6 Key Takeaways from DORA’s 2021 State of DevOps Report

September 23, 2021
6 Key Takeaways from DORA’s 2021 State of DevOps Report

The 2021 State of DevOps Report is now available! The full report is always worth a read, but if you don’t have time to dive into the data, we’ve got you covered. Liquibase is a proud sponsor of this year’s report. We were very excited to partner with Google Cloud’s DORA research team to get an early look at their work. 

This year the research team emphasized the importance of reliability, integrating security throughout the software supply chain, creating quality internal documentation, and explored the effects of working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With seven years of research and more than 32,000 responses from industry professionals under their belt, this year’s report doesn’t disappoint! Here are our top takeaways from this year’s research.

A secure process drives performance

… organizations must shift from reactive practices to proactive and diagnostic measures. Teams that integrate security practices throughout their software supply chain deliver software quickly, reliably, and safely.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

Elite DevOps performers were found to be twice as likely to have security integrated into their software development process.

More than 22 billion records of confidential personal information or business data were exposed in 2020.1 Software teams now need to assume that their systems are already compromised and build security into their entire process. Given the increase in attacks, protecting systems from ransomware and malware is absolutely essential. 

Beyond guarding against malicious code, making sure that teams aren’t letting unwanted privilege configurations slip through the pipeline automation is critical for preventing breaches. We found it interesting that the report data tells us that organizations that integrate security practices throughout their software chain also tend to deliver faster.

Faster being safer may seem counterintuitive, but it makes a lot of sense considering how error-prone manual tasks can be. 

The report provides several points on how to get security right, including:

  • Integrating information security into the daily work throughout the entire software delivery process. 
  • Having your team build pre-approved, easy-to-consume libraries, packages, toolchains, and processes for developers to use in their work. 

Elite DevOps performers are continuing to shift security left using automation tools like Liquibase early in their software delivery process. Liquibase’s new quality checks feature will help enable developers to use pre-approved database code checks to help ensure teams deliver safe code fast.

Adopting SRE practices throughout software delivery is smart

Teams that leverage modern operational practices outlined by our Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) friends report higher operational performance. Teams that prioritize both delivery and operational excellence report the highest organizational performance.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

Elite performers are 2.1x as likely to report the use of SRE practices as their low-performing counterparts.

The DORA research team has always focused on four key metrics to track software delivery performance: Lead time for changes, deployment frequency, time to restore service, and change failure rate. This year, they have added a fifth key metric for operational performance: Reliability. 

We’ve noticed more teams involving their Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) in their database DevOps decisions, so we were excited to read more information about teams incorporating modern operational practices and how that correlates to better software delivery outcomes. SREs embrace many of the same DevOps goals and techniques. Many organizations may feel confused about needing to choose between DevOps and SRE but there’s no need to pick one over the other; SRE and DevOps are complementary. 

52% of respondents reported the use of SRE practices to some extent. The data indicate that the use of these methods predicts greater reliability and greater overall SDO performance: SRE drives DevOps success

Hug your technical writers

Teams with high quality documentation are better able to implement technical practices and perform better as a whole.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

Teams with higher quality documentation are 2.4 times more likely to see better software delivery and operational performance.

Another addition to the report this year centered on good documentation. DORA measured the quality of internal documentation and its effect on other capabilities and practices. We weren’t surprised to read that teams with high quality documentation performed better. 

About 25% of respondents have good quality documentation. Teams with higher quality documentation are 2.4 times more likely to see better software delivery and operational performance. Documentation is foundational for successfully implementing DevOps. 

Teams with quality documentation are: 

  • 3.8 times more likely to implement security practices 
  • 2.4 times more likely to meet or exceed their reliability targets 
  • 3.5 times more likely to implement Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) practices 
  • 2.5 times more likely to fully leverage the cloud 

The research shows that creating and maintaining good documentation is an integral part of a high-performing software development process. 

A healthy team culture helps organizations meet & exceed goals

Team culture makes a large difference to a team’s ability to deliver software and meet or exceed their organizational goals. Inclusive teams with a generative2,3 culture experienced less burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

The COVID-19 pandemic has been very hard on teams. This year’s report helps shed more light on the impact on teams in terms of performance. While 46% of individuals that worked from home during the pandemic said they had experienced burnout, teams with a strong DevOps culture didn’t struggle with burnout as much.

A healthy team culture includes implementing processes and tools that automate tedious manual tasks and enhance collaboration. One complaint we hear frequently is that manual database schema change reviews are tedious and time consuming. Liquibase is expanding access to our popular rules engine available in Liquibase Enterprise to Liquibase Pro customers to help prevent DBA burnout and make developers’ lives easier with instant feedback on their database code changes.

Use open source software

We recommend that you shift to using more open source software as you implement your DevOps transformation.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

Elite performers are 2.4 times more likely to leverage open source technologies.

DORA recommends open source technologies, like Liquibase, that have a community around them that developers can use for support. Since Liquibase has been around for over 15 years, the code has been battle-tested by millions of developers who actively support each other through our forums and by contributing code. 

Get your database code into version control 

Tracking changes through version control is a crucial part of writing and maintaining code, and for managing databases.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

Elite performers are 3.4 times more likely to incorporate database change management into their process than low performers. 

It doesn’t matter if you are a low, medium, high, or elite performer — integrating database change management into your software delivery process helps to improve your software delivery performance.

DORA outlines the keys to a successful database change management process as including all relevant teams with:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Transparency

Our team recognizes the importance of all of these and has built them into our product. Liquibase Hub, our free dashboard for teams that use Liquibase, provides easy access for all stakeholders to view, organize, and monitor database change activity in real-time.

Summing It Up

The faster your teams can make changes to your software, the sooner you can deliver value to your customers, run experiments, and receive valuable feedback.

Accelerate 2021 State of DevOps Report Google Cloud

DORA’s research continues to show us that organizations are able to deliver software faster and with better stability each year. Elite performers continue to raise the bar, decreasing their lead time for changes. (In 2019, the bar was set at less than one day. In 2021, it’s less than one hour.) 

DevOps is all about making small improvements that over time result in better software that gets to your customers faster. Liquibase wants to help your team improve your database DevOps process with proven, research-driven enhancements.

Join us for our upcoming webinar with one of the authors of the State of DevOps report! We’ll dive into the research and show you how we’re building Liquibase based on DORA’s recommendations so your team can see significant improvements in software delivery. 

WEBINAR

Top Takeaways from the 2021 DORA State of DevOps Report

1 https://www.tenable.com/cyber-exposure/2020-threat-landscape-retrospective
2 From Westrum’s typology organization culture, a generative team culture refers to teams that are highly cooperative, break down silos, let failure lead to inquiry, and share the risk of decision making.
3 Westrum, R. (2004). “A typology of organizational cultures.” BMJ Quality & Safety, 13(suppl 2), ii22-ii27.

Article author
Erika Kalar Senior Content Marketing Manager