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DevOps is an approach, not a prescriptive ideal. Still, every organization needs to be able to measure the impact and effectiveness of their investment in DevOps tools and practices.
That's why we collected the top DevOps KPIs from a combination of our own research into the latest DevOps trends in the State of DevOps (including surveys of more than 4,000 people) and stories shared with Puppet.
This blog lays out the top DevOps KPIs and how you can use them to estimate or demonstrate the success of your DevOps investment.
Table of Contents
Most organizations developing software and infrastructure are faced with similar challenges. Those can include siloed teams, inefficiencies in development, and failed releases. Those challenges in turn prevent organizations from getting the most from their tools, teams, and processes.
Essentially, DevOps is when organizations bring together development teams (the people making software) and operations teams (the people deploying that software into production) to overcome those challenges. In the 2023 State of DevOps Report on Platform Engineering, organizations doing DevOps reported benefits of enhanced system reliability (60%), greater productivity/efficiency (59%), and even better workflow standards (57%).
Of course, since every team is different, their approach to achieve those benefits will vary. Our 2021 report found that 78% of organizations were stuck in the middle of their DevOps evolution. That means many organizations have refined their internal workflows, but still aren’t seeing the results they should be.
Those reasons range from technical challenges (knowing how to use the right DevOps tools) to cultural blockers (getting buy-in from higher-ups, avoiding risk, etc.). By measuring these key DevOps KPIs, organizations can track how effective their efforts are and make improvements where needed.
The main DevOps KPIs are deployment frequency, lead time for changes, change failure rate, and mean time to restore.
... according to DevOps engineers, anyway. Let's dig into each of these DevOps KPIs below.
Boosting deployment frequency has been a powerful motivator for shifts in development practices. The ability to make code changes quickly and easily is a key competitive advantage. Any company that needs to quickly deliver new features to customers benefits from faster deployments.
People responding to our survey told us they were able to deploy much faster after implementing DevOps initiatives in their organizations. Teams that had been following DevOps practices the longest were shipping code up to 30 times faster – and completing deployments up to 8,000 times faster – than their lower-performing peers.
📄 Case Study: What Staples did when they needed to speed up development
These numbers may sound exaggerated, until you hear real stories of companies that used to deploy once or twice a year, and now deploy multiple times per day. Some companies deploy changes as often as every few minutes.
Frequent code deployment depends in large part on being able to move quickly from committed code to that code running successfully in the production environment.
More than 25 percent of our respondents reported that their teams had were able to accelerate time to deployment to less than a day. Just under half of those respondents said deployment took less than an hour.
It’s great to deploy more frequently and quickly, but if changes fail just as frequently, you’ve gained nothing. Failed deployments can take services down, resulting in lost revenue and frustrated customers.
DevOps practices can have a big impact on DevOps KPIs like failure rate. The survey respondents whose organizations are performing well reported 50 percent fewer failures from code changes.
📄 Case Study: Automated change management at Interhyp
Some high-performing technology teams have taken service reliability to dramatic heights. Amazon Web Services says just 0.001 percent of its deployments cause outages. Barack Obama’s technology team processed more than 180 terabytes of data over 18 months, and experienced just 30 minutes of downtime.
Measuring how quickly service can be restored after a failed deployment is extremely important to any DevOps approach. When service does go out, the ability to recover quickly can make a huge difference to business results.
It’s not surprising, then, that large web companies like Google, Etsy, Netflix and Amazon push the envelope in their efforts to improve time to recovery, regularly breaking their applications and infrastructure to discover – and provision against – anything that can go wrong. That's where this vital DevOps KPI comes in.
The best-performing organizations represented in our survey were able to restore service 12 times faster than their peers. Almost 75 percent of respondents being able to restore service in less than an hour. A much smaller group (about 28 percent) said they could restore services within a few minutes.
The business benefits of DevOps practices become clear when you measure them against the right DevOps KPIs. Companies that can deploy changes quickly and reliably are able to introduce new features and improvements in response to the market, and ahead of competitors. Their revenue streams are more dependable, and they can plan better for the future.
All that is great and quantifiable, but the human benefits of DevOps practices matter just as much to the people who adopt them. That makes team satisfaction as valuable a KPI for DevOps teams as any.
More than half our survey respondents said that cultural change within their organization was one of the top benefits of changing over to DevOps practices. That means that thanks to DevOps, organizations are finding a huge reward from a simple concept like collaboration and cooperation between developers and IT operations.
The stories we hear from customers and community members confirm that human benefit: the IT ops people who no longer get the 3:00 AM call to fix a broken deployment, and the developers who now see the IT team as allies and friends, instead of obstacles.
GET THE DEVOPS REPORT
This blog was originally published on July 19, 2013, and has since been updated for relevance and accuracy.
Nicole Joe is a Product Manager at Puppet.