DevOps: From Unicorns To Mainstream

Robert Stroud
Principal Analyst
July 9, 2017

Every day I hear more about the pressure I&O organizations are under to accelerate the delivery of applications and services and the pressure it is placing on the existing resources.  As organizations transition, DevOps, formally the purview of unicorns, is now transitioning to mainstream.  DevOps, which started as a grassroots approach by development organizations who were looking to extend their agile practices to support the faster deployment of code, has become business as usual across the whole organization.

Our recent research confirms that I&O professionals are actively building and updating their practices to bridge the remaining divide from Agile to DevOps.  DevOps objectives support the business transformation agenda of agility and innovation with fast, frequent, high-quality releases that drive your business forward to compete, differentiate and win!

DevOps Moving Mainstream

Our recent report, “DevOps Heat Map 2017”, confirms DevOps is moving to mainstream – no longer just for unicorns, like, Etsy, Facebook, and Netflix.[i]  Although momentum varies by industry, leaders at companies of all ages, sizes, and types are eagerly pursuing DevOps as they look to continue their digital transformations forward –  our research found three significant aspects to the transformation.

  • Culture and people come first — process follows
  • Release velocity is pivotal
  • There’s no “easy” button

To empower your transformation — we grouped our findings into 3 primary categories to understand the relative heat by industry including

Culture and process, release velocity and automation tools — all of which are key to success.

Banking, Insurance and Finance Accelerating

DevOps is a hot discussion topic with the evidence of DevOps practices varying by industry. For instance, in our report “DevOps Heat Map 2017”, we identified the relative DevOps heat across industry segments by looking at 3 primary categories including Culture and process, release velocity and automation tools all critical to success and our findings included a number of key observations;

  • DevOps Is Growing In Regulated Industries
    Financial services, insurance, utilities, and telecommunications are leading the charge to widespread DevOps adoption. These industry segments are balancing compliance with velocity to drive innovation.
  • I&O Must Prepare To Cut The Fat For Lean Execution
    Most organizations have spent decades developing complex processes, many with manual approvals and linear execution. Effective DevOps journeys begin with exercises such as value stream mapping to streamline and remove redundant processes.
  • Management Support Is A Key To Cultural Transition
    Cultural changes are never easy, and the move to a learning culture with product teams will require a foundational transition that will experience bumps along the way. You’ll need patience, leadership, and management support as you reposition your people and they develop new skills.

The Time Is NOW — To Accelerate Your DevOps Approach

Customer choice and disruptive startups are pressuring all business segments. Should you fail to read the warning signals and not pursue DevOps practices, your lack of velocity could damage your business and send you the way of the Dodo bird.[ii] The objectives for DevOps practices are to accelerate velocity and speed of delivery of services and applications; drive quality of services; and, more importantly, drive experiences that your customers value.

Success in DevOps will require you review your total approach. Some of the secrets to success discussed include:

  • Automation across the complete lifecycle is not an option. As you transition to a release cadence that could be hourly, manual support is no longer an option — automation from the developer checking in code to deployment and all stages in-between will be paramount to your success.
  • Don’t forget to automate testing — it’s worth it! Shifting your testing left will be the gift that simply keeps on giving – allowing you to identify and resolve defects in development, deflecting them from being found by your customers.[iii]
  • Dedicated people, critical to success. Dedication of people to the DevOps initiative is critical to success – the allocation of part-time exercises resources will only lead to partial success as you people become fragmented. Remove them from their day to day role and focus them for success.

In our report “DevOps Heat Map 2017”, Elinor Klavens and I discuss the adoption of DevOps by industry segments and address how effective DevOps practices translate to customer value for your IT organization and your customers.

As always, I welcome your observations, comments, and experiences. You can contact me here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@RobertEStroud).


[i] The Phoenix Project defines “unicorns” as digitally native companies like Amazon, Etsy, Google, and Netflix. Source: Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford, The Phoenix Project, IT Revolution Press, 2013.

[ii] For more on the Dodo bird see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo

[iii] More information on continuous testing, see “Vendor Landscape: Continuous Testing For Agile And DevOps Environments” Forrester report.

Related Forrester Content (For clients or purchase)

DevOps Heat Map 2017
Vendor Landscape: Continuous Testing Services For Agile And DevOps Environments
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