Arguably the most significant question facing today's loosely-defined DevOps “industry” – and even more importantly adopters of the involved methodology – is precisely where the related hype cycle ends and the real-world version of the story begins.
Like countless other transformative technology paradigms that preceded it, and surely many that will follow, the entire DevOps movement has too often fallen prey to living primarily within the domain of so-called “thought leaders”, with far too little input from practitioners actively working in the field. The result is that many observers have concluded that the so-called DevOps revolution is fueled more so by idealists spouting convenient and lofty ideals than by those people actually working on the assembly lines within the proverbial software factory.
Sure, we've all heard (ad nauseam) the stories of overnight, unfathomable transformation executed by those unicorn organizations that one need no longer cite by name. Everyone agrees that those tales serve as interesting models for what DevOps can (potentially) achieve within rare and ideal circumstances; yet, they offer limited insight to those people working within more typical conditions.
We've also begun to gain a more detailed, credible view into the real-world DevOps sausage factory produced within less starry-eyed companies through the stories of leading management officials.
All that said, many questions still abound: Where is the current state of DevOps adoption, and what are the resulting challenges and conditions, among the global masses? Beyond the unicorns and thought leaders – and certainly outside the realm of vendor marketing – how far has this journey progressed among you, the average DevOps-affected professionals?
I'm sure that the good people over at Gartner or Forrester Research have some idea of this, and many of you may already be asking those experts these very questions; but, let's face it, that well-informed intel doesn't exactly come cheap.
So, where do we go from here? How can you find out where your organization really stands, or what questions you need to consider in further advancing, or even merely beginning the DevOps transformation?
In addition to giving you an idea of just where your individual efforts stand in comparison to your peers, participating in this critical research project will also help inform the larger discussion and debate with important, real-world perspectives – those that clearly outrank anything vaguely associated with unicorns or self-serving talking heads.
Like previous iterations of the State of DevOps Survey participants will educate the larger conversation with the current, real-world pace of change related to overriding issues such as culture, velocity, quality and rate of deployment, along with the organizational impacts.
Building on those topics, however, will be even greater focus on all-important matters of cross-functional collaboration, openness to experimentation, and the notion of leveraging failure to spur even broader innovation. Other matters covered by the survey include DevOps workflow efficiency, application of software testing data, use of containers, and yes, even popular methods of automation.
Full transparency, the State of DevOps project is vendor-sponsored, which some people will likely see as a convenient form of bully pulpit useful for aligning certain flavors of solutions with report takeaways. Keep in mind, however, that the real drivers of this effort are DORA and IT Revolution, which means that the brightest, most objective minds in DevOps today (namely Nigel Kersten, Gene Kim, Jez Humble and Nicole Forsgren) will actually be the ones reading through the resulting data to distill conclusions.
Matthew Hines is Principal Product Marketing Manager, DevOps, at CA Technologies.