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Google DORA Report Details Best Practices to Speed DevOps

The 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps report from Google Cloud’s DORA group provides insight into the best practices of elite development teams.

DevOps practices continue to mature as a growing number of organizations are increasingly displaying characteristics of high performance, according to the 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps report.

The 45-page report comes from Google's DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) group and benefits from the responses of 1,200 professionals from around the world. Among the key findings in the report is that there are now more organizations that are classified as “elite performers” by DORA than ever before. The report also found a close alignment between the adoption of site reliability engineering (SRE) practices and DevOps success, as well as a correlation between use multicloud and greater success.

DORA categorizes elite performers as organizations that have a high deployment frequency, with multiple deployments per day and a lead time for making changes of less than one hour. Elite performers are also categorized as having a very low change failure rate (less than 15%). In the 2018 Accelerate State of DevOps report, only 7% of organizations were identified as being elite performers. That number has grown significantly over the past three years, with 26% of organizations now categorized as elite performers.

"People are continuing to move faster in terms of their delivery performance," Dustin Smith, user experience researcher for Google Cloud, told ITPro Today.

Google DORA Report Identifies DevOps Elite Performers

Smith noted that teams that can deliver software quickly reliably see value-driven to the business. As such, Smith commented that teams have a strong motivation for accelerating DevOps.

Elite performers also recover quicker, which means that when experiments fall flat, a rollback or fix is not difficult.

"Having more deployments and shorter lead times means iterations can be tested more often in a production or production-like environment," Smith said. "This gives teams the ability to experiment and find solutions that best serve their customers more efficiently."

The Google DORA Intersection of Accelerated DevOps and SRE

The Google DORA report found that teams that make use of SRE operational practices are more likely to have better software delivery and operational performance, as well as better business outcomes.

"DevOps core principles are consistent with many of SRE’s principles and practices," Smith said. "SRE is a learning discipline that prioritizes cross-functional communication and psychological safety, the same values that are at the core of the performance-oriented generative culture typical of elite DevOps teams." 

Smith explained that extending from its core principles, SRE provides practical techniques, including the service-level indicator/service-level objective (SLI/SLO) metrics framework. That idea is similar to the DevOps and lead development approach of having rapid user feedback cycles.

How Good Documentation Accelerates DevOps

The 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps study also asked respondents about developer documentation, which is the first time that question was asked.

According to the report, teams with high-quality documentation are better able to implement technical practices and perform better as a whole. The report concluded that DevOps teams with high-quality documentation are 3.8 times more likely to implement security best practices and 2.5 times more likely to fully benefit from the cloud.

The Google DORA report also discovered that there is a measurable impact from using more than just one cloud provider. Organizations that make use of mutlicloud deployments were 1.6 times more likely to exceed their organizational performance targets than those that did not, according to the report.

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