In theory, DevOps is good for every business. But if there's one thing I've learned from talking to people in the DevOps community, it's that theory doesn't always translate perfectly to reality. Theory is an advertisement; reality is a data set. That's why UpGuard partnered with Microsoft to sponsor a DevOps study from Saugatuck Technology.
It's not surprising, then, that when Saugatuck polled IT Leaders, Implementers, and Developers they found that "DevOps" had different meanings for each. Not only did each group hope to achieve different goals, they also rated the success of existing DevOps initiatives at their companies differently. DevOps as a goal is good for everyone, but the particular practices and technologies are more or less beneficial depending on the environment where they are introduced.
Another variable in the DevOps adoption cycle is the size of the company. Given that DevOps is a new phenomenon, and that new processes and technologies are easiest to implement when a company is still being built, we might expect to find DevOps interest and success firmly rooted in startups and small to medium-sized businesses. The focus on new technologies in DevOps blogs and talks—ones that are difficult to implement in legacy environments—might also give the impression that DevOps is mostly for new companies that have a high degree of freedom.
One of the surprises of the Saugatuck study was the level of DevOps interest, adoption, and success from large business and enterprises. The interest in DevOps makes sense; in fact, DevOps makes the most sense for enterprises, who have the most complicated environments and the highest number of points of failure in moving from development to production. The synchronization of Development and Operations, which can be taken for granted by small companies, addresses inefficiencies that grow with scale.
Companies with 1,000-4,999 employees reported significantly greater success adopting DevOps People, Proceses, and Culture than those with <1,000 employees or >5,000. Overall success was similar across all segments: approximately 20% of all polled said they've been "Very Successful" or "Extremely Successful" at adopting DevOps principles. But while the smaller companies had success rates of 15%, 20%, and 18% with People, Process, and Culture, respectively, those same numbers were 20%, 23%, and 24% for large businesses.
Why has DevOps been successful in relatively large companies? On one hand, the bureaucracy that emerges at scale can make it hard to introduce new ideas. On the other, mature processes makes it easier to propagate processes once they have been approved. While technological solutions are useful and faster to get running than cultural changes, the investments larger companies are making now will pay the largest dividends in the long run.
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