Software Engineering

Survey Finds DevOps Automation Delivers Gains But Companies Lack Clear Strategy

DevOps automation is delivering major improvements in software quality, deployment failures, and costs.
Published on
October 2, 2023

A new global survey from Dynatrace reveals that while DevOps automation is delivering major benefits like improved software quality and reduced costs, most organizations still lack a clear strategy for implementing it.

The extensive research, which surveyed 450 IT professionals at large companies worldwide, found that DevOps automation has helped cut deployment failures by 57% and IT costs by 55% on average. It has also led to a 61% boost in software quality at respondent organizations.

"As more organizations embrace cloud-native software delivery, DevOps automation has evolved to become a strategic imperative," said Bernd Greifeneder, Chief Technology Officer at Dynatrace.

However, only 38% of respondents said their company has a well-defined DevOps automation strategy. On average, organizations have automated just 56% of their end-to-end DevOps lifecycle so far, leaving significant room for additional gains.

According to Saif Gunja of Dynatrace, the survey makes clear that automation is still being applied to isolated workflows rather than centrally managed across organizations. This is changing as more companies embrace platform engineering approaches to manage DevOps at scale.

The automation put in place so far is often too brittle to effectively scale beyond small DevOps teams, Gunja noted. Toolchain complexity is a key factor, with organizations relying on 7.5 different automation tools on average.

Smaller organizations are at an earlier stage of DevOps automation maturity according to the research. They have automated a lower percentage of the end-to-end process, require more frequent manual interventions to complete tasks, and take over twice as long as larger companies to fix problems in production applications.

Top barriers holding organizations back include security concerns, legacy system complexity, data silos, team silos, and cultural resistance to new tools and processes. On top of that, lack of expertise and resources are still significant barriers as well, with skill shortages in key areas like cloud platforms, automated testing, deployment, GitOps, and open source tools.

71% of respondents reported using observability data to guide automation decisions and workflow improvements. However, 85% face challenges tapping into this data effectively. Solutions that break down data silos will be key to empowering precise, confident automation across organizations.

"Data-driven automation is the key to unlocking innovation and meeting customer expectations in the cloud-native era," said Greifeneder.

Many organizations adopting DevOps aim to balance developers owning the services they create with reducing overall developer toil. Survey results showed developers spend just a quarter of their time writing code, so there is a pressing need to reduce their day-to-day workload.

Platform engineering approaches, greater use of GitOps workflows, and developing an internal automation Center of Excellence can help drive more mature, scalable practices according to the report.

Additionally, advancing AI capabilities like predictive analytics, causal insights, and generative models will be vital to taking DevOps automation to the next level. 59% of respondents said large language models such as ChatGPT and Bard will have a significant impact on their automation efforts.

The extensive Dynatrace report provides a detailed analysis of the current automation landscape and strategies organizations are pursuing to advance maturity. However, it remains unclear whether centralized IT or developers themselves will drive increasing DevOps automation.

The full findings are available for download online. Organizations can also take Dynatrace's DevOps automation assessment to gauge their current maturity level.

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