Heading into 2023 it’s already apparent the top priority for most DevOps teams in terms of New Year resolutions needs to be improving productivity. A survey of 500 software and engineering professionals, sponsored by Chronosphere, a provider of an observability platform, found engineers spend, on average, more than 10 hours per week attempting to triage and understand incidents. That equates to a quarter of a 40-hour workweek.
Overall, 96% of respondents said they spend most of their time resolving low-level issues, with 88% reporting that amount of time negatively impacts them and their careers because so much time is spent troubleshooting IT issues.
Over a third (33%) said those issues disrupted their personal life with 39% of respondents admitting they are frequently stressed out. Just under a quarter (22%) said they want to quit.
At a time when hiring and retaining DevOps professionals remains a major challenge the current state of the DevOps art within many organizations leaves much to be desired. The survey, for example, finds 40% of respondents frequently get alerts from their observability solution without enough context to triage the incident. A total of 59% said half of the incident alerts they receive from their current observability solution aren’t actually helpful or usable, with 49% reporting they struggled with inconsistent performance using their current approach to observability. Nearly half (45%) said their current observability solution requires a lot of manual time and labor.
The survey suggests there is a direct correlation between how DevOps platforms were built and these issues. A total of 61% relying on a platform they built said they experienced high-severity incidents quarterly or more compared to 42% of those using a vendor solution. Among organizations not using a vendor solution today, the majority said they would consider doing so to enhance team productivity (61%) or improve reliability (54%).
A lot of organizations naturally take a lot of pride in the DevOps platforms they have built. Most software engineers have a bias toward building something themselves rather than relying on a platform created by a vendor or even an open source project maintained by others. However, as a practical matter there are many more tasks that have more value to their organization. Just as critically important, a platform that is being regularly updated by a team of engineers working on behalf of a vendor is likely in time to be a lot more advanced than anything built and maintained on a part time basis by a team of DevOps practitioners that have a host of other duties to perform. As a result, DevOps teams that rely on platforms provided by a vendor are likely to over the long haul be more productive.
Productivity, of course, even in the best of times is always a major concern but given the current state of the global economy many organizations are not nearly as keen to hire full-time employees as they once were. IT leaders, just like every other business executive, are being charged with finding ways to do more with less. Automating many of the manual tasks that conspire to make DevOps workflows less efficient creates an obvious opportunity to make productivity gains. The simple fact is the team that built their own DevOps platform, however, is not likely to have the skills, time or resources required to create the software required to drive that level of automation.
The tradeoff is, as always, the acquisition cost of a modern DevOps platform. The path of least resistance in general is going to continue to use the same platforms for building and deploying software no matter how inefficient they may be. As tempting as that path may seem, however, there is clearly a productivity factor to be considered. In fact, it’s not so much a question of if legacy DevOps platforms will need to be modernized so much as it is when and, as the saying goes, there’s generally no better time than the present to get started.
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