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RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report
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New DevOps Trends: 2016 State of the Cloud Survey

New DevOps Trends: 2016 State of the Cloud Survey

RightScale conducted its fifth annual State of the Cloud Survey in January 2016 with a special focus on the latest DevOps trends. The overarching trend is that DevOps adoption is growing, especially in the enterprise, with a strong increase in Docker and the use of multiple tools being commonplace.

The survey is the largest on the use of DevOps in the cloud and with respondents representing actual buyers and users of configuration management and container tools. Their answers provide a useful perspective on the state of DevOps today.

The survey asked 1,060 IT professionals about their adoption and use of DevOps tools. Forty-two percent of the respondents represented enterprises with more than 1,000 employees. The margin of error is 3.07 percent.

We highlight several new findings from the survey in this blog post. For the complete survey results, download the RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report: DevOps Trends.

DevOps Is Growing, Especially in the Enterprise

  • DevOps adoption increased from 66 percent in 2015 to 74 percent in 2016.
  • DevOps adoption is strongest in the enterprise (81 percent of enterprises adopting DevOps compared to 70 percent in SMBs).
  • Enterprises are adopting DevOps from the bottom up: Adoption is by projects or teams (29 percent) and business units or divisions (31 percent) vs. company-wide (21 percent).

Docker Usage Doubles While Chef and Puppet Are Neck and Neck

  • Overall, Chef, Puppet, and Docker are the top 3 DevOps tools (32 percent, 32 percent, and 27 percent, respectively).
  • Docker is the fastest growing DevOps tool, with adoption more than doubling year-over-year from 13 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2016.

DevOps Users Use Multiple Tools

  • Less than half (43 percent) of companies are using a configuration tool such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, or Salt.
  • Use of multiple configuration tools is more common (25 percent) than a single configuration tool (18 percent).
  • 67 percent of companies using Chef or Puppet also use the other tool.
  • Configuration tools are often used with Docker; 80 percent of Docker users also leverage at least one configuration tool.

Container Adoption Is Maturing, Especially in Enterprises

  • Enterprises are using containers more than SMBs. 29 percent of enterprises have workloads running in containers versus 24 percent of SMBs, and 41 percent of enterprises are experimenting as compared to 33 percent of SMBs.

Docker Seeing Greatest Adoption in Europe, with Tech Companies, and with Enterprises

  • Evaluating Docker adoption across different geographies, industries, and roles, RightScale found that current use of Docker is heaviest among tech organizations (32 percent), enterprises (29 percent), and developers (28 percent). Use of Docker in Europe (34 percent) is also well above average.

Significant Interest in Containers on Bare Metal

  • Containers are currently being deployed primarily on virtual machines (29 percent) versus bare metal (12 percent).
  • There is significant interest in deploying containers on bare metal with 24 percent of respondents having plans to do so in the future.
  • Most containers are built using traditional Linux distributions such as Ubuntu (43 percent), CentOS (39 percent), and Red Hat (37 percent). CoreOS (12 percent) is the most widely adopted of the minimalist operating systems, which are designed specifically for containers.

Biggest Challenge with Containers Is Lack of Experience

  • For respondents who are not currently using containers, lack of experience was by far the top challenge (39 percent).
  • The top challenges cited by respondents who are already using containers were security (29 percent) and immature technology (29 percent).

Container Focus in 2016 Is Education and Experience

  • The top container initiative in 2016 will be getting more educated (62 percent), followed by conducting more experiments with containers in dev/test (44 percent) and production (28 percent), as well as expanding container use in dev/test (28 percent).

DevOps Trends: Key Findings

DevOps Is Growing, Especially in the Enterprise

In the 12 months since the last State of the Cloud Survey, we’ve seen strong growth in DevOps adoption. 74 percent of respondents are now adopting DevOps up from 66 percent last year.

2016 vs 2015 DevOps Adoption from RightScale DevOps Trends Report

In 2016, the number climbs to 81 percent of enterprises adopting DevOps while only 70 percent of SMBs say they are adopting it.
Enterprise vs SMB DevOps Adoption from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report

Enterprises are adopting DevOps from the bottom up, with business units or divisions (31 percent) and projects and teams (29 percent) most likely to be adopting DevOps. Only 21 percent of enterprises have a company-wide DevOps initiative.

Enterprise DevOps Adoption from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report.

