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DevOps in practice: A multiple case study of five companies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-230
Number of pages14
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Context: DevOps is considered important in the ability to frequently and reliably update a system in operational state. DevOps presumes cross-functional collaboration and automation between software development and operations. DevOps adoption and implementation in companies is non-trivial due to required changes in technical, organisational and cultural aspects. Objectives: This exploratory study presents detailed descriptions of how DevOps is implemented in practice. The context of our empirical investigation is web application and service development in small and medium sized companies. Method: A multiple-case study was conducted in five different development contexts with successful DevOps implementations since its benefits, such as quick releases and minimum deployment errors, were achieved. Data was mainly collected through interviews with 26 practitioners and observations made at the companies. Data was analysed by first coding each case individually using a set of predefined themes and thereafter perform a cross-case synthesis. Results: Our analysis yielded some of the following results: (i) software development team attaining ownership and responsibility to deploy software changes in production is crucial in DevOps. (ii) toolchain usage and support in deployment pipeline activities accelerates the delivery of software changes, bug fixes and handling of production incidents. (ii) the delivery speed to production is affected by context factors, such as manual approvals by the product owner (iii) steep learning curve for new skills is experienced by both software developers and operations staff, who also have to cope with working under pressure. Conclusion: Our findings contributes to the overall understanding of DevOps concept, practices and its perceived impacts, particularly in small and medium sized companies. We discuss two practical implications of the results.


  • Agile, Continuous deployment, Development, DevOps, Operations

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland