based on what they learned during disaster recovery exercises are more likely to be in the elite performing group.
  • Formal change management processes slows performance: The use of formal approval processes makes teams 2.6 times more likely to be low performers. Requiring the approval of an external change advisory board only slows down performance.
  • Non-traditional management: Survey respondents who had a clear change process were more likely to be in the elite percentage of performers. Clear change processes move away from traditional management.
  • Easy to use tools: Simple to learn, optimized, and easy to use tools are an indication of a top performer. Elites use a mix of proprietary tools, open source, and commercial software.
  • Let teams take risks: A study from Google showed that high-performing teams required a culture of trust. This required psychological safety and the ability to be vulnerable and take risks. Psychological safety leads to better software delivery performance and higher productivity.

Avoiding burnout

One of the key performance factors was work recovery and burnout. It’s no secret that tech culture can sometimes encourage working long hours, past what is healthy. Low performers are frequently burnt out and overworked at their jobs. This can also impact the quality of life outside the office. Work recovery is important for not only physical and mental health but it helps improve efficiency during high-risk work.

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According to the research, detaching oneself from work outside of the physical office is a great way to reduce burnout. Management should work to reduce workloads, give employees greater control and balance, and encourage stepping away from work during evenings and weekends.

Technical processes such as clear change management can also help avoid burn out and low performance.

Rely upon multi-cloud and hybrid solutions

The survey asked respondents where they host their primary network. This year, 80% of respondents said that their primary application or service is hosted on some kind of cloud platform, with 27% responding that they use a hybrid solution.

What does it mean to adopt cloud-based solutions? DORA highlights five essential characteristics of cloud computing that one must adopt:

  • On-demand self-service: Users require no interaction from the provider when provisioning computing resources.
  • Broad network access: Users can access capabilities via a variety of means, including mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc.
  • Resource pooling: Resources are pooled into a multi-tenant model with on-demand physical and virtual resources.
  • Rapid elasticity: Capabilities can rapidly scale at any time.
  • Measured service: The cloud automatically optimizes based upon the type of service.

Elite performers were likely to agree that they met these characteristics, taking advantage of all the cloud offers.

Dip in demographics

This year, demographics mostly remained fairly consistent with previous years, seeing no unnaturally large changes.

The number of respondents were overwhelming male, with 83% male, 10% female, and less than 1% non-binary. (7% did not specify.)

SEE ALSO: Women in tech: Have you faced gender-based discrimination?

However, according to the research, a median of 16% of teams include women members. Compare this number with last year’s results, which reported that a quarter of teams included women. The reason for this change is unknown.

Take a look at the data for yourself and see what DORA says about the present (and future) of DevOps.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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