Over the past seven years, more than 32,000 professionals worldwide have taken part in the Accelerate State of DevOps reports, making it the largest and longest-running research of its kind. Year over year, the Accelerate State of DevOps reports provide data-driven industry insights that examine the capabilities and practices that drive software delivery as well as operational and organizational performance. That is why Google Cloud’s DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) team is very excited to announce our 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps Report.

Our research continues to illustrate that excellence in software delivery and operational performance drives organizational performance in technology transformations. This year we also investigated the effects of SRE best practices, a secure software supply chain, quality documentation, and multicloud—all while gaining a deeper understanding of how this past year affected team’s culture and burnout.

Read below to find some of the new findings from this year’s report:

Software delivery performance metrics

Based on key findings from previous Accelerate State of DevOps reports, we again used four metrics to classify teams as elite, high, medium or low performers based on their software delivery: deployment frequency, lead time for changes, mean-time-to-restore, and change fail rate. This year we saw that elite performers continue to accelerate their pace of software delivery, increasing their lead time for changes from less than one day to less than one hour. Not only that, but elite performers deploy 973x more frequently than low performers, have a 6570x faster lead time to deploy, a 3x lower change failure rate, and an impressive 6570x faster time-to-recover from incidents when failure does happen. You read that right: compared to low performers, elite performers are continually able to empirically demonstrate organizational success with DevOps.

The fifth metric: from availability to reliability

Historically we have measured availability rather than reliability, but because availability is a specific focus of reliability engineering, we’ve expanded our measure to reliability so that availability, latency, performance, and scalability are more broadly represented. Specifically, we asked respondents to rate their ability to meet or exceed their reliability targets. We found that teams with varying degrees of delivery performance see better outcomes when they also prioritize operational performance.

2021 insights: the impact of reliability, COVID and secure software supply chains

In addition to measuring the impact of DevOps adoption on software delivery performance, this year’s DORA report also revealed many other new trends. Here’s a sampling.

1) A healthy team culture mitigates burnout during challenging times

Respondents who worked from home because of the pandemic experienced more burnout than those who stayed in the office (a small portion of our sample). Inclusive teams with a generative culture were half as likely to experience burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2) The highest performers continue to raise the bar

For the first time, high and elite performers make up two-thirds of respondents—compared to the 2019 report where low and medium performers made up 56% of respondents. We can confidently say that as the industry continues to accelerate its adoption of DevOps principles teams see meaningful benefits as a result.

3) SRE and DevOps are complementary philosophies

Extending from its core principles, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) provides practical techniques, including the service level indicator/service level objective (SLI/SLO) metrics framework. The SRE framework offers definitions on practices and tooling that can enhance a team’s ability to consistently keep promises to their users. Teams that prioritize both delivery and operational excellence report the highest organizational performance.