University of Oulu

Lucy Ellen Lwakatare, Terhi Kilamo, Teemu Karvonen, Tanja Sauvola, Ville Heikkilä, Juha Itkonen, Pasi Kuvaja, Tommi Mikkonen, Markku Oivo, Casper Lassenius, DevOps in practice: A multiple case study of five companies, Information and Software Technology, Volume 114, 2019, Pages 217-230, ISSN 0950-5849,

DevOps in practice : a multiple case study of five companies

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Author: Lwakatare, Lucy Ellen1; Kilamo, Terhi2; Karvonen, Teemu1;
Organizations: 1M3S, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
3Department of Computer Science, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2019
Publish Date: 2021-06-25


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

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Series: Information and software technology
ISSN: 0950-5849
ISSN-E: 1873-6025
ISSN-L: 0950-5849
Volume: 114
Pages: 217 - 230
DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2019.06.010
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work was supported by TEKES as a part of the N4S project (2014-2017) of DIMECC (Digital, Internet, Materials and Engineering Co-Creation).
Copyright information: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license