22 Jul 2021
The business value of DevOps
Nowadays the term “DevOps” is extremely hyped, often being described as a solution to multiple problems, that allow high-performing companies to leverage their competitive advantages in technology-based businesses. However apart from its popularity among tech professionals, what’s the real business value that you might get from introducing its practices? Is it only a fancy toolset that people crave just to keep up with technical innovations or its only goal is to make developers’ lives easier? Well, the answer to both these questions is no – DevOps popularity didn’t come out of nowhere, and its effective implementation and regular improvements will be followed by lots of measurable business value. Keep reading to find how DevOps helps companies all over the world grow.
DevOps = Development & Operations
Before we move to the DevOps business value, let’s quickly clarify what hides under this term. As the subheading suggests the name came from combining development and operations and probably some of you associate it with the automation of several steps of the software development lifecycle. While that’s true, automation is only a part of DevOps. Amazon describes it as “the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes”. So as Kuba Zięba, one of our DevOps specialists, often says it’s a cultural and technical bridge between software development and infrastructure operation meant to accelerate the work and, what’s equally important, ensure the stability of the system you work on.
Therefore, you should remember that introducing DevOps is more than the implementation of several fancy tools, it’s also a shift in operational culture, and if you want to obtain all the DevOps benefits you should keep in mind both these elements. Let’s refer to Kuba’s words once again since he came up with a perfect metaphor to illustrate this matter – “Introducing DevOps is like making a milkshake – to make it a really tasty and nutritious snack you need to choose the right ratio of ingredients. And it’s the same with DevOps implementation. If you focus too much on the technical part and automation you might end up with a super healthy milkshake, that would be tasteless and no one in your company will like it. At the same time, if you will just keep telling your team to change their ways of working accordingly to DevOps culture and the sky is the limit, you will end up with a combination of milk and sugar – too sweet and pointless.”
Since this text does not focus on effective DevOps implementation (we have such an article on our roadmap, so make sure to come back here every once in a while), this short introduction should be more than enough to smoothly move to the main parts – what’s the real business value of DevOps implementation and why you should invest in this toolset and change in approach to software development.
Well, after the short introduction no one should be surprised we are going to start proving DevOps value with an increase in development speed. Currently, the ability to rapidly provide your Clients with what they need is one of the biggest competitive advantages a company might have. Well-implemented DevOps practices unquestionably help to accelerate your development regardless of wheatear you’re working on a completely new product from scratch to fill a hole in the market or you’re expanding an existing solution to provide additional features that would help end-users solve their problems. But you don’t have to, nor should you, take our words for granted, therefore we’re going to support this statement with some studies.
In the State of DevOps 2019 report created by DORA, we can find that Elite IT Performers (companies that benefit the most from superior software delivery) are able to deploy on-demand, even multiple times a day, while Low IT Performers (companies that “have the most opportunities for improvement by addressing low hanging fruit) deploy from once per month to once every six months.
But that’s not all of it, using the same report we can also compare the lead time for changes (the amount of time needed to go from code commit to code successfully running in production). Among Elite Performers, the lead time was estimated to be around 1 hour, while for the low performers’ researchers discovered the time necessary to be between 1-6 months. To give you an even better look, we can recall not only extreme groups of respondents but also those in between, since the questioned companies were categorized into 4 groups, depending on the effectiveness of their delivery. The lead time for High IT Performers was 1 day to 1 week, and for Medium IT Performers – 1 week to 1 month.
We’re positive that you all know the value of quick delivery and the possibility to rapidly adapt to changing environment. These numbers perfectly illustrate that the investment in DevOps transformation pays back, allowing you to move much faster than those who still use old, manual practices and outdated approaches to development.
Following the definition from the first paragraph, once we covered the speed now is time to focus on the impact of DevOps on stability. Yet, before we dive deep into this subject, we want to illustrate its importance. Imagine a runner who can achieve extraordinary pace and easily get in front of the competition, but often loses stability and falls. The speed itself won’t be enough to win the race, after the fall slower competitors would be able to make up the distance and get ahead of our imaginary contestant. And it’s the same with software development. You should be able to progress fast and rapidly pivot if the market conditions change, yet all that speed should be built on solid fundaments to ensure the stability of your product/service. And DevOps implementation can help with that as well.
We can refer to the aforementioned report once again. The first performance metric related to stability examined was the “Time to restore service” (described as the time needed to restore your primary app/service after an incident or defect that impacts users happens). For the Elite Performers, the Time to Restore is less than an hour, for High and Medium performers it is less than a day, and for the last group, it’s between one week and one month. For those who wonder how important that is, let’s take a look at another statistic, this time created by IDC. According to their researchers, for the Fortune1000 companies, the average total costs of unplanned application downtime per year is 1,25 billion US to 2,5billion US, and the average hourly cost of an infrastructure failure is circa 100,000US. So even if at first you thought that the difference between 1 hour and 1 day is not so significant, having these numbers in the back of your head should show that each minute matter.
Another value compared by DORA in their report had been the Change Failure Rate (the researchers asked what percentage of changes to production/released to user result in degraded service and thus require immediate remediation like hotfix, rollback, fix forward, or a patch). Among Elite, High and Medium Performers the change failure rate was between 0-15%, and for the Low Performers, it was 46-60%. As we can deduct from this result, implementation of even basic DevOps practices (the so-called low hanging fruit) allows to highly increase the stability, and as result maintain the level of satisfaction from your product as high as possible.
Other DevOps benefits
We could go on and on about the two main DevOps benefits, but the evoked statistics should be more than enough to convince anyone that investment in related tools and practices would pay off so let’s look a little bit further. While speed and stability are the most important advantages company can get out of DevOps introduction, it can positively influence other operational areas as well. We can start with improvements within the area of security.
According to the State of DevOps 2020 (this report is named almost the same as the previously mentioned, yet this one was created by Puppet), more and more companies start integrating security in the software development lifecycle with good results. As authors found out, companies with low security integration can remedy around 25% of vulnerabilities within one day, while the percentage growth to around 45% among companies with full security integration.
What’s more DevOps implementation helps to increase collaboration across different teams and departments including non-technical departments according to the DevOps Trends study created by Atlassian. This as results boost the effectiveness of work, and positively impact the final product. If you want to learn more about the importance of collaboration across departments check PM Confession #1 in which we wrote about establishing such cooperation and its impact on the work!
Last but not least – employee satisfaction. Nowadays hiring an experienced specialist is extremely hard, so retaining them is best what companies can do. We even wrote a whole article on this, but now let’s focus on the impact of DevOps implementation on employees only. Researchers found that improving DevOps practices boost employee satisfaction, and people working in high-performing teams were 2.2x more likely to recommend their organizations as a great place to work.
To DevOps or not to DevOps
We won’t beat around the bush – we didn’t list all the potential benefits of DevOps implementation, but to completely cover this matter we would have to provide you with a thick book rather than a short blog article. Yet, we’re positive that what you had read above address the most important elements for those who wonder if is worth undergoing DevOps transformation, and is more than enough to convince anyone the question you should be asking is not “should we start” but “how fast can we start”. Yet if you want to dive deeper into this matter, or simply discuss your particular situation – we’re more than happy to help, simply fill the contact form below and we would gladly share our experience to help you find the best solution.