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DevOps Means Business

Gene Kim ("The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win" ), Jez Humble (DevOps Research and Assessment LLC), Nigel Kersten (Puppet Labs), Nicole Forsgren (DORA)
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Last year’s DevOps Survey of Practice found that high performing organizations that were employing DevOps practices were massively outperforming their peers: they were doing 30x more frequent code deploys, had deployment lead times measured in minutes or hours, and their changes and deployments had far better outcomes.

The goal of the 2013 study is to gain a better understanding of exactly what practices are required to achieve this high performance. Our hypothesis is that the following are required, and we’ll be looking to independently evaluate the effect of each of these practices on performance:

  • Small teams with high trust that span the entire value stream: Dev, QA, IT Operations and Infosec
  • Shared goals and shared pain that span the entire value stream
  • Small development batch sizes
  • Presence of continuous, automated integration and testing
  • Emphasis on creating a culture of learning, experimentation and innovation
  • Emphasis on creating resilient systems

We are also testing two other hypotheses that one of us (Gene) is especially excited about, because it’s something he’s wanted to do ever since 1999!

Lead time: In plant manufacturing, lead time is the time required to turn raw materials into finished goods. There is a deeply held belief in the Lean community that lead time is the single best predictor of quality, customer satisfaction, and employee happiness. We are testing this hypothesis for the DevOps value stream in the 2013 survey instrument.

Organizational performance: Last year, we confirmed that DevOps practices correlate with substantially improved IT performance. This year, we will be testing whether improved IT performance correlates with improved business performance. We’ve added questions to gain better understanding of organizational performance, which is known to correlate with business performance (e.g., competitiveness in the marketplace, return on assets, etc.).

There are many other variables that contribute to business performance besides Dev and Ops, but what we’re seeing is that when IT does poorly, the business will do poorly. And when IT helps the organization win, those organizations will out-perform their competitors in the marketplace. Our dream headline would be, “high performing organizations not only do 30x more frequent code deployments than their peers, but they also outperform the S&P 500 by 3x as measured by shareholder return and return on assets.”

Photo of Gene Kim

Gene Kim

"The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win"

Gene Kim is a multiple award-winning CTO, researcher and author. He was founder and CTO of Tripwire for 13 years, and has researched high performing IT organizations for almost as long. He has written three books, including “The Visible Ops Handbook” and “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win."

Photo of Jez Humble

Jez Humble

DevOps Research and Assessment LLC

Jez Humble is a Principal at ThoughtWorks Studios, and co-author of the Jolt Award winning Continuous Delivery, published in Martin Fowler’s Signature Series (Addison Wesley, 2010), and the forthcoming Lean Enterprise, in Eric Ries’ Lean series. He has worked with a variety of platforms and technologies, consulting for nonprofits, telecoms, financial services, and online retail companies. His focus is on helping organisations deliver valuable, high-quality software frequently and reliably through implementing effective engineering practices.

Photo of Nigel Kersten

Nigel Kersten

Puppet Labs

Nigel came to Puppet Labs from Google HQ in Mountain View, where he was responsible for the design and implementation of one of the largest Puppet deployments in the world. He’s been a sysadmin for Linux and Mac deployments since before Mac OS became a UNIX, and was voted one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Mac Technical Community in 2006.
Photo of Nicole Forsgren

Nicole Forsgren


Nicole Forsgren Velasquez is professor at Utah State University, with a background in IT impacts, knowledge management, user experience, enterprise storage, and system administration. Nicole holds a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems and a Masters in Accounting from the University of Arizona. Her public work includes technical white papers, a patent, and research papers. She is also involved in initiatives to support women in tech.