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Why management thinks your DevOps implementation is great

Tech choices and testing are hard in DevOps, according to GitLab's 2018 Global Developer Report. But it turns out DevOps makes management happy. Here's why.

According to a survey of 5,296 development professionals, the three toughest challenges around DevOps implementation probably won't surprise anyone. GitLab's 2018 Global Developer Report indicates it's still hard to choose the right technology, get clear directions from management and change long-standing habits.

But what might surprise folks is the apparent disconnect between management and developers on what a successful DevOps implementation looks like -- and how easy it is, or isn't.

"I was surprised to see that managers and developers had different expectations of how DevOps is helping them," said Ashish Kuthiala, director of product marketing at GitLab.

In the survey, 81% of managers said DevOps was saving the company time, while only 65% of developers agreed. Managers are also overly optimistic about things like code deployment -- 47% said their organizations can deploy code on demand or several times a day, but just 35% of developers agreed.

This perception gap around DevOps implementation is real. "This is a good eye-opener," Kuthiala explained. "Managers are focused on saving time and things getting better, but developers see the day-to-day challenges and that they're still in silos and that needs to change. In a lot of companies, code is still being passed from one team to another."

DevOps vs. chaos

According to the report, 69% described their development process as Agile, while 23% said DevOps, and 16% used waterfall. What about those who described their process as "other?" Well, "chaos" was their go-to adjective for explanation.

In a lot of companies, code is still being passed from one team to another.
Ashish Kuthialadirector of product marketing, GitLab

But let's get specific. What's the biggest DevOps implementation hurdle to overcome? A 39% majority went with choice of technology, followed by concerns about integration and poor internal processes.

In some ways, it's almost a case where there are too many tool choices, Kuthiala said. "Developers are spending a lot of time focused on getting the tools they have to actually work," he said. "It's kind of a badge of honor for them, but it takes away from valuable time spent coding."

Developers named their top three tools as a version control system, an integrated development environment and a chat or collaboration tool.

Tracking DevOps high performance

As in most DevOps surveys, over half of respondents (52%) named testing the biggest development bottleneck, followed by planning (47%), deploying to production (31%) and code review (30%). 

Despite these DevOps implementation roadblocks, the biggest takeaway for Kuthiala is the benefit of just doing it. The survey showed "high-performing" DevOps teams not only have more success in every area, but the success makes teams more confident in their Agile efforts.

"High-performing teams pay a lot of attention to one single small change and making sure that it works," he said. "That gets their confidence up, and that's not something you see with lower-performing teams."

His advice: "It's a journey and you're not going to know if it works or not until you get started. Get it started, get going, learn from it, fail fast and keep improving. You don't have to take organizations and break them up into DevOps teams. Just pilot out projects and see if DevOps works for you."

This was last published in May 2018

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