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DevOps Salary Report: IT back in demand as DevOps matures, spreads

Jaikumar Vijayan Freelance writer
devops salary report

IT salaries in the United States and Western Europe are increasing at a faster rate than in other regions of the world because of the relatively higher adoption and maturity of DevOps practices, according to new research.

Software vendor Puppet surveyed 4,600 IT professionals around the globe earlier this year for its 2016 DevOps Salary Report and found significant disparities in the salary growth for IT practitioners in the U.S. and Western Europe compared to counterparts in Asia, Latin America/Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

Salary increases map to maturing of practices

The biggest salary increases were in the U.S., where the most commonly reported salary range for engineers, developers, architects and other practitioners jumped from the $75,000 to $100,000 band in 2015 to between $100,000 to $125,000 in 2016.

The percentage of workers in this category earning more than $100,000 shot up from 47 percent last year to 58 percent during the same period. IT managers, or people with titles like director, vice-president and project manager, fared even better, with 43 percent saying they earned more than $150,000, compared with just 26 percent who said the same thing just one year ago.

At the same time, salaries among IT professionals in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe did not see similar gains, but instead skewed strongly toward the lower end of the salary range. More than 6 in 10 IT professionals in Asia, for instance, earned less than $25,000. “We continue to speculate that relative organizational maturity in DevOps practices, different economic contexts, and a higher concentration of DevOps adoption in Western Europe and the United States drive these trends in salary disparity,” Puppet's report said.

Based on the data, much of the overall salary band increase in the U.S. for IT professionals was likely the result of substantial salary increases for software and systems engineers, according to Puppet. DevOps engineers, architects and software developers, systems developers and engineers are more likely than not making more than $100,000.

The survey, in fact, found that 64 percent of U.S. DevOps engineers and 61 percent of software developers and engineers reported a salary of more than $100,000. The latest findings “align with past data suggesting that organizations with the most mature DevOps practices are more likely to pay IT operations employees $100,000 or more,” Puppet said.

DevOps scaling out creates demand for talent

The data confirms the strong demand for DevOps professionals as a growing number of organizations begin implementing the development model in their organizations, said Jay Lyman, an analyst with the 451 Group.

“We've seen DevOps spread beyond [web] companies and bleeding-edge enterprises to a more mainstream enterprise audience that includes almost all major verticals."

Organizations in the financial services, insurance, telecommunications, retail, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare and the public sector have all begun implementing DevOps processes, Lyman said.

“The move by more enterprises to adopt DevOps technology and methodology means continued, growing demand for DevOps practitioners and leaders,” Lyman noted. In turn, this means more competition among employers for the same pool of talent, which drives up salaries.

IT professionals in DevOps environments tend to get higher salaries partly because they also tend to have more responsibilities that span development and IT operations, he said

DevOps has forced organizations to be faster and more responsive to remain competitive. The trend is shifting management and leadership thinking away from viewing IT operations in terms of total cost of ownership and more toward ROI, Lyman said. 

“In essence, organizations are less frequently asking 'how much will IT operations cost us' before considering 'how much will IT operations make us' with a DevOps approach.”

In its report, Puppet noted how companies that have improved their entire product lifecycle by adopting the technical practices, lean management style and cultural norms of DevOps were likely to have much faster delivery times and overall quality.

High-performing organizations deployed 200 times more frequently than low performers, and had lead times that were 2,555 times faster, Puppet said in the report. High-performing organizations also had 24 times faster recovery times and failure rates that were three times lower than those of the low-performing organizations.

“DevOps is changing the culture,” says Robert Stroud, analyst with Forrester Research. