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Wednesday, 29 July 2015 13:34

DevOps early adopters say open source and PaaS are key

Posted By  Gordon Haff

Red Hat’s Gordon Haff looks at what we’ve learned from the early adopters of DevOps and explains how that can be applied to your business


With DevOps approaches being used to create and run software across an increasingly broad spectrum of organisations, we’re now at the point where we can gain quantitative insights from early adopters about DevOps adoption that go beyond a handful of oft-referenced Web-scale anecdotes. These insights, garnered from an IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Red Hat, DevOps, Open Source and Business Agility (June 2015) include open source as a top priority enabler, a wide range of benefits from using PaaS, and significantly faster software release cycles.

The majority (82%) of the 220 US and European-based IT decision makers surveyed identified open source as a critical or significant enabler of their DevOps strategy. Open source use spanned a variety of technologies including operating systems such as Linux, cloud infrastructure, platform-as-a-service, provisioning, and infrastructure monitoring. Open source benefits for both IT operations and developer team productivity/agility were cited as benefits of open source as were access to innovation and ease of customisation.

At the same time, these early adopters strongly (46%) preferred to use vendor-supported editions of open source software. Indeed, only 12% said that their preferred strategy was to download software from free open source community sites and integrate on their own or with help from service providers.

Many discussions of DevOps talk to the cultural changes required to improve collaboration and increase transparency. However, this survey points to the changes in tooling expected as well. The majority (93%) of the respondents believed that new enabling technologies are required for DevOps success with 85% planning to deploy these technologies onto either on-premise infrastructure (49%) or dedicated infrastructure at a co-location, hosting, or outsourcing site (36%).

Prominent among the new technologies was Platform-as-a-Service, with 80% expecting PaaS to have a critical role in their DevOps initiatives. Among the cited benefits of using PaaS were improved developer and IT operations collaboration (46%), more stable and reliable development environments (40%), greater standardisation of development environments (37%), development speed (36%), and faster access to open source community-driven innovation (34%). According to the Infobrief: “Platform-as-a-service integrates cloud infrastructure, self-service developer platform and tools, and lifecycle management with DevOps processes--speeding time to value for both developers and operations.”

With respect to both PaaS and DevOps more broadly, the impact is seen primarily in terms of growth metrics rather than cutting costs. In IDC’s words, “customer facing benefits lead the way” with increased customer satisfaction and engagement (49%), increased employee productivity (46%), and increased company revenues (45%) the top three responses to the question “By the end of 2017, what impact do you expect DevOps to have on the overall performance of the business?” Reduction of operational expenses gets mentioned as well (44%), but it’s not the main motivation.

The expected impact of DevOps on software release cycles is especially notable--specifically an 10x average expected increase in the total number of annual code releases with an average of 30% of development projects enabled by

DevOps by 2017. The pace may still not be at the level of an Amazon Web Services or a Facebook but it’s still a shift from the majority (63%) pushing out two or fewer releases annually per application today to 69% having quarterly or monthly releases. At the same time, it’s worth noting that it will be important to enable data sharing and other connections between these new developments and existing applications. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of DevOps projects will need to integrate with legacy systems according to the survey.

This survey primarily focused on key technologies and technology enablers related to DevOps. However, in DevOps, tools are tightly coupled to process and culture. Agile methodologies (43%), implementing common monitoring across dev and ops (43%), and broadly enabling self-service (38%) were all seen as organisational responses to a DevOps strategy. Indeed, the open source aspect plays into DevOps in a broader way than its use in popular DevOps tooling. That’s because DevOps mirrors central aspects of open source as an approach to developing software in areas such as collaboration, transparency, and working across distributed teams. DevOps uses open source but it also embodies the open source way of developing innovative software.

About the Author

Gordon Haff works in Red Hat’s Cloud Product Strategy group and is a frequent speaker at industry events and is the author of Computing Next: How the Cloud Opens the Future along with numerous other publications.  Prior to Red Hat Gordon worked as an industry analyst, and while at Data General was responsible for marketing minicomputers to large UNIX servers.

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