F5 Networks has announced the results of a recent survey comparing the views of over 850 NetOps and DevOps IT professionals on their respective disciplines and collaboration practices. Traditionally, the larger IT market has viewed these two groups as somewhat antagonistic toward one other. However, the F5 survey indicates they are largely aligned on priorities, with converging interests around the production pipeline and automation capabilities. Reconciling survey results with the current trend of DevOps turning to outside solutions (such as shadow IT) to deploy applications, an implication emerges that NetOps will need additional skills to adequately support efforts tied to digital transformation and multi-cloud deployments.
In parallel, F5’s Americas Agility conference takes place this week in Chicago, featuring a dedicated focus toward topics relevant to the interplay between NetOps and DevOps. With hands-on experiences such as technology labs and training classes aimed at helping operations and development professionals take advantage of programmable solutions, the event explores how modern applications are successfully developed, deployed, secured, and supported.
Key Survey Findings
NetOps and DevOps respect each other’s priorities: Within each group, over three-quarters of NetOps and DevOps personnel believe the other function to be prioritizing “the right things” within IT, signaling a common understanding of broader goals, and opportunities to increase collaboration between the teams. In addition, the groups are fairly aligned on the pace that apps and services are delivered, with frequency of deployments satisfying a significant majority of both DevOps (70%) and NetOps (74%) personnel.
Support for automation: Both segments agreed that automation within the production pipeline is important, with an average rating of significance on a 5-point scale of 4.0 from DevOps and 3.5 from NetOps. Respondents also reported more confidence in the reliability, performance, and security of applications when the production pipeline is more than 50% automated.
Dissonance around pipeline access: A difference of opinion surfaced around the ideal level of shared access to production resources. Forty-five percent of DevOps believe they should have access to at least 75% of the production pipeline, with significantly less (31%) of NetOps respondents placing the access figure for DevOps that high, hinting at a partial disconnect surrounding expectations and best practices within IT. This misalignment can hamper efforts to streamline processes and deliver applications the business needs to succeed in a digital economy.
Differences driving multi-cloud deployments: The majority of DevOps (65%) admitted to being influenced toward adopting cloud solutions either “a lot” or “some” by the state of access to the pipeline via automation/self-service capabilities. Related, a significant portion of NetOps (44%) indicated that DevOps’ use of outside cloud technologies affects their desire to provide pipeline access “some,” with an additional 21% stating that it influences them “a lot.” One result of this is the use of multiple cloud solutions and providers across IT, further complicating the process of delivering, deploying, and scaling applications that support digital transformation efforts.
“We see some interesting data points around network- and development-focused personnel,” said Ben Gibson, EVP and chief marketing officer, F5. “While DevOps seeks more open access to the deployment pipeline to drive the speed of innovation, NetOps can be much more cautious around permissions — presumably because they’re the ones that bear the responsibility if security, availability, or performance are compromised. Despite different approaches, both groups support each other’s efforts, and seem to agree that more flexible technologies are needed to overcome current business limitations, bridge disparate functions, and position IT to better leverage public, private, and multi-cloud environments. Overall, neither group’s responses seemed particularly well aligned with the ‘us vs. them’ narrative that has loomed large in the media to date.”
Bridging IT Functions between NetOps and DevOps
Taken together, the survey results point to a rising interest in automation and self-service that can be linked to the rapid adoption of cloud-based solutions, and the desired flexibility they provide. NetOps and DevOps each demonstrate a willingness to introduce emerging technologies and methods into the production pipeline. However, the speed of innovation can also push traditional IT operations teams beyond their current skill levels, contributing potential resistance on the path to streamlined future application rollouts. From the survey, DevOps reports a confidence level of 3.6 on a 5-point scale in terms of if they have the skills their job function requires, with NetOps’ self-assessment yielding a slightly lower figure (3.4).
The survey findings are in step with F5’s belief that enhanced education will play a larger role in bringing these two groups together and rallying around shared goals. To that aim, F5 offers a growing library of industry certification programs that help customers tailor their application delivery infrastructures across related disciplines and provide common frameworks for different roles throughout the organization. With testing available at F5’s Agility conferences and other venues, over 2,500 certifications have been earned in the past year. In addition, F5’s vibrant DevCentral community provides a means for over 250,000 customers, developers, and other IT professionals to pool their collective knowledge, learn from each other’s experiences, and make the most of their technology investments.
Looking forward, F5 is focused on enabling shared empowerment between NetOps and DevOps teammates, concurrent with their use of multi-cloud solutions. The company’s programmable BIG-IP® products, along with adjacent technologies such as its container-focused offerings, provide compelling platforms for evolving IT groups to apply valuable acceleration, availability, and security services to make their applications, users, and operations practices more successful. Further detail on the survey results and methodology can be found in a companion report.