Developers See ROI For Continuous Delivery Via Cloud

Developers find the pay-off for DevOps and continuous delivery comes with cloud, Evans Data survey says.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

December 10, 2014

4 Min Read

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Past surveys of programmers by Evans Data have revealed increasing use of such languages as Python and Node.js or shown how the use of in-memory databases was growing rapidly. Its most recent North American survey shows a high level of awareness among developers of both DevOps and continuous delivery of new code.

It also shows a high degree of awareness that DevOps and continuous delivery are most likely to occur with the help of cloud-based tools or when operating in cloud infrastructure. Seventy-seven percent said their continuous delivery effort was executed either primarily or entirely through the cloud, while 18.8% said it was primarily done through on-premises infrastructure.

Continuous delivery is a process where new code, after function tests, is automatically tested for the environment in which it is to be run and then uploaded into a production system. The automated testing is thorough enough to ensure the code won't break the production system. The process allows frequent, small updates to website e-commerce systems and mobile apps that may need to change frequently in response to business needs.

The Evans Data survey was conducted earlier this fall, and the report was issued Dec. 8. It only raised the continuous delivery question with those developers who had previously indicated they were involved in using DevOps, where the barriers between the development team and operations team are removed and processes put in place for the two to communicate directly.

[Want to learn more about how experts see continuous delivery? See Where Agile Development Fails: IT Operations.]

Both continuous integration and continuous delivery, two related steps in DevOps, have been at the forefront of the discussion as agile programming takes hold in enterprise IT staffs. The ability to produce, then change, production application code rapidly led to collisions with IT operations as they sought to maintain the stability of their environments. Continuous delivery is a kind of follow-on movement to agile programming, seeking to not lose its advantage of speed and business user feedback in the operational updates that must follow.

There's been no requirement of cloud infrastructure or cloud services for DevOps to take place. But this release of the second 2014 North American survey emphasizes how cloud computing, DevOps, and continuous delivery are beginning to be viewed as parts of a related whole.

Of the respondents in the survey who had previously indicated involvement with DevOps, 25.5% said their continuous delivery implementations were completely cloud-based, while 51.5% said they rely on continuous delivery tools that are in the cloud. Almost 19% said they are doing continuous delivery primarily on-premises, while 4.2% said they used it entirely on-premises. Evans Data said that last finding was based on too small a sample to be considered statistically significant.

The report, titled "North American Development, Volume II, 2014," found 80% of respondents believe that DevOps is important to their organizations; 6% said it was not important. By a similar margin, 86% said continuous delivery was important.

Half of those previously involved in DevOps said they were currently working under a continuous delivery model. A majority of those who were not said their organizations are planning to adopt a continuous delivery process.

About 65% reported various degrees of engagement with other facets of DevOps. They typically worked for midsized companies with 100 to 1,000 employees. Some 22% said they had no plans to implement DevOps; the executive summary of the report did not characterize the 22%.

Developers perceived the benefit of continuous delivery to be a simpler, more rapid deployment than that offered by their previous programming experiences. They said it removed manually executed, repetitive tasks, "streamlined" bug resolution, and offered better visibility into project components across development and operational teams. As a result, developers and operational teams are perceived as the main beneficiaries. Experts in the field also say the business as a whole gains in its ability to respond to competitive challenges.

Seventy-one percent currently using the continuous delivery model use it to deliver application source code, while 62% apply continuous delivery to database management. There is a consensus among both groups that DevOps and continuous delivery must rely on source code version control and bug tracking tools and as many automated steps as possible.

The median age of developers in the survey was 37, or younger than in previous North American surveys, but not as young as developers tend to be in the Asia/Pacific region. In a similar vein, they report they have 10 years of experience in the field, a decline from previous surveys, indicating that more young developers are entering the profession. Many of the respondents had job titles indicating they are team leaders or have project management responsibilities.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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