DevOps and the Cloud: Better together

Study shows clear synergies between Cloud and DevOps.

It seems like common sense that DevOps and the Cloud would work well together, but is it true? At the same time, how much pressure is there on software delivery professionals to up their game – and how much scope do they still have to do that? Those were some of the overarching questions we had in mind when we surveyed over 900 IT and software professionals earlier this year, and it turns out the answers are: Yes indeed, rather a lot, and a surprising amount.

What we saw in our survey was a picture of a software delivery industry that is feeling the pressure like never before. Driven both by the need to make internal processes more efficient and by competitive threats from rivals old and new, they are responding by using digital technology to change how they work and streamline their processes. Two of the key trends that can help here are of course DevOps and more use of the Cloud – whether public, private or hybrid – both for hosting and as a source of tools.

Intertwined with the competitive threats is a much greater reliance on software by the business, and considerable evolution in software requirements. In particular, the demands have become more diverse and fast-moving. For example, the majority of our survey respondents said their organization has apps that must scale up rapidly, be refreshed frequently, support mobile or IoT devices, deliver web-scale performance, or some combination thereof.

For some, the first step is to adopt DevOps practices, for others it is to use more Cloud-based services. However, while almost all of the organizations that were surveyed are using DevOps and/or Cloud to some extent, the depth and breadth of their usage varies considerably. In each case we could identify around one-third who we regard as being extensively committed to that approach, with a considerable overlap between these two camps. Just under half the sample used Cloud and DevOps in a more piecemeal way or not at all.

This gave us four interesting constituencies, three of them very similar sizes, but could we use them to see how the interaction between our Cloud Champions and DevOps Devotees played out? Fortunately, as well as asking how committed each organization was to the use of DevOps and Cloud, the survey also asked how they were performing on five software delivery imperatives:

  • Speed: more frequent delivery of software to production
  • Predictability: making promised delivery dates more predictable, reliable and transparent
  • Quality: improving the quality of the software and reducing the number of defects
  • UX and CX: improving the user and customer experience with the delivered software
  • Cost control: reducing the cost of software projects

Used as key performance indicators (KPIs), these delivery imperatives show how software delivery organizations are meeting the demands placed upon them by this new faster moving and more competitive business environment. And they make it quite clear: extensive use of either DevOps or Cloud can bring significant and worthwhile advantage – our survey showed committed users reported 52% and 53% better performance than the baseline group (Slower Movers), respectively. But those advantages are synergistic, so using both together is noticeably better still, with an 81% uplift over the Slower Movers. Integrated adoption of DevOps and Cloud is therefore the fast track to software success.

That’s not all, though. We went further, breaking out the KPIs and comparing the DevOps Devotees with the Slower Movers, which enabled us to see where DevOps has driven the most benefit: speed of delivery and cost control. The latter is especially important given how relatively poorly software organizations perform on cost control overall.

Similarly, Cloud Champions drive worthwhile benefit on every KPI, but speed and cost control are again the biggest winners. This is because both Cloud and DevOps are ways to reduce friction in the delivery process, and the KPIs where friction has the greatest effect are speed and cost.

The synergy between the two is clear – organizations making extensive use of only one are missing out. DevOps in particular adds a lot of flexibility, but you need to carry that downstream, and this is where Cloud comes in.

Have we reached maximum benefit here? Absolutely not! Even as all our Cloud and DevOps practitioners were reporting significant boosts in their software delivery processes, they also made it clear that there was still plenty of scope for improvement, for example in areas such as automating software development and testing, and monitoring the production environment.

Much of that is likely to come from wider and more complete integration – as mentioned above, it is not just a case of throwing the two together. Both Cloud and DevOps are works in progress, and your activity there is most probably fragmented. You have to be more organized, to get a handle on your activity, and to pull in the right management and other tools. Most importantly, do you really understand where you are today with Cloud and DevOps? Are you honest with yourself or overestimating your commitment? You really need to know!


Blog by Bryan Betts, Freeform Dynamics Ltd,

This blog was written by an external contributor. Any views held herein are not representative of CA Technologies, and are intended for informational purposes only.

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