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2018 State of DevOps Report: Practical guidance for your DevOps evolution

When I launched the first State of DevOps survey in 2012, DevOps was widely regarded as just another buzzword that the cool kids were excited about — but that no one, aside from a few web scale companies, was actually doing. We were constantly hearing that DevOps would be dead in a year and replaced by the next buzzword. Now here we are, publishing our seventh annual State of DevOps Report, and DevOps is not only not dead — it’s thriving.

Puppet was an early advocate of the DevOps movement and has remained a leader in the space. Our founding principle — to make the lives of sysadmins better — was one of the key drivers for the DevOps movement (and not at all coincidentally, is a big reason why we’re so beloved by our users).

A lot of what we talked about in the early days of DevOps was not the technology, but the people. The most important themes for us have always been empowering teams to do their best work, overcoming the cultural divide between dev and ops teams, and making IT better for everyone. We've observed over the years that organizations working from these core principles can align their technology with their goals and missions, and deliver better software faster — all while giving their employees a better environment for development and growth.

Over the past seven years, we have built the deepest and most widely referenced body of DevOps research available, drawing on the experience of more than 30,000 technical professionals around the world. Our first report changed our understanding of what drives IT performance, and showed that the traditional view of IT as a cost center was misguided. IT can (and should) be a powerful driver of value in a world where speed, agility, security and stability are absolute necessities for business success.

Puppet has gained a unique vantage point on DevOps progress from helping thousands of organizations worldwide adopt DevOps practices. While we’ve seen lots of progress, the No. 1 question we still get asked is, “How do we get started with DevOps?” And right after that, “How do we scale our DevOps success more broadly across the business?” Ironically, most of the people who ask these questions work in organizations that have been on a DevOps path for many years (it’s not unusual for us to talk to organizations that have been at it for 8 or 9 years) — but they still feel like they’re at the beginning of their journey, grappling with what to do next, and how.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are enough teams succeeding with DevOps principles and practices to demonstrate it can be done, reliably and repeatably. So as we started planning our 2018 DevOps survey and report, we decided it was time to answer the two big questions — how to get started, and what to do next — with pragmatic, prescriptive guidance based on real-world experience, backed by carefully gathered and analyzed data.

Our goal for this year’s report is to help organizations that are feeling stuck or struggling to get started by providing a clear roadmap to success. It won’t happen overnight, but sure as the sun rises, it shouldn’t take another eight years.

Here’s a peek at some of the things we’re most excited about in the 2018 State of DevOps report.

  • We were able to validate our key hypotheses about how and why DevOps transformations succeed.

    • Based on anecdotal evidence, the authors of this year’s report believed that most successful DevOps transformations follow a specific pattern: Starting with grassroots efforts, early successes and proven practices are shared with other teams. Next, the successful patterns are shared with multiple teams throughout a department, and finally, are spread to other departments. Analysis of our survey data showed that this observed pattern is true for highly evolved organizations.

    • To map the evolutionary process, we used the CAMS model as a framework, and discovered that the four pillars of DevOps — Culture, Automation, Measurement and Sharing — become more widespread and deeply embedded in an organization as it evolves and as its DevOps practices mature.

  • We have identified five distinct stages of DevOps evolution, and the critical practices at each stage that help you achieve success and progress to the next phase of your journey.

  • In addition to the five stages, we found there are five foundational practices that organizations must adopt to be successful in their DevOps evolution. Working from our research findings, we provide guidance on how to prioritize and evolve these practices to keep your momentum and gain the greatest benefits for your business.

  • To get to the highest levels of DevOps evolution, you need to expand beyond Dev and Ops. We provide practical suggestions for how to do this.

2018 State of DevOps Report authors

This year, we’re thrilled to partner with Splunk — makers of some of the best t-shirts in the industry, not to mention some pretty great software. Andi Mann, chief technology advocate at Splunk and author of Visible Ops Private Cloud and The Innovative CIO, joins us this year as a State of DevOps Report author. When Andi isn’t on a plane or speaking at tech conferences, he’s working with technology teams around the world to help them adopt and expand their DevOps practices. The depth and wealth of knowledge he brings to our research has been invaluable.

Michael Stahnke, director of engineering at Puppet, also joins us as an author this year. Prior to Puppet, Michael was doing DevOps in the enterprise before DevOps was even a thing. He’s had to deal with everything you all are dealing with as you adopt DevOps practices, and has a ton of insights to share. He also gives a killer talk, so be sure to check out his session Scaling DevOps Success Before Cynicism Takes Over at Puppetize Live in October.

Rounding out the author lineup is Nigel Kersten, vice president of engineering at Puppet. Nigel has been a key contributor to the report since its inception. Prior to Puppet, Nigel was a site reliability engineer at Google, where he pioneered DevOps practices at web scale — like Michael, before DevOps was even a thing.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the many people who have worked incredibly hard to provide this resource.

Thanks to the Splunk team — Andi Mann, Felicia Dorng and Jenni Lopez — for your partnership and support on this year’s report.

Thanks to our awesome sponsors this year: AWS, Cloudability, Cognizant, CyberArk, Diaxion, Eficode and Splunk.

Thanks to Aliza Earnshaw, our editor since 2014, for improving the way we think and write about DevOps.

Thanks to everyone at Puppet who work diligently every year to edit, design, produce and promote the State of DevOps Report: Grace Stillar, Kristina Onyon, Cheryl Bolotin, Suzame Tong, Kristina Psaris-Weis, Peter Irby, Jake Trudell, Elliot Olson, Megan Ross Farrell, Simone Van Cleve, Allison Rick, Tiffany Jennings, Meghan Marks, Gia Lyons and Dan Divens.

Last, but not least, we’d like to thank the team at DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) for their partnership on previous years’ reports. Gene Kim and Jez Humble signed on in 2012 to partner with us on our very first survey and Nicole Forsgren joined us 2014. We’re grateful for all the insights they’ve provided over the years.

We hope you find the 2018 State of DevOps Report a useful resource to get started on your DevOps journey, and to help you as your organization evolves. As always, we welcome your feedback and would love to hear your DevOps evolution stories. Please email us at devopssurvey@puppet.com.

Alanna Brown is the director of product marketing at Puppet.

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