The State of Continuous Delivery in 2021

CD Continuous delivery CData

Content By Devops .com

One of the hallmarks of DevOps is to improve the delivery of software. Therefore, mature DevOps systems employ continuous delivery (CD), the process of releasing bite-sized software changes on a regular basis. Amid high demand for digital innovation, streamlining this release pipeline is becoming more and more crucial for enabling overall software fluidity.

So, what is the state of CD among today’s development teams? The Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) recently released its 2021 State of Continuous Delivery Report, a study that helps establish baseline continuous delivery metrics. Below, we’ll review some key takeaways from the report and discover mean rates for things like deployment frequencies, recovery times and average lead time for code changes.

Benefits of Continuous Delivery (CD)

Before we look at the broad metrics surrounding CD adoption, let’s consider: what are the benefits of CD? A big net benefit of CD, the report noted, is that it helps realize feedback earlier in the software development cycle. A lean, CD-driven development approach could help quickly discover features that won’t succeed, which avoids wasting precious development resources.

CD also increases overall delivery speed for small software chunks. In an era where microservices architecture is all the rage, this process is a necessity for continually initiating many disparate updates. For example, Netflix utilizes Spinnaker to deliver hundreds of microservices and thousands of daily deployments.

With these results, organizations can reap increased responsiveness and agility. CD can enable fast feedback to changes, which can help businesses adapt to unforeseen conditions, such as zero-day exploits. An investment in CD can also bring net positives to developer team dynamics, according to the report.

Continuous Delivery Statistics

Software performance can be indicative of overall organizational performance. So, how should an organization measure its software delivery success? Well, the book Accelerate outlines four crucial metrics to watch: lead time for changes, deployment frequency, time to restore service and change failure rate. The CDF report establishes current industry averages for three of them.

In terms of deployment frequency, the study found that the highest percentage of developers (31.3%) release once per week to once per month. A large percentage of developers, 27.3%, release every month to six months. Only 10.8% of developers are elite performers, releasing multiple times per day. This indicates that rapid release cycles are still maturing across organizations.

The average lead time for changes is more variable than you might think. It takes 28.3% of developers one week to one month to go from committed code to running code successfully in production. For 27.3% of developers, this lead time is increased, from one month to six months. Only 5.74% of developers say it takes less than an hour, indicating that a truly on-demand delivery mechanism remains out of reach at most organizations.

On the other hand, developers are much quicker to act when it comes to restoring services. The survey showed 34.4% of respondents said it takes them one hour to one day to respond to an unplanned outage. A significant number, 15%, respond to incidents in less than one hour. Still, about 50% of outliers are responding somewhere between one day and more than six months.

Decreasing the mean time to recovery (MTTR) is imperative to respond to broken applications, quickly address security vulnerabilities, and meet evolving customer expectations. As a result, MTTR has become a de facto metric for Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) to watch closely.

Factors That Affect Software Delivery

Other factors may influence software delivery agility, such as industry type and programming language preferences. Out of the many industries attempting to refine their delivery models, the report highlighted retail as an industry that ranks high in both speed and stability metrics. Other sectors, such as financial services, government and energy ranked high on stability yet received only average scores for speed. Industries like telecommunications received poorer overall scores.

Programming language choices may also dictate overall software delivery performance. The study found that shell scripting languages, Go, JavaScript, PHP and Scala were among the top five programming languages, based on the combined software delivery performance data for organizations using each language.

DevOps Aims to Improve CD

Continuous delivery is vital to responding quickly to changes and enabling iterative, progressive delivery of new features.

Another facet of modern CD that can’t be understated is the widespread prevalence and reliance on open source tools. CDF open source packages like Jenkins, Jenkins X, Spinnaker and Ortelius remain vital to enabling CD processes for numerous developer teams.

The 2021 State of Continuous Delivery Report provides a baseline of standard continuous delivery practices across companies and sectors. The findings are based on SlashData’s Developer Nation survey, which reached 19,000+ respondents from 155 countries from late 2020 to early 2021. One area where reporting is lacking is change failure rates, which we hope future studies will benchmark. For more insights, you can download the report here.

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