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DevOps has undergone significant changes since the trend began more than a decade ago. No longer limited to a grassroots movement among ‘cowboy’ developers, DevOps has become synonymous with enterprise software releases. In our Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps, Workloads and Key Projects 2020 survey, we found that 90% of companies that had deployed applications to production in the last year had adopted DevOps across some teams (55%) or entirely across the IT organization (40%). Another 9% were in discovery phases or PoC with their DevOps implementation, leaving only a tiny fraction of respondents reporting no adoption of DevOps.

DevOps is driven by the need for faster releases, more efficient IT operations and flexibility to respond to changes in the market, whether technical such as the advent of cloud-native technologies, or other, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, one of the biggest drivers of the trend and a primary reason DevOps has become part and parcel of enterprise software development and deployment is adoption from the top-down. IT management and executive leadership are increasingly interested and involved in DevOps deployments, often because it is a critical part of cloud migration, digital transformation and other key initiatives. Most organizations also report that their DevOps implementation is managed or sanctioned by the organization, in line with the departure from shadowy IT DevOps deployments of 5 or 10 years ago toward approved deployments that meet policy, security and compliance requirements.

Another significant change in DevOps is the growing role of business objectives and outcomes. Organizations are measuring and proving their DevOps success not only using technical metrics such as quality (47%) and application performance (44%), but also business metrics such as customer satisfaction (also 44%), according to our VotE DevOps study. We also see line-of-business managers among important stakeholders in DevOps beyond developers and IT operators. The increased focus and priority on business also often translates to a different view on DevOps and IT operations in general. While IT administration has traditionally been a budget spending item with a focus on total cost of ownership (TCO), today’s enterprises are increasingly viewing DevOps and IT ops as a competitive advantage that will bring return on investment (ROI).

Another significant aspect of DevOps today is the stakeholder spread. Our surveys have consistently highlighted how security, leadership, traditional IT administrators and business/product managers play an increasingly important role in DevOps, in addition to software developers and IT operations teams. As DevOps spreads to more teams and applications within an organization, it is more likely to pull in these and other key stakeholders, including finance or compliance, among others. We also see additional people and teams, such as those in sales and marketing or human relations, becoming more integral to enterprise DevOps as the trend continues to evolve.

The prominence of security among primary DevOps stakeholders is indicative of the rapidly evolving DevSecOps trend, whereby security elements are integrated into DevOps workflows. Our data highlights how a growing number of DevOps releases include security elements, with 64% of companies indicating they do include security elements in 2020, compare to 53% in 2019. DevSecOps is being driven mainly by changing attitudes among software developers, who are increasingly less likely to think the security will slow them down and more likely to tie security to quality, which is something they care about. Software security vendors have also worked to make security tooling such as API firewalls, vulnerability scanning and software composition analysis (SCA) more integrated and automated so they really don’t slow down developers. Finally, the frequency of high-profile security incidents and breaches remind everyone of the need to reduce risk as much as possible.

Another change in DevOps is an increasing awareness and appreciation of not just technology challenges, but also cultural aspects. Our data indicates top cultural challenges of DevOps include overcoming resistance to change, competing/conflicting priorities and resources, promoting communication and demonstrating equity of benefits/costs. By aligning objectives, priorities and desired outcomes, teams can better address these cultural challenges to succeed and spread their DevOps implementations. This is also where we’ve seen cross-discipline experience – in development, in IT operations, in security, etc. – can be integral to addressing cultural issues.

If you haven’t yet begun your own DevOps Transformation, 2nd Watch takes an interesting approach you can consider. Their DevOps Transformation process begins with a complete assessment and strategy measuring your current software development and operational maturity, using the CALMS model, and developing a strategy for where and how to apply DevOps approaches

Jay Lyman, Senior Research Analyst, Cloud Native and Applied Infrastructure & DevOps at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence

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