2017 – A Good or Great Year For DevOps?

By Steve Burton
January 25, 2018

No matter how sound the plan, sometimes its always good to look at the results. I thought I’d do a bit of research to try and quantify the impact that DevOps initatives had in 2017.

I’ve tried to keep this blog as factual as possible, and have listed all the data sources I used. I plan to publish this blog every year so we can quantify over time the impact DevOps is having on our lives. Here we go…

DevOps Interest Passed ITIL

Well, DevOps got off to a good start in 2017 by passing ITIL for the first time in search interest. ITIL interest peaked in 2008 and has pretty much nose-dived since around 2010 when–wait for it–DevOps was born. I still remember my first DevOpsDays in Mountain View back in 2011. We’ve come along way baby!

Source: Google Trends

What Exactly Are People Searching For With DevOps?

Since Google knows the answer to everything, I thought I would ask it 3 basic questions around DevOps:

Source: Google Search

The first was simply “DevOps,” which auto-completes with terms of what everyone else searches for regarding DevOps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first term was “DevOps engineer,” along with tools, events, salaries and jobs. Next was “DevOps and”–which for me returned the biggest surprise. “DevOps and Security” is the most common search, or perhaps it’s the most asked question or challenge when it comes to DevOps?

Finally, asking “DevOps vs” told me what people compare the most with DevOps. Interestingly, “Site Reliability Engineer” (SRE) was the most common.

Using these findings from Google, I decided to focus my research on several of these areas to understand more.

DevOps Roles Became Mainstream in 2017

One good way to understand DevOps adoption is to count the number of people who have “DevOps” in their job title relative to other titles. Being British, I naturally wanted to see the adoption of DevOps in the UK relative to the US and the rest of the world. A simple LinkedIn query returned the following results:

Source: LinkedIn (Profile titles that contain the above roles)

The first thing you notice is that 50,057 professionals in the world had DevOps in their title. That’s 10X the volume of people (5,593) who had Site Reliability Engineer or SRE in their title. You can also see that SRE is really a US role that hasn’t made its way across the Atlantic yet like other roles.

The good news is that DevOps is no longer a niche role or title that people in the Bay Area just do. If DevOps adoption doubles in the next year, then the role will surpass that of Sys Admins and DBAs, making it reasonably “legit.” It will still have a way to go to compete with software engineers (~1.6m worldwide), but it’s always good to compare and contrast how people’s jobs and responsibilities are changing.

Yes, not all technical people hang out on LinkedIn so the above numbers aren’t 100% accurate. And yes, everyone who puts “DevOps” in their title doesn’t really do DevOps…more on that later 🙂

DevOps Engineers Got Paid Well in 2017

“DevOps engineer salary” was also a popular search term from Google. This got me wondering: “Do DevOps people earn more than their industry peers?” Believe it or not, it’s quite easy to get salary data these days from the likes of Glassdoor and Indeed.

Here are the average salaries for DevOps engineers and peer roles in San Francisco, New York and London:


RoleSan FranciscoNew YorkLondon
DevOps Engineer$143,957$121,106£62,423
Software Engineer$129,273$110,232£47,196
Sys Admin$105,655$93,626£46,318

Source: Glassdoor and Indeed

Believe it or not, on average, DevOps engineers do get paid more than SREs and software engineers, but only in San Francisco 🙂 Perhaps that’s to do with the war for talent, and the need for every startup and company in the Bay Area to have DevOps engineers. Interestingly, SREs on average were paid the most in New York and London.

Let’s now take a look at the job market with regards to DevOps, as salaries are often a result of demand and supply.

DevOps Job Market

I ran another simple query on Glassdoor to see how many jobs exist for DevOps and peer roles in the US:

Source: Glassdoor

Probably the biggest surprise was the lack of SRE jobs. Perhaps this has more to do with DevOps “hype” and specific initiatives that companies are kicking off internally. Someone exclaims “We need to do DevOps so let’s go hire a bunch of DevOps engineers,” and HR goes off and creates a bunch of DevOps job reqs.

It’s also great to see that DevOps has surpassed DBA jobs and will soon catch sysadmins and software engineers.

Another thing I hear a lot: “Only small Bay Area startups are doing/hiring DevOps.” Using Glassdoor, it’s possible to slice and dice those 31,655 DevOps jobs to see who really is hiring DevOps. This is what I found:

  • 9,017 (28%) of DevOps jobs based in California
  • 2,411 (8%) of DevOps jobs based in NY state
  • 64% of DevOps jobs are outside of traditional “tech” states

I also sliced the data by company size and this is what I got:

  • 0-200 employees – 10,787 DevOps jobs (34%)
  • 200 to 500 employees – 3,181 DevOps jobs (10%)
  • 501 to 1000 employees – 2,204 DevOps jobs (7%)
  • 1001 to 5000 employees – 4,650 DevOps jobs (15%)
  • 5001+ employees – 9,533 DevOps jobs (30%)

So the theory “Only small Bay Area startups are doing/hiring DevOps” is complete bollocks. The DevOps movement is real and it’s spreading everywhere.

DevOps Events & Conferences Growing Nicely

A cheeky glance at the number of DevOpsDays events shows this year over year growth:

2017 was a record year for DevOpsDays with 51 events worldwide.

Source: https://www.devopsdays.org/events/

Another common Google result for DevOps was “DevOps Enterprise Summit,” so I took a look at attendee growth for this event:

Source: https://events.itrevolution.com/us/ + Twitter to get the 2017 attendees

Again, you can see clear momentum in 2017 for DevOps in the enterprise. I believe also this year DOES had two events in both San Francisco and London, so demand is clearly increasing worldwide.

The Great & Not So Great DevOps Companies

So then, we get onto the political hot potato subject of who is “faking DevOps.” Having “DevOps” in your job title doesn’t necessarily mean you practice DevOps, right?

I decided to go back on LinkedIn and run a few queries:

  • Show me the companies with the most people that have “DevOps” in their title
  • Then show me how many people in those companies have “DevOps Engineer” in their title

Below is a selection of companies that are kicking ass and practicing DevOps and…a few companies who are being quite naughty with DevOps.


% RatioSanta's List
Capital One24618274%Good
EPAM Systems26419072%Good
Tata30016655%Slightly Naughty
Oracle1759051%Slightly Naughty
CapGemini26713350%Slightly Naughty
CA1131917%Bag of Coal Naughty

Record DevOps Coverage From Analysts in 2017

Another source of data to validate DevOps is the analyst community. Being familiar with both Gartner and Forrester, I was able to log on to their research portals and run a few queries, specifically to understand how many items of research they’ve written on DevOps since 2014. This is what I found:

Source: Gartner.com and Forrester.com

In short, both analysts are covering DevOps across the board. 2017 was a record year for DevOps research with well over 400 items of research by both Gartner and Forrester. Hype Cycle for DevOps from Gartner is definitely worth checking out, as is the Forrester Wave for Continuous Delivery and Release Automation by Forrester.

We’ve also seen the likes of DORA (https://devops-research.com) contribute massively to the DevOps community with their publications like “State of DevOps.” Awesome sauce.

So there you have it–on the whole DevOps had a great year in 2017. Pretty much every metric and area saw tremendous growth for DevOps, and the market shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. If you have any ideas on what other metrics or data can be used to measure the impact of DevOps I’d love to hear from you!




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