This sponsored post is produced by Rackspace Managed Cloud.

Since the term first appeared at a conference in Belgium in 2009, DevOps — a practice that breaks down the traditional silos between development and operations — has steadily gained momentum. Based on a recent survey, 2015 looks set to be a watershed year for its widespread adoption.

A survey of 700 IT decision-makers sponsored by Rackspace polled tech and business managers in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, from companies that have between 250 and 3000+ employees. Of the respondents who said they hadn’t yet embraced a DevOps approach, 79 percent said they were planning to begin that journey before the end of 2015.

And despite the relative newness of DevOps, a large number of companies have dipped their toes in, if not completely transitioned. Over 55 percent of the surveyed companies reported they are already using DevOps practices or approaches. U.S. companies are leading that charge — 66 percent of companies have implemented DevOps as opposed to 40 percent in the U.K. and 50 percent in Australia.

As a close cousin to Agile development, DevOps is on target to become the dominant approach to building, testing and deploying software into the marketplace at scale.

Why has DevOps seen such growth?

One answer lies in the combined impact of the Internet, cloud computing and open source software. The Age of Apps and the ballooning demand for software services have created the conditions necessary for a paradigm shift towards DevOps.

While the promise of DevOps is often seen as greater efficiency and faster time to market, surveyed businesses that are already using it cite increased customer satisfaction, greater application uptime and lower costs among their primary motivations. Statistically, DevOps seems to be cheaper, faster, more scalable and reliable than preceding methods of application management and deployment.

A cultural movement, not just a toolkit

With so many potential benefits up for grabs, some experienced practitioners fear that companies will try to implement DevOps without realizing it’s not simply a bundle of automation tools that push software out the door faster. “DevOps is both a social system and a technical system, a Socio-Technical System. You can’t buy DevOps in a box,” says Kevin Behr, Chief Science Officer at Praxis Flow.

Bharat Krish, VP on Information Technology for HBO Latin America, echoes this sentiment. “Do not look at software development or support as a playbook that you can bring wherever you go,” he says. “You have to first understand the culture of the company, the people, the customers you serve, and it also depends on the region.”

But despite the sometimes-difficult cultural changes that underpin DevOps adoption, more companies are embracing it than ever before.

Human brain function represented by red and blue gearsLearn more about the massive shift in DevOps — get Rackspace’s whitepaper on DevOps Adoption

Who is driving DevOps adoption within the business?

Another misconception about DevOps is that its adoption is being driven by developers and foisted upon the operations side of the organization. Developers are often associated with agility and innovation, while operations is associated with risk management and keeping the lights on. However, the latest survey suggests that the operations folks are leading the way.

Among those already using DevOps, 43 percent say the decision was primarily driven by the IT operations team. It was less likely for an individual such as the CIO (25 percent) or the CTO (seven percent) or a member of the business leadership (five percent) to lead the implementation.

This trend suggests that once the DevOps mandate is created within a company, it’s the operations team that is tasked with implementing and managing the program. IT operations has, in fact, understood its new role in cloud, open source, and the Internet. They are no longer solely focused on risk mitigation and compliance but on getting the best out of the development side of the business.

In a small number of cases, marketing was the catalyst for DevOps adoption. This reflects not only the growing tech savvy within marketing but also the CMO’s increasing foothold in the technology budget. If customer experience, revenue, and time to market are essential for the marketing organization, it makes sense that DevOps is increasingly seen as a vehicle for delivering better results in those areas.

What DevOps looks like in practice

The majority of the surveyed companies (70 percent) outsource some portion of their DevOps work. Cost savings, greater productivity, and freeing IT up to focus on innovation are among the main reasons cited for outsourcing an average of 25 percent of the DevOps work. As with cloud, IT organizations are developing an array of methods and procedures for collaborating on workloads, server management, and code deployment on both sides of the corporate firewall.

While the survey highlights the rapid adoption of DevOps within the next year, it also underscores the need for careful planning and cross-team collaboration. For the right organizational fit, its measurable benefits seem to warrant overcoming the hurdles on the road to adoption. DevOps — as a concept, a practice, and a cultural shift — is at the heart of new IT’s mission to be a center of innovation and business value. 2015 is shaping up to be its big year.

Chris Jackson is the CTO of DevOps Services at Rackspace. With over a decade of IT experience in technical support, solution design, account management and web application development, Chris drives technology and service strategy for Rackspace’s new DevOps-based service offering.

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