All the State of DevOps Reports since 2013

It’s not that easy to find all the annual state of DevOps reports, partly because they forked in 2017 between Puppet and Google/DORA. Below I’ve listed each report by year, and I’m in the process of listing all the key findings from each report. Some reports provide greater insights than others.

Year – Publisher – Key Findings

2013 – Puppet – ***

2014 – Puppet

2015 – Puppet

2016 – Puppet

2017 – Puppet and DORA

2018 – Puppet

  1. DevOps drives business growth – maintaining a robust software delivery and operability function increases productivity, profitability, and market share.
  2. Cloud technology correlates with business performance – this is enabled by reliable and sustainable cloud infrastructure, utilised via cloud native patterns.
  3. Open source software improves performance – high-performing IT teams are 1.75 times more likely to use open-source applications.
  4. Functional outsourcing can be detrimental to software performance, and Elite Performers are rarely using it.
  5. Technical practices such as monitoring and observability, continuous testing, database change management, and the early integration of security in software development all enable organisational performance.
  6. DORA identified high-performing organisations in a range of profit, not-for-profit, regulated, and non-regulated industries. The industry you’re in doesn’t affect your ability to perform.
  7. Diversity in tech is poor, but improving, and teams with improved diversity demonstrate higher performance than those that don’t.

2018 – DORA – I can’t find this anywhere. If you know a link, please let me know!

2019 – Puppet:

  1. Doing DevOps well enables you to do security well.
  2. Integrating security deeply into the software delivery lifecycle makes teams more than twice as confident of their security posture.
  3. Integrating security throughout the software delivery lifecycle leads to positive outcomes.
  4. Security integration is messy, especially in the middle stages of evolution.

2019 – Google:

  1. The industry continues to improve, particularly among the elite performers.
  2. The best strategies for scaling DevOps in organisations focus on structural solutions that build community, including Communities of Practice.
  3. Cloud continues to be a differentiator for elite performers and drives high performance.
  4. To support productivity, organisations can foster a culture of psychological safety and make smart investments in tooling, information search, and reducing technical debt through flexible, extensible, and viewable systems.
  5. Heavyweight change approval processes, such as change approval boards, negatively impact speed and stability. In contrast, having a clearly understood process for changes drives speed and stability, as well as reductions in burnout.

2020 – Puppet:

  1. The industry still has a long way to go and there remain significant areas for improvement across all sectors.
  2. Internal platforms and platform teams are a key enabler of performance, and more organisations are adopting this approach.
  3. Adopting a product approach over project-oriented improves performance and facilitates improved adoption of DevOps cultures and practices.
  4. Lean, automated, and people-oriented change management processes improve velocity and performance.

2021 – Puppet:

  1. Organisational dynamics must be considered crucial to transformation.
  2. Cloud-native approaches are critical. It is no good to simply move traditional workloads to the cloud.
  3. Shift security, compliance and change governance left, and include security stakeholders in all stages of value delivery.
  4. Culture change is key, and must be promoted from the very “top” as well as delivered from the “bottom”. Psychological safety is at the core of digital and cultural transformations.

2021 – Accelerate:

  1. The “highest performers” continue to improve the velocity of delivery.
  2. Adoption of SRE practices improves wider organisational performance.
  3. Adoption of cloud technology accelerates software delivery and organisational performance. Multi-cloud adoption is also on the increase.
  4. Secure Software Supply Chains enable teams to deliver secure software quickly, safely and reliably.
  5. Documentation is important to being able to implement technical practices, make changes, and recover from incidents. 
  6. Inclusive and generative team cultures improve resilience and performance.

 

The Puppet State of DevOps Report 2021 – A Summary

I get a bit confused every year about who is writing the State of DevOps Report, and how that gets decided, and in the past it’s been Puppet, Google, DORA and others, but this year, 2021, it was definitely Puppet.

[Edit: apparently there are two State of DevOps reports now… I’m staying out of that particular argument though!]

The state of DevOps report each year attempts to synthesise and aggregate the current state of the technology industry across the world in respect to our collective transformation towards delivering value faster and more reliably. Or as Jonathan Smart puts it, “Sooner. Safer, Happier”. The DevOps shift has been in progress for over a decade now, and whilst DevOps was always really about culture, the most recent reports are now emphasising the importance of culture, progressive leadership, inclusion, and diversity more than ever before.

