5 Barriers to DevOps Deployment

According to a recent State of DevOps report, teams practicing DevOps benefit from a lower change failure rate, 24 times faster recovery from failures when they do occur, and significantly less time spent on rework and security issue remediation. 

In short, DevOps helps reduce risk, improve productivity, and reduce costs. Such teams tend to be more attractive to prospective hires and result in higher retention rates than companies without such practices in place. 

So why haven’t all teams implemented these processes and procedures? Unfortunately, while the benefits are substantial, change is a challenge all by itself. A number of substantial barriers stand in the way of effective DevOps deployment, which can in turn impact security initiatives across an organization. Let’s take a closer look at five such barriers and how companies can address them.

The Current State of DevOps

In a recent webinar in partnership with 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, Principal Research Analyst Fernando Montenegro and Kelly Shortridge, Capsule8 VP of Product Management and VP of Product Strategy, discussed the reality check that comes when addressing DevOps. 

The speed of deployment is a good example. There’s an assumption in many organizations that faster isn’t just better–it’s necessary. If you’re not deploying hourly or daily, then something is wrong. In reality, while many indicate they are moving fast (with more than 35% of respondents saying they deployed weekly or faster), the vast majority deploy on a monthly or quarterly basis to production.

Q: Over the last 12 months, how often did your organization deploy most software applications to production?

Base: Organization has deployed software applications to production in the last 12 months (n=496)
Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps, 2H 2019 and Workloads & Key Projects 2020

From a security perspective, faster deployment leads to increased resiliency, and when more than half of companies are getting it done on a monthly basis, it’s a good starting point. If you are not, however, you’re not alone – challenges remain in accelerating deployment. 

The research indicates that DevOps – while impactful across organizations – doesn’t fix all your problems. While accelerating deployments has its benefits, the impact can be realized only when the deployment is successful. So what percentage of deployments are really successful?

Q. What percentage of DevOps applications are successfully released into production?

Base: All respondents (n=469)
Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps, 2H 2019

As indicated above, when asked how many deployments were actually successful, half or less indicated that deployments were making it to production successfully. 

The Challenges that Impact DevOps Deployment 

With those factors in mind, what about the implementation of DevOps into the company culture? 451’s research indicated there were a number of challenges faced across organizations in this regard. 

Q. What [are/were] the primary barriers to deploying DevOps for your organization? (Choose up to 3)

Base: All respondents (n= 496)
Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps, 2H 2019  

The most common issues were the technical complexity of such a deployment, followed by the cost of doing so, and the concerns that arose over governance, security, and compliance risks. Thirty percent or more of respondents indicated these items were challenges to successfully implementing DevOps. 

Other issues include lack of skills and training, conflicting processes that are already in place, organization and cultural resistance, the need to refactor or rewrite legacy applications, and existing processes being deemed sufficient for a company’s current needs. 

We can see in this data that DevOps practitioners care about security and it’s a key factor in the process. More than a third of companies indicate that the security team is a key stakeholder in their DevOps deployment process, alongside senior management and central IT teams. What’s holding companies back in this regard is not that the security team is disinterested in such a transition, but the need for better integration and discussion with security about DevOps deployment. 

Cultural Changes Confronting DevOps

Implementation of DevOps is a major cultural shift, and with any such transformation, there is bound to be pushback. A range of challenges is cited by companies surveyed by 451, including:

  • Overcoming resistance to change
  • Competing and conflicting priorities and resources
  • Promotion of communication between teams not accustomed to working together
  • Demonstration of equity of benefits and costs 
  • Sharing responsibility for problems

Q. What cultural challenges, if any, are or were confronting your DevOps team? Please select all that apply.

Base: Organization uses DevOps at some level (n=501)
Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps, 2H 2019 and Workloads & Key Projects 2020

Cultural change takes time. It’s a messy process and requires hard work and consistency to overcome initial resistance. To do this, leaders need to demonstrate the benefits of the change and share responsibility among the team to give individuals ownership over the new processes. Security and DevOps teams need to work better together to make deployment a reality. 

When you consider that nearly half of companies are utilizing DevOps in a segmented way, with processes managed within business units instead of with central IT, it’s no wonder so many challenges arise with culture and coordination with security. 

Addressing this friction in communication, better supporting distributed work in the organization, and clarifying roles across all silos becomes a major point of focus in these organizations. 

Overcoming Barriers to Maximize Benefits from DevOps Deployment

In addressing the issues outlined above, organizations are better positioned to benefit from their implementation of DevOps processes. But it requires a clear plan, buy-in from stakeholders, and clear communication across departments and components of the business. By addressing these issues and building a culture that supports coordination between DevOps and security, it’s possible to overcome these barriers and enjoy the benefits of successful DevOps deployment. 

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