The road to DevOps is paved with problems

Puppet’s 2017 State of DevOps Report: Key takeaways

Gabriela Motroc

© Shutterstock / Jeo-Pardy

“DevOps practices lead to higher IT performance” — this is Puppet’s conclusion after six years and over 27,000 DevOps survey responses. This year, the company also found that the beneficial effects of DevOps go beyond financial results. Let’s have a look at the key findings.

It’s that time of the year: a new State of DevOps report by Puppet and DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) is out. The companies analyzed “how effective leaders influence the technical practices and process improvement changes that lead to higher IT and organizational performance and confirmed that automation is a key differentiator for organizations.”

This year, they analyzed 3,200 survey responses from IT professionals, developers and executives and noticed that the percentage of people working on DevOps teams increases each year. Three years ago, only 16 percent of their respondents worked on DevOps teams and now the number has almost doubled (27 percent).

The road to DevOps is paved with problems

When a company adopts DevOps, there are a lot of questions to be answered, starting with “How to get engineers on board” (find the answer here) and “How to get leaders on board.”

“Everyone recognizes that engaged leadership is essential for successful DevOps transformations,” according to the Puppet report. The company found evidence that “the presence of leaders with transformational characteristics is not enough to achieve high DevOps outcomes.”

Because leaders cannot achieve DevOps outcomes on their own. DevOps success also depends on a suitable architecture, good technical practices, use of lean management principles, and all the other factors that we’ve studied over the years.

SEE ALSO: “A measure of DevOps is also *how* you achieve your ability to deliver code” [Interview with Nicole Forsgren]

The report revealed that high performers do significantly better than their lower performing peers in terms of throughput and stability. The findings show that high performers have:

  • 46 times more frequent code deployments
  • 440 times faster lead time from commit to deploy
  • 96 times faster mean time to recover from downtime
  • 5 times lower change failure rate (changes are 1/5 as likely to fail)

When compared to the 2016 results, the gap between high and low performers narrowed for throughput (deployment frequency and change lead time), and widened for stability (mean time to recover and change failure rate).

Practices common to successful DevOps organizations

This year’s report concluded that these factors positively affect continuous delivery:

  • comprehensive use of version control;
  • continuous integration and trunk-based development;
  • integrating security into software delivery work;
  • and the use of test and deployment automation.

Of these, test automation is the biggest contributor. 

However, an even bigger contributor to continuous delivery is if a team can do all of the following:

  • Make large-scale changes to the design of its system without permission from someone outside the team.
  • Make large-scale changes to the design of its system without depending on other teams to make changes in their own systems, or creating significant work for other teams.
  • Complete its work without needing fine-grained communication and coordination with people outside the team. For example, not having to check 12 Google calendars to get feedback.
  • Deploy and release its product or service on demand, independently of other services the product or service depends upon.
  • Do most of its testing on demand, without requiring an integrated test environment.
  • Perform deployments during normal business hours with negligible downtime.

Empowerment is key

The report revealed that “many development teams working in organizations that claim to be agile are nonetheless obliged to follow requirements created by different teams. This restriction can create some real problems, and result in products that don’t actually delight and engage customers, and don’t deliver the expected business results.”

SEE ALSO: DevOps is to some degree being conflated with “Digital Transformation” [Interview with Dr. Daniel Bryant]

The findings show that a team’s ability to try out new ideas and create and update specifications during the development process (without requiring approval from outside the team) is an important factor in predicting organizational performance, as measured in terms of profitability, productivity, and market share.

Although the authors of the report do not propose that developers should be set free to work on whatever ideas they like, they claim that “empowerment must be combined with the other capabilities we measure here: working in small batches; making the flow of work through the delivery process visible to everyone; and incorporating customer feedback into the design of products.”

State of DevOps: Key findings

  1. Transformational leaders share five common characteristics — vision, inspirational communication, intellectual stimulation, supportive leadership, and personal recognition —  that significantly shape an organization’s culture and practices, leading to high performance.
  2. High-performing teams continue to achieve both faster throughput and better stability
  3. Automation is a huge boon to organizations.
  4. DevOps applies to all organizations.
  5. Loosely coupled architectures and teams are the strongest predictor of continuous delivery.
  6. Lean product management drives higher organizational performance.

The report concluded that “since nearly every company relies on software, IT performance is critical to any organization doing business today. And IT performance is affected by many different factors, including leadership, tools, automation and a culture of continuous learning and improvement.”

Get the report here or download the infographic (a collection of some of the most interesting findings from the 2017 State of DevOps Report).

If you want to learn more about DevOps, JAX London conference is the perfect choice for you.


Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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