Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen DevOps go from an idea to a movement. The promise of DevOps – breaking down the siloes between development and operations to achieve faster software delivery and improved reliability – is now a reality for thousands of organizations.

While Atlassian has had a front-row seat to this shift, we wanted to know more about the state of DevOps today. In February of this year, we conducted a survey of 500 professionals to gauge their success in bringing DevOps to their organization, including the barriers they faced, and the impact of tools and culture on their work. 

We identified three major trends in the results, with one primary theme. The path to DevOps is a matter of when, not if, but there are still obstacles along the way.

Trend #1: DevOps is now a corporate term

Similar to how agile started as a buzzy trend in the early 2000s and evolved into a universal way of working, DevOps is now mainstream. Our research shows that 54 percent of respondents belong to companies that have practiced DevOps for more than three years. 

And just like how agile helps organizations respond to changing markets, DevOps helps companies stay competitive as software eats the world. Respondents universally said that DevOps has positively impacted their business, with higher quality deliverables as the largest benefit. Forty-nine percent of respondents saw a faster time to market and improvement to deployment frequency as part of their shift to DevOps.

DevOps also fulfills its promise of breaking down siloes and facilitating greater collaboration.

Nearly half of the respondents revealed an increase in collaboration with non-technical teams after they embraced DevOps practices.

To us, that’s a clear sign that DevOps teams need the right tools and practices in place to collaborate beyond engineering. 

Trend #2: DevOps implementations can be challenging

More than 80 percent of our survey respondents faced barriers in their DevOps efforts, which included everything from legacy infrastructure to corporate culture. It is especially challenging for DevOps practitioners – a group including developers, IT operations, and site reliability engineering (SRE) – who are often responsible for implementing both tools and practices.

For something that seems simple, like checking the status of a project, 65 percent said they needed to consult three or more tools. Still, three-quarters of our respondents prefer to use best-of-breed tools for their development work.

Our take?

The problem isn’t the number of tools. It’s that tools, as well as the people using them, aren’t talking to one another.

DevOps is now a legitimate practice, with two out of three organizations having defined teams or job descriptions with “DevOps” in the title. However, simply relabeling a team as “DevOps” or adding more tools without adopting new ways of working is a known anti-pattern.

Beyond tools and titles, DevOps practitioners are also being asked to build their skill sets. Seventy-eight percent of respondents needed to learn new skills as a result of their organization’s movement towards DevOps, meaning knowledge around core-competencies like CI/CD, Git, and agile is critical.

Trend #3: DevOps execs and practitioners don’t see eye-to-eye

There’s often a missing link between the DevOps aspiration and reality of implementation. Nearly half of DevOps practitioners say they are unsure how to actually improve their organization’s DevOps practices. 

We found that practitioners place the greatest emphasis on building a strong collaboration culture in their journey towards DevOps. Decision-makers, on the other hand, are more likely to value individual capabilities. This group rated a forward-thinking mindset that values agility and velocity as the key for DevOps success, rather than team collaboration.

Still, the gap is starting to close as organizations begin to realize what practitioners have known all along: 39 percent of all respondents stated that the right people and culture, rather than tools, are the top factor for DevOps success.

We’re hoping these insights spark a discussion in your organization and individual teams about how to better guide your DevOps journey. While there will always be new techniques to implement and tools to adopt, practitioners – how they collaborate and work – are the cornerstone of a high-performing DevOps organization. 

What’s the foundation of DevOps success? 500 professionals gave us their take