Chef automation survey: what shape is the continuous enterprise?

Automation specialist Chef Software is, unsurprisingly perhaps, a champion of the so-called ‘continuous enterprise’ i.e. one in which software application development can be executed on a continuous basis with Continuous Development (CD),Continuous Integration (CI) and importantly, Continuous Deployment (also CD) into production.

The firm has recently carried out a survey in the pursuit of brand voice ownership or press coverage (both, probably) and questioned some 1,500 IT practitioners across app, infrastructure, security and cross-functional teams.

Rollout faster than headcount

The survey suggests technology rollout is increasing faster than headcount and looks to understand the impact of these trends on specific teams.

Findings from the survey include:

  • Faster deployment speed is the #1 priority.
  • Cross-functional teams release changes on-demand more than any other team type.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents are running (or plan to run) containers.
  • Cross-functional teams lead the way in container adoption.
  • Nearly half of respondents ‘assess for compliance’ inconsistently or not at all.
  • Workloads are increasing faster than headcount.
  • Development teams will grow faster than operations teams in the next year.

Importance of cross-functional teams

Chef says that specialised teams are critical to success in the enterprise, but to thrive in the continuous enterprise, a new breed of cross-functional teams are emerging as the fastest, most forward-leaning teams in the enterprise.

If continuous used to mean continuous, now continuous appears to mean on-demand, like continuously…

… this is because, says Chef, the majority of teams surveyed are releasing changes to production not monthly, weekly or even daily, but on-demand.

Likewise, teams overwhelmingly report reducing the time it takes between an initial software commit and running code in production from weeks and days to mere hours.

According to Chef, “Building the Continuous Enterprise requires teams to increase velocity and embrace emerging technologies. To do so, teams should begin shifting to a developer services model – where the services and preferred tools of developers are adopted across teams – and work to fold security and compliance into the production cycle earlier.”

Fail Fast

Also uncovered as part of this survey was the suggestion that when a failure occurs in production, the majority of respondents (55%) are able to recover in one hour, the shortest possible recovery time in the survey. One-third of respondents (33%) are able to recover in the next window of 4 hours.

Cross-functional teams are 26% more likely than security teams to recover from failure in one hour. Plus… cross-functional are 21% more likely than application teams to recover in the one hour period.

Other elements here include the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) and teams working to implement various forms of it, the use of cloud (and the need for hybrid approaches, obviously), the need for containers in infrastructure… and the fact that the majority of respondents have (or are in progress of) re-architecting monolithic applications into microservices.

“The use of automation is on the rise, with more established technologies seeing wider adoption across the organization. In terms of estate coverage, 61% are automating infrastructure, 30% are automating compliance and 27% are automating container management,” says Chef.

The majority of respondents (58%) say teams across the company are using or mostly using common standard tools to automate tasks, however, only 19% of those teams consider this problem solved.

No crystal ball

But… no matter how fast a team is moving, how many new technologies they are deploying, unexpected work will remain.

Chef concludes that on average, respondents say 19% (i.e. one full day) of the work week is spent dealing with unplanned/unexpected work.