To understand DevOps CI/CD usage trends, SlashData has, over the past three and a half years, tracked the usage of continuous integration & delivery (CI/CD) tools and services among mobile, desktop and web developers. While DevOps is technically a culture rather than a set of tools, CI/CD is at the core of the collaboration process between operations and developers. These tools enable some of the most important benefits of the shift to this new culture. As can be seen in the chart below, the majority of developers are not using these tools and usage is not growing.
While many firms in various studies have indicated that they are adopting DevOps, our data suggests that this shift in culture is not ubiquitous across organisations. Has the use of CI/CD tools reached as many developers as it can or are there certain market barriers?
% of developers using CI/CD tools
Profile of CI/CD users
Understanding the profile of developers using CI/CD compared to those that are not can provide more insight into why usage is not as high as one might expect. In general, developers who use CI/CD tools are professionals working for companies with larger development teams and are more experienced compared to developers not using CI/CD.
Data from our most recent survey shows that developers that are using CI/CD tools are much more likely to be professional developers than those that are not. Web developers using CI/Cd tools are 20 percentage points more likely to be professional developers compared to developers not using these tools. For mobile and desktop developers this differential is 22 and 18 percentage points respectively.
Our most recent survey also shows that 46% of developers using CI/CD tools work for organisations with more than 20 people involved in software development. This compares to only 32% of CI/CD non-users who work for firms with more than 20 developers. The fact that CI/CD users are less likely to work in smaller developer teams points to lower demand at small firms. This may be due to less complex development operations requiring less automation and integration of developer and IT teams.
58% of developers using CI/CD tools work for firms with 10 or more people involved in software development
How big are the development operations adopting CI/CD?
Developers who use CI/CD are also more experienced than developers who have not integrated CI/CD into their development process. Of web developers using CI/CD, 44% have six or more years of experience compared to just 28% of developers who are not using CI/CD. For desktop developers, we see the same trend, with 49% of these developers using CI/CD possessing six or more years of experience compared to 34% of developers who are not using CI/CD. Mobile developers using CI/CD are slightly less experienced, but the overall trend holds true, with 49% of developers using CI/CD having three or more years of experience, 17 percentage points more than those not using CI/CD.
As developer operations adopt DevOps culture, to improve the odds of success, developers should have an understanding of the entire development process. This may be easier for more experienced developers to manage.
While some may struggle, other developers have fully embraced the shift to DevOps and bring a variety of skills to the table and have carved out a role as a DevOps specialist.
The DevOps Specialist
DevOps specialists play an important role in driving DevOps culture and are often evangelists. These practitioners are relatively uncommon with only 5% of developers in our survey identifying as having this job. This lack of evangelists and experts may be an important factor limiting the culture shift throughout an organisation.
Finding professionals with diverse skill sets to occupy these roles may be contributing to the low number of DevOps specialists. One of the keys to successful DevOps implementation is merging of cultures so it is important that professionals driving the process have an understanding of and empathy for how both IT and developers work.
Developers who identify as a DevOps specialist are a diverse group and indicate that they play additional roles in organisations beyond just DevOps specialist. The majority of survey respondents identify as software developers but DevOps specialists are 8 percentage points more likely to also be a software developer compared to developers who do not identify as a DevOps specialist.
DevOps specialists are also much more likely to be architects, administrators (both data and system), engineers and testers. These skills play an important role in the implementation of DevOps. Architects are needed to automate processes, administrators are required to manage release schedules and testers and QA engineers are needed to test software as it moves through each step of the iterative development process.
What else do DevOps specialists do?
Digging deeper into the DevOps specialist’s skill sets we can also observe that many have more than one role beyond DevOps specialist. From the table below we can see how these developers describe themselves and how their roles overlap. Twenty-three per cent of DevOps specialists are both programmers and system administrators and 27% are programmers and architects. Having development skills and an understanding of how to manage and design systems are an important combination of skills for leading a DevOps strategy.
DevOps specialists’ additional roles
While DevOps is a very popular strategy already adopted by many organisations, based on the number of developers using CI/CD tools, not all developers are buying in. The DevOps culture has been slower in reaching less experienced developers and ones at smaller firms. The need for more experienced professionals with diverse skills may be a barrier to more developers benefiting from DevOps tools such as CI/CD.
If you are interested in learning more, here is some additional reading.You can voice your opinion in our current survey to shape the next State of the Developer Nation report and contribute to future DevOps CI/CD usage trends.