Docker Usage Doubles While Chef and Puppet Are Neck and Neck

In 2016, the use of DevOps tools increased significantly. Chef and Puppet remain the most commonly used DevOps tools at 32 percent each (Chef is up from 28 percent, and Puppet is up from 24 percent in 2015). The biggest gains year-over-year came from Docker, which more than doubled in use (13 percent to 27 percent). Ansible also saw strong gains, doubling from 10 percent to 20 percent adoption.
DevOps Tools Use YoY from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report

DevOps Users Use Multiple Tools

Less than half (43 percent) of companies are using a configuration tool such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, or Salt. However, companies that do use configuration tools are likely to use more than one tool. Twenty-five percent use two or more configuration tools compared to 18 percent using a single tool.
Number of Configuration Tools Used from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report.

Chef and Puppet are frequently used together: 67 percent of organizations using Chef also use Puppet, and similarly 67 percent of those using Puppet also use Chef.
Many Companies Using Puppet and Chef from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report

Docker is not replacing configuration tools but rather being used in addition to those tools. A vast majority of Docker users (80 percent) are also using at least one of the configuration tools. Among Chef users, 45 percent also use Docker, and among Puppet users 43 percent also use Docker.
Use of Docker and other Configuration Tools from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report

Container Adoption Is Maturing, Especially in Enterprises

Docker adoption has moved well beyond the experimentation phase. Perhaps surprisingly, enterprises are even further ahead in deploying workloads on Docker with 29 percent running workloads in containers (development only for 8 percent and production workloads for 21 percent). Very few enterprises (8 percent) have no plans to use Docker.

Container Usage Among Enterprises and SMBs from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report

Docker Seeing Greatest Adoption in Europe, with Tech Companies, and with Enterprises

RightScale organized respondents by various cohorts and found that groups that are using Docker most are technology companies (32 percent), enterprises (29 percent), and developers (28 percent). Europe is the region most heavily using Docker today (34 percent), while Asia has the largest percentage of respondents who plan to use Docker (25 percent use today and 42 percent plan to use).

Docker Adoption Rates from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report.

Significant Interest in Containers on Bare Metal


Today containers are primarily being deployed on virtual machines (29 percent) versus bare metal (12 percent). However, there is significant interest in deploying containers directly on bare metal with 24 percent planning to do so.

Containers on VMs and Bare Metal from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report

Biggest Challenge with Containers Is Lack of Experience


For respondents who were experienced using containers, the most significant challenges were security (29 percent), technology not mature (29 percent), and lack of experience using containers (25 percent). For respondents who are not currently using containers, lack of experience was by far the top challenge (39 percent).

Container Challenges by Maturity from RightScale 2016 DevOps Trends Report.


Container Focus in 2016 Is Education and Experience

The top container initiative in 2016 will be getting more educated (62 percent), followed by conducting more experiments with containers in dev/test (44 percent) and production (28 percent), as well as expanding container use in dev/test (28 percent).

Container Initiatives in 2016 from RightScale DevOps Trends Report

Summary: DevOps Adoption Hits Its Stride

The 2016 State of Cloud Survey shows that interest in DevOps is increasing, while the adoption of Docker containers is spreading like wildfire. Unlike many previous technology shifts where enterprises adopt more slowly, enterprises are actually leading the way and adopting Docker more quickly than smaller organizations.

Chef and Puppet remain the most commonly used DevOps tools with Docker nipping at their heels, but Docker could soon have broader adoption if a significant number of organizations that say they plan to use it follow through on those plans. However, Docker adoption may not be at the expense of other DevOps tools. The survey shows that organizations are not taking a “choose one” approach; rather, many organizations use more than one configuration tool, and the vast majority of Docker users also use at least one configuration tool.

Many Docker watchers have also posited that virtualization vendors could also be at risk if users put Docker on bare metal. That prediction has not played out yet, but the survey shows that more Docker users may be skipping the VM layer in the future.

While interest in Docker is broad, Europe is currently ahead of North America in adoption, while Asia is poised to increase usage. As interest continues to grow, companies are under pressure to gain expertise in Docker. In fact, companies cite lack of experience as one of the largest challenges, and as a result, the biggest container initiatives in 2016 will be to increase their level of education and experience.

Download the RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report: DevOps Trends for the complete survey results.

Use of Charts and Data In This Report

We encourage the re-use of data, charts, and text published in this report under the terms of this Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to share and make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute the RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report: DevOps Trends as stipulated in the terms of the license.

RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report