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  • Writer's pictureStathis Georgakopoulos

State of Continuous Integration & Delivery - The Evolution of Software Delivery Performance

Updated: Apr 30

In our latest thought-leading report, SlashData worked with the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) to explore the current state of the CI/CD developer ecosystem and how this has evolved over the past three and half years. 

Within the report, we will look at what proportion of developers are involved in the broader DevOps space and how many work with CI/CD technologies in particular.

The findings in this report are based on data from SlashData’sprevious eight Developer Nation surveys which reached more than 150,000 respondents worldwide over three and half years, from Q3 2020 to Q1 2024. The full version of the report is available for free on the SlashData Research Space, but keep reading to get a better idea of the topics and the insights it offers. 

What is Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery 

Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), often combined and called CI/CD, are software development practices that enable developers to frequently integrate code changes and release frequent software updates reliably and safely. Closely linked to the broader DevOps cultural movement, CI/CD consists of a set of practices to automate and streamline the software delivery process. These practices, in turn, allow developer teams to innovate faster by collecting regular user feedback, prioritise the product features and fixes that matter most, and reduce risk. 

This poses the question: to what extent –really–have developers embraced CI/CD practices and the DevOps culture to increase the effectiveness of their software development and release process?

For the last eight consecutive iterations of SlashData’s biannual Developer Nation survey, we asked developers whether they are involved in any of the activities that commonly fall under the DevOps spectrum, such as CI, CD, and testing applications for security vulnerabilities.

Which developers are into DevOps?

83% of developers involved in DevOps-related activities as of Q1 2024.

As of Q1 2024, 83% of developers are involved in DevOps-related activities. This highlights that developers are adopting DevOps practices in large swathes, even if not identifying as DevOps "specialists". While the current proportion of those involved is a small decrease from the peak Q1 2023 (85%), the decrease is mostly driven by newer developers. 

A quarter of developers with less than two years of experience in software development are not involved in any DevOps-related activities. This indicates that although the vast majority of new developers are engaging in DevOps activities, newer developers should be better educated about the benefits and usefulness of DevOps practices in maximising skill development throughout their careers. Alternatively, it could also suggest that some organisations may want the more skilled/experienced developers working on software delivery processes. In summary, while DevOps involvement has decreased a small amount over the last year, it still higher than DevOps involvement in Q1 2022, when it was 77%.

graph showing how 83% of developers are involved in DevOps

How has software delivery performance evolved?

Within the general developer population, our data shows no clear signs that the velocity for code changes has improved over the last three and a half years. Over this period, the percentage of top performers — those with lead times of less than one day — has fluctuated between 13% and 17% and currently stands at 14% in Q1 2024. It is possible that the increase in DevOps practices has not yet trickled down to positively impact performance. 

However, DevOps has been a mainstay of professional development for several years now. Instead, it may be that the ubiquity of DevOps practices has allowed developers and organisations to increase the complexity of projects they are involved in, counteracting the benefits to development velocity. 

In other words, DevOps practices have likely made the development velocity of complex projects comparable to simpler projects without DevOps practices. 

data graph showing how the proportion of low performers for lead time for code continues to increase

While DevOps may be allowing for the scoping of increasingly complex projects that can harm performance here, another factor may be the consolidation of DevOps technology usage. As we will explore in the next section, developers have been steadily reducing the number of different DevOps technologies they have been using. As DevOps matures, developers go from exploring the space to focusing only on the technologies they find most useful. However, usefulness does not always directly correlate to deployment performance. 

What drives software delivery performance?

In our survey, we capture information on a broad range of DevOps-related technologies that developers use, ranging from tools for managing source code to tools for monitoring application performance. The average number of technologies that DevOps practitioners use, of those listed, has decreased recently, from more than four technologies, on average, before Q1 2023 to 3.4 in Q1 2024.

Similar to the trend in DevOps practices, DevOps technologies are showing a steady decrease in usage over time, but they are retaining their relative popularity. Only agile project management tools and AI-assisted coding tools maintained the proportion of developers using them. However, it is important to note that the developer population is continually growing, as is the number of tools available. As such, small decreases in the proportion of developers using DevOps technologies are not necessarily indicative of declining usage

A further impact may be a change in the way developers and teams approach the ‘shift left’ development philosophy within DevOps. A mixture of security concerns, developers feeling inadequately empowered, and DevOps and DevSecOps teams being key to centralising or managing processes has left developers themselves with fewer DevOps activities in their mandate. 

Embracing DevOps as a philosophy, rather than just a collection of technologies, requires time and capital investment to ensure the processes are working to improve developers’ experience and velocity. 

Further evidence for issues with shift left can be found with developers at companies with more than 1,000 employees. The development velocity across all three measured metrics has remained stable over the last three and a half years, while those at smaller organizations have been performing worse.

a graph showing usage of AI-assisted coding remained consistent

 The current state of Continuous Delivery and Continuous Integration 

This report adds to the existing strong base of evidence that shows embracing DevOps can help developers and organisations improve their software delivery performance. Using a broad range of DevOps technologies is associated with better performance, as is the specific use of CI/CD tools. In particular, the use of managed and self-hosted CI/CD tools together is associated with the best delivery performance results. 

A key factor underlying the observations in this report is the important role that organisations and team leaders play in guiding their teams to greater performance. Whether it is helping developers consolidate their workflows down to a single self-hosted and/or managed CI/CD tool, to prevent interoperability issues, or ensuring that newer developers are more familiar with DevOps in general as well as the practices used in the organisation. This also opens a position for organisations to implement and build best practices throughout their organisation to ensure that delivery performance is not dependent on a developer’s individual experience, and instead one that can leverage the talent of the most experienced developers to elevate the less experienced. 

Organisations and team leaders should also place developer experience at the centre of their plans for improving delivery performance. The benefits have been demonstrated, but they are unlikely to amount to much if developers ignore or sidestep these processes due to them negatively impacting their experience developing. Balancing what processes to shift-left and which to maintain as the responsibility of specific teams and developers is likely a more effective strategy for achieving improved developer and delivery performance.

The full report is free to access in our Research Space.

Do you want to dive deeper into DevOps or see how developers involved in DevOps affect your organisation or service? Get in touch and we will walk you through the process. 

About the Continuous Delivery Foundation 

The Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) serves as the vendor-neutral home of many of the fastest-growing projects for continuous integration/continuous  delivery (CI/CD). It fosters vendor-neutral collaboration between the industry’s top developers, end users and vendors to further CI/CD best practices and industry specifications. Its mission is to grow and sustain projects that are part of the broad and growing continuous delivery ecosystem. For more information on the CDF Please visit their website

About the author

Stathis Georgakopoulos, Product Marketing Manager

Always keen to see what’s next in the industry, Stathis is the Product Marketing Manager for SlashData, setting the table and running the marketing activities. He's our go-to guy for all things marketing and does not hide his love for content marketing and creating helpful content. 


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