Friday, November 20, 2015

Survey says: Who owns DevOps strategy?

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I’ve previously written about the overall results from IDC’s “DevOps, Open Source and Business Agility: Lessons Learned from Early Adopters” InfoBrief study sponsored by Red Hat. I encourage you to take a look as there’s a lot of interesting data about enabling technologies, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), open source, and desired software support models.[1] This post though dives into a specific result that ended up on the cutting room floor when the final InfoBrief was edited.

"Of the following stakeholder groups, which has the primary responsibility for driving your organization's DevOps strategy?"

The plurality but not the majority (38 percent) said that traditional application development teams had the responsibility. Other common answers included traditional IT operations teams (19 percent), dedicated DevOps teams (17 percent), and corporate C-level executive teams (13 percent).

I don’t find those overall numbers particularly surprising. DevOps tends to be thought of as being more about accelerating application development and release cycles than streamlining infrastructure operations.[2] So it’s pretty natural that devs would be seen as driving an initiative that most directly impacts them. (That said, in another survey question, 47 percent said that IT operations staff efficiency/productivity improvement was a primary DevOps goal so there are absolutely both dev and ops benefits.)

I might have expected to see more dedicated DevOps organizations driving strategy, at least in today’s early going. [3] However, our internal experience at Red Hat is that dedicated organizations can end up operating independently of the existing IT organization—making it hard to tie into existing apps and infrastructure. Therefore, I find the fact that early adopters are mostly viewing DevOps as something to be driven as part of mainstream IT rather than as an off-to-the-side project a good thing.

Slice the data based on how app devs answered and how IT ops answered though and things get interesting (if still not wholly unexpected).

It’s apparently quite obvious to your average developer who is or ought to be running the DevOps show. They should (76 percent) with another 10 percent allowing for the possibility of a dedicated organization driving the strategy. A mere 3 percent have IT ops driving things.

How did IT Ops answer? Well, they’re even more certain than devs that their counterparts shouldn’t be running DevOps with only 2 percent saying that traditional application development organizations have the primary responsibility for driving DevOps strategy. Beyond that near-unanimity though, they’re pretty divided. Only 34 percent said the traditional IT operations team should be in charge. Other responses were split between a dedicated team (24 percent), a corporate C-level executive team (21 percent), line of business decision makers (7 percent), or even a service provider like a system integrator (9 percent).

Pretty much anyone except their own developers I guess.

[1] Survey respondents were 220 IT decision makers in the US and UK who were either currently using DevOps in production or evaluating/testing DevOps.

[2] I’d argue that this dev-centric view isn’t the best way to think about DevOps, but it’s common.

[3] Note, however, that this question was specifically about who is driving or will drive strategy. A materially higher number (35 percent) have or plan to have a dedicated DevOps organization. That organization apparently just won’t drive strategy in many cases.

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