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Findings: 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report

A DevOps Specialist’s take on the 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report.

Findings: 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report

October 26, 2021

DevelopmentOperations (or DevOps) is a field within software development based around a set of principles that makes software development more agile, resilient, and scalable. In essence, DevOps promotes using practices that prevent numerous problems that occur when multiple teams oversee the SDLC (software development lifecycle).

As a growing field, DevOps goes through new developments and trends each year. The Accelerate State of DevOps report by Google’s DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) has been documenting and quantifying many of these global changes for seven years and with data from over 32,000 professionals. Recently, DORA published its latest findings in the Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps report. Our DevOps engineers and consultants have summarized the report in this article.

Key Software Delivery Performance Metrics

DORA uses four fundamental metrics to judge software delivery and operational (SDO) performance across businesses of all sizes and types. Most notably, it helps classify businesses into four categories: Elite, High, Medium, and Low.

The survey consisted of 551 responses from IT decision-makers who are involved in cloud decisions at organizations who at least have plans to have one application or a portion of their IT environment in the cloud.

  1. Deployment frequency

    Deployment frequency (DF) tells us how quickly a team can deploy code.. It reflects a team’s ability to continuously deliver updates to the market. Low-performing teams have a DF of once a month or more, whereas elite teams have an on-demand DF. The latter deploys code 973 times more with 1,460 deploys per year compared to only 1.5 deploys of low-performing teams.

  2. Lead time for changes

    Lead time is how long a team takes to deploy a code it has committed. It also reflects how efficient your cycle time is. Elite teams are 6,570 times faster than low-performing teams. Lead time for elite teams is less than one hour, whereas it’s up to six months for low-performing teams.

  3. Change failure rate

    Change failure rate is the ratio of failed deployments to total deployments. It’s used to measure deployment efficiency. Low-performing teams are thrice as likely to have failed deployments than elite teams.

  4. Time to recovery

    As the name suggests, TTR is how long it takes the DevOps team to fix a failed deployment or service outage. Elite teams outperform low-performers by more than 6,000 percent. It takes them less than one hour to restore service.

    DevOps Report 1

    Source: 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report


Key Findings of the Report

The Accelerate State of DevOps for 2021 was developed with survey responses from over 1,200 professionals in different industries across the globe. The following is a brief explanation of the key findings:

  1. Team culture and burnout levels

    Burnout levels and team culture affect performance. The report found that work-from-home employees burn out more easily than in-office workers. Burnout also depends on how inclusive a company’s culture is. An inclusive culture is likely to reduce burnout levels by 50 percent.

  2. Using cloud improves performance

    Cloud adoption is on the rise. Evidence indicates that teams that use cloud technology are 60 percent more likely to exceed their performance targets. Most of them use public or hybrid clouds because it allows them to leverage its unique benefits to accelerate business outcomes.

    Performance also depends on how businesses implement the cloud. Elite teams who meet all NIST requirements are 3.5 times more likely to improve performance. Cloud adoption trends are given below.

  3. Elite DevOps is becoming norm

    In 2019, 56 percent of all teams were low- to medium-performing. In 2021, this category only accounts for 35 percent. Meanwhile, 66 percent of all teams are now high performing or elite, using DevOps as a tool to accelerate their business. DevOps is also gaining influence across more industries, But going mainstream also means things are getting more competitive.

    DevOps Report 2

    Source: 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report

  4. Site reliability engineering (SRE) enhances DevOps

    Site reliability engineering (SRE) treats operations like a software problem. Businesses use SRE to deploy, configure, and monitor codes, or use it to understand what features they can launch based on SLA (service-level agreements), SLI (service-level indicators), and SLO (service-level objectives). 52 percent of the respondents reported better SDO performance after using SRE.

    Modern operational practices like SRE make teams 1.4 times more efficient at software delivery and 1.8 times more likely to improve business outcomes. As a result, the 2021 report considers operational performance as the fifth metric of software delivery performance.

  5. Security drives performance

    With growing cybersecurity concerns, IT security has become an integral part of the SDLC. According to the report, teams who focused on security earlier in the SDLC produced reliable software much faster than those who implemented security later. Additionally, the former is 1.6 times more likely to exceed performance expectations. In essence, the sooner security practices are implemented, the better deliverables will be.

    DevOps Report 3

    Source: 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report

  6. Better internal documentation enhances DevOps

    Internal documentation leads to operational efficiency, but how much exactly? The report revealed that teams that practice high-quality documentation are 3.8 times more likely to implement best security, 2.5 times more likely to leverage the full potential of cloud technology, and 3.5 times more likely to pursue SRE.

    To improve internal documentation quality, businesses should document critical use cases for products and services and lay down clear guidelines for updating existing documentation. Ideally, incorporating documentation should be a part ofSDLC itself.

DevOps Elite Performers in 2021

Elite DevOps teams are set apart by the fact that they routinely meet and exceed software delivery performance metrics and are the first to implement new DevOps practices. Additionally, this year’s Accelerate State of DevOps report found that elite teams:

  • Have a 973-fold higher deployment frequency than low-performing teams

  • Have a 6,570-fold faster lead time and recovery time than low-performing teams

  • Have a 3 times lower change failure rate

Moreover, organizations that thrive on DevOps have the following features:

  • Trunk-based development

  • Continuous testing and integration

  • Open source technologies

  • Management of database changes and monitoring practices

  • Deployment automation

  • Loosely coupled architecture.

Wrapping Up

Software is not a support character anymore, it’s the backbone of every modern business and DevOps is at the forefront of software development. More importantly, it’s as much a culture and a mindset as it is a set of tools that integrate traditionally siloed teams and improve business performance.

Therefore, implementing better DevOps in your business begins with understanding how your current operations need to be aligned with future goals. Some ways to do this include: taking on an in-house specialist, taking on a consultant to better establish and guide practices, or by giving your team the tools and guidance it needs through a free DevOps workshop.

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