The software development process is not easy to track and measure. There are often multiple teams working on an application. Each team working on one small part of the project might even be located around the world. To manage such a diverse and agile process, your company needs a reliable set of metrics to track the development of your application across all of your teams. This is where DORA comes in. After six years of research, the DevOps Research and Assessment, aka DORA, team pinpointed four key metrics that can be used to illuminate a software development team’s DevOps performance.
The key data points are as follows:
This metric refers to how often an organization successfully releases to production. Each team will define success differently, which means deployment frequency can measure many things. For example, how often code is deployed to production or how often it is released to users. Top performers aim for continuous deployment throughout each day.
The amount of time it takes a commit to get into production defines this metric. By tracking this, engineering and DevOps managers can learn whether or not their teams’ cycle time is healthy and, more importantly, if they can handle a sudden surge in requests. Similarly to development frequency, lead time for changes establishes the pace or velocity of software delivery.
Changes during development can cause problems from rollbacks to failed deployments. Regardless of the root cause, all failures count towards the Change Failure Rate or the percentage of deployments or changes that cause a failure in production. With robust monitoring and implementation, this metric can be improved.
When there is an outrage or other incident, service needs to be restored as quickly as possible. Time to Restore Service refers to how long it takes an organization to recover from a production failure. This lets managers know how much time is being diverted to tasks that do not contribute to the value of the business. They can then better understand when and where to invest in the infrastructure to support their dev teams.
Improving your DORA metrics means implementing specific processes and procedures to your development cycles and pipelines.
If you want to improve your DORA metrics, your pipeline needs to be in top shape. There are several ‘must-haves.’ The pipeline must-haves include Automation, Stages, Representative local environments, Infrastructure as Code, Security, and Compliance.
Fully automating all of your software development pipelines is the first task in improving your DORA metrics. Breaking your pipeline into Stages of Build, Package, Test, Deploy will also allow you to track and improve your metrics. Testing is key to improving any metric. And testing in a Representative Local Environment will enable you to find bugs early and fix them quickly. Implementing proper security and compliance protocols helps put procedures in place to improve your pipeline and metrics.
Your development process and pipeline must integrate availability, and your application must collaborate with it. It is associated with reliability, fault tolerance, and disaster recovery. Availability means your services are always ready when needed. While it isn’t possible to have everything work 100% of the time, your business needs to reduce the impact of failures and the mean time to resolution (MTTR).
Automating your infrastructure helps improve your DORA metrics. The benefits are numerous, including improvements to process reliability, change management, and disaster recovery. These will have a direct effect on your metrics.
If you understand what’s going on in your system, you’ll be able to debug, diagnose, troubleshoot, and fix it fast. This means implementing Observability into the system. It is not simply enough to monitor your system; you must understand it. Monitoring is a crucial component of Observability, but you must also have defined metrics, log centralizations, and traceability.
If your company’s goal is to develop proven applications at a consistent speed to end-users, you need to establish and track specific benchmarks. DORA metrics have become the industry standard benchmarks. They can be used to make your process more reliable and efficient. Tracking these metrics will not only reveal whether or not your development teams have improved, but they will also help you drive value back to your company.
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