The Cloud And DevOps: The Perfect Marriage

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If you have been in the business of technology for any amount of time, you know that whenever there is a promising technology trend, companies are eager to exploit it for their own gain. This is not as cynical as it first may sound. Of course, when a new trend arises, it only makes sense to develop products and business plans that align with the shifting market.

An interesting side effect of companies coalescing behind technology trends is that it tends to result in a lot of research around these technologies. Both technology vendors and industry analysts fund research projects to understand the impact of these technologies on both the market and their businesses.

Research Overload

In recent times, cloud computing and DevOps have each benefited from being the subject of numerous market research projects. In the DevOps realm, the 2017 State of DevOps Report (published by DORA and Puppet Labs) findings included the benefits high-performing DevOps organizations see, the value of automation, and the fact that DevOps is not limited to any one industry or organizational construct.

Other research, such as that conducted by Coleman Parkes (commissioned by CA Technologies), showed the value that comes from combining agile software development methodologies with DevOps. For the record, those companies that combined the two showed a 41% increase in operational efficiency and a 63% better chance at bringing in new business.

The cloud has similarly been well-researched. Cisco’s Global Cloud Index provides an annual update on the growth of the cloud and the traffic it generates. RightScale also produces an excellent annual State of the Cloud Report, with the most recent study reporting that fully 58% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.

However, despite the overabundance of research on these two topics, gaps remain. The existing research has focused on one or the other. Yet many organizations are using both cloud and DevOps together. Both emerged and matured at roughly the same time, so is it really possible to separate the value of one from the other? How intertwined are the two technologies?

Consider two of the early poster children of DevOps. Spotify’s approach to a DevOps culture has been well-documented and replicated frequently with its concepts of Guilds, Tribes, Squads and Chapters. It’s been a shining example of how to reshape culture around collaboration, trust and community — all fundamental to DevOps.

Netflix has also been held up as a DevOps luminary, with one of the most prominent examples of its innovation being the notion of a Chaos Monkey, which later evolved into a full-on Simian Army. The Chaos Monkey and the rest of the soldiers in the Simian Army are designed to randomly introduce various kinds of failures or unusual conditions (hence the chaos) and test Netflix’s ability to withstand or recover from them.

This continuous testing practice is also a key component of successful DevOps because it results in greater alignment between the development and operations teams (while also improving quality and user experience).

Is it a surprise that both of these DevOps all-stars are also outstanding examples of how to effectively use the cloud? Spotify, of course, is reshaping the music industry with its cloud-based personalized delivery model for listening to songs. And everyone is familiar with Netflix’s transformation from a mail-order DVD rental company to the preeminent streaming video provider.

The combination of DevOps and the cloud seems to have worked well for these two companies. What about the rest of the world?

Everyone Else: New Research

CA commissioned FreeForm Dynamics, a leading analyst and research firm, to conduct a study to find the answer to this question. By surveying approximately 1,000 IT professionals around the world, the research aimed to see if the average enterprise could also see benefits from using both the cloud and DevOps together.

First, the respondents were asked to rank the maturity of their organization’s usage of both technologies. As illustrated in the figure below, the respondents were grouped into one of four categories:

  • Slow Movers were the 48% of the sample who were not considered to be advanced users of either. This doesn’t mean they aren’t using the cloud or DevOps — it’s just that they are not as far along in the maturity cycle as others.
  • DevOps Devotees and Cloud Champions were the groups that used one technology extensively but not the other. This broke out into 15% and 17% of the sample, respectively.
  • Delivery Disrupters was the name given to the 18% of organizations that reported to be advanced users of both DevOps and the cloud.

The study then evaluated respondents based on their overall software delivery performance. This overall software delivery performance metric is actually a consolidation of five individual metrics related to software delivery: speed, quality, predictability, user experience and cost control.

Depending on your perspective, it may or not be surprising to learn that the Delivery Disrupters — those who use both the cloud and DevOps at an advanced level — saw the most improvement in both overall software delivery performance and in the individual metrics. For example, overall software delivery performance was increased by 81%, compared to just 52% and 53% for DevOps Devotees and Cloud Champions.

Suffice it to say, the research is in: The cloud and DevOps are better together. And you don’t have to be a Netflix or a Spotify to get the benefit. This new data shows that companies of all sizes, and from all geographies, are recognizing the benefits that come from combining two of the industry’s most talked-about technologies.


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