Still time for DevOps latecomers to gain ground on early adopters, claims Dora CEO

Enterprises that are late to the DevOps game should learn from the mistakes of early adopters to help make up lost ground, Nicole Forsgren, the CEO of DevOps research and assessment (Dora), has said.

Speaking to Computer Weekly ahead of the DevOps Enterprise Summit (Does) in London on 5-6 June, Forsgren said it would be a mistake to assume latecomers to the DevOps trend will necessarily find themselves at a disadvantage.

While many of the early DevOps adopters are now admittedly “five-to-six years” into their adoption journey, she said, opportunities exist for the latecomers to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before to make up for lost time.

“The organisations that are five-to-six years ahead got there through experimentation, trial and error, and doing anything they could think of, so why not take advantage of their experience?” she said.

“If you know you are one of those organisations that is five or six years behind the pack, it is very important to focus on the things that will accelerate your journey. If you can optimise your path, imagine how quickly you can catch up.”

Helping enterprises pinpoint the barriers they need to overcome to help DevOps take off in their organisation is what Forsgren, along with co-founders Jez Humble and Gene Kim, set Dora up for in 2016.

“So often people come up to us at conferences, or when we speak at companies, and say they wished there was a way they could measure and benchmark their own team and organisation to better understand how to get started,” she said.

“We’ve been consulting and researching long enough, and the answer is always ‘it depends’. Unless I know about your company, your context and your systems, I can’t tell you. The answer is not going to be the same for every single company,” said Forsgren.

Drawing on the industry knowledge the three had accrued through their consulting work and multi-year participation in Puppet’s annual State of DevOps Report, they created a platform and processes that would allow them to give enterprises the precise answer they were looking for.

Using evidence-based tools, backed by more than 20,000 data points, the company claims to be able to benchmark enterprises and their digital transformation efforts against how organisations in the same industry are performing.

Identifying debilitating factors

The company also collects data on how the teams in the organisation are doing, allowing Dora to identify things that are going well and areas that could be hampering a company’s efforts to deploy high-quality code, in a safe and efficient way.

Capital One was one of our first customers and we identified two areas – change process control and trunk-based development – they needed to address,” said Forsgren.

“They were actually slightly sceptical, but saw a 20-fold improvement in release frequency in just two months [with our help] without an increase in incident, because we were able to point them in the right direction and focus their efforts as a result of the measuring, assessing and benchmarking we did.”

Assessing the state of enterprise DevOps

Forsgren is presenting the closing keynote at the Does show on Tuesday 6 June, where she will be joined onstage by Dora chief technology officer Humble and Puppet chief technical strategist Nigel Kersten to discuss the findings of the 2017 State of DevOps report, which will be published the same day.

While not wanting to give too much away about what readers can expect from the 2017 edition of the survey ahead of publication, Forsgren confirmed there were a number of new areas the report explores for the first time this year, or in greater detail than in previous editions.

“We take a deeper dive into some of the technical practices this year,” she said. “We take a look into the architecture, which is a great way to investigate some really important practices that drive IT performance to develop and deliver software with speed and stability.”

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