Last year, in 2020, the core findings of the State of DevOps Report focussed on:

  1. The technology industry in general still had a long way to go and there remained significant areas for improvement across all sectors.
  2. Internal platforms and platform teams are a key enabler of performance, and more organisations were starting to adopt this approach.
  3. Adopting a long-term product approach over short-term project-oriented improves performance and facilitates improved adoption of DevOps cultures and practices.
  4. Lean, automated, and people-oriented change management processes improve velocity and performance over traditional gated approaches.

 

This year (2021), there are a number of key findings building on previous DevOps reports:

1. Well defined and architected Team Topologies improve flow.

Clear organisational dynamics including well-defined boundaries, responsibilities, and interactions, are critical to achieve fast flow of of value. Whilst last year highlighted the importance of internal platforms, this report emphasises the importance of Conway’s Law, and shows that well defined team structures and interactions, such as platform teams (which scale out the benefits of DevOps transformations across multiple teams), cross-functional value-stream aligned teams, and enabling teams strongly influence the architecture and performance of the technology they build. Team “Interaction Modes” as seen in the diagram below are also critical to define, in the same way that we would define API specifications.

DevOps and Team Topologies

The book Team Topologies expands upon this concept in great detail, and Matthew and Manuel, the authors, also provide excellent training in order to apply these concepts to your contexts.

Clear team responsibilities

What is also clear from the State of DevOps Report this, and has been for some time, is that siloing DevOps practices into separate “DevOps teams” is an antipattern to success in most cases. And there should still be no such thing as a “DevOps Engineer”.

2. Use of cloud technology remains immature in many organisations.

Whilst the majority of organisations are now using cloud technology such as IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service), most organisations are still using it in ways that are analogous to the ways we used to manage on-premise or datacentre technology. High performers are adopting “cloud-native” technologies and ways of working, including the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)essential characteristics of cloud computing: “on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity or expansion, and measured service.” How these are implemented is very context-specific, but includes the principles of platform(s) as a product or service, and high competencies in monitoring and alerting and SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) capabilities, whether as SRE teams, or SRE roles in cross-functional teams.

Cloud native capabilities and devops

3. Security is shifting left.

High performers in the technology space integrate security requirements early in the value chain, including security stakeholders into the design phase and build phases rather than just at deploy, or even worse, run, phases. Traditional “inspection” approaches to security, governance and compliance significantly impact flow and quality, resulting in higher risk and lower reliability. Applying DevOps principles and practices to include change management, security and compliance improves flow, reliability, performance, and keeps the auditors off your back.

DevSecOps transformation

Whilst some call this DevSecOps, many would simply call it DevOps the way it was always intended to be.

4. DevOps and Digital Transformation must be delivered from the bottom-up, and empowered from the top-down.

Culture is the reflection of what we do, the behaviours we manifest, the practices we perform, the way we interact and what we believe. Culture change is never successfully implemented only from the top-down, and must be driven and engaged with by those expected to actually change their behaviours and practices.

DevOps transformation promotion

Cultural barriers to change include unclear responsibilities (enter Team Topologies), insufficient feedback loops, fear of change and a low prioritisation for fast flow, and most importantly, a lack of psychological safety.

Psychological safety and risk

A lot of these findings, unsurprisingly, echo the findings from Google’s 2013 Project Aristotle, which showed that psychological safety, clarity, dependability, meaning and impact were crucial for high performance in teams.

Extra note on “Legacy” workloads.

The report highlighted the “dragging” effect that legacy workloads can have on flow and change rate, as an effect of their architecture, codebase, or infrastructure, or the fact that nobody in the organisation understands it any longer. Rather than leave alone your legacy workloads, invest in them “so that they’re no longer an inhibitor of progress”. This could be as simple as virtualisation of physical hardware, or decomposing part of the system and moving certain components to cloud-native platforms such as Kubernetes or OpenShift. Even if you have to do something a bit “ugly” such as creating 18GB containers, it’s still a step forward.

TL;DR

  1. Organisational dynamics must be considered crucial to transformation.
  2. Cloud-native approaches are critical. It is no good to simply move traditional workloads to the cloud.
  3. Shift security, compliance and change governance left, and include security stakeholders in all stages of value delivery.
  4. Culture change is key, and must be promoted from the very “top” as well as delivered from the “bottom”. Psychological safety is at the core of digital and cultural transformations.

If you’re interested in finding out more about DevOps and Digital Transformations, Psychological Safety, or Cloud Native approaches, please get in touch.

Thanks to Nigel Kersten, Kate McCarthy, Michael Stahnke and Caitlyn O’Connell for working on the 2021 State of DevOps Report and providing us with these insights.

View the 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report summary here.