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DevOps engineers face pressure to automate, survey says

DevOps may be the future of software development, but for many DevOps engineers, it's a buzzword disrupting workflows and the way developers have done software for years.

According to a recent LogiGear Corp. survey, a majority of DevOps engineers and practitioners are feeling the heat to automate. From its second software industry survey of the year, LogiGear found that 60% of respondents doing DevOps noted "a lot" of pressure to automate, while only 46% of those not doing DevOps noted such pressure.

I don't find this result surprising, because any change in a company's workflow is bound to create pressure. In fact, the pressure to automate is most likely due to an effort to speed up their software release cycle. So, it shouldn't be viewed as a condemnation on DevOps. It could actually be viewed as proof that employees have bought into DevOps and are working hard to implement the changes it requires.

Expect bumps

While buy-in and hard work go a long way to doing DevOps, bumps are unavoidable. LogiGear's survey found that nearly half of the respondents who are practicing DevOps reported they experienced "a lot" of environment or test data problems, while those not doing DevOps reported fewer problems. LogiGear called this finding "an unexpected survey result."

I think it's right to expect DevOps engineers to hit a few snags along the way. Michael Hackett, senior vice president of LogiGear, seemingly explains this finding.

"DevOps can be a big disruptor, bringing with it a new manner of working, a new set of tools," Hackett said. "What most teams want is a smooth-running software development pipeline and, with DevOps, that can take time."

Continuous delivery eliminates the visualization of the big issues that come to mind when thinking of the term 'DevOps.'

In fact, a company's culture must shift along with its workflow, and your culture must embrace bumps along the way. Elinor Klavens from Forrester Research said that in a healthy DevOps culture, leaders provide "air cover to let their people experiment and make mistakes. This air cover takes the form of error budgets, innovation labs and using failures as the opportunity to redefine and redevelop automation. In short, [they] leverage failure as a learning experience."

DevOps, the buzzword

Pressure to automate and mistakes are both nitty-gritty details that DevOps engineers face working toward the goal of continuous delivery -- details that the term DevOps sometimes fails to connote.

"At LogiGear, we have stopped using the phrase DevOps, and now instead use continuous delivery," Hackett said. "There are many reasons for this. First, continuous delivery eliminates the visualization of the big issues that come to mind when thinking of the term DevOps. Second, it seems continuous delivery is what software teams really need."

One survey respondent put the sentiment a little more bluntly.

"Agile and Scrum were concrete processes that led to tangible and positive results in the workplace. On the other hand, I have yet to understand the term DevOps except as a meaningless buzzword that has had zero effect to our work processes."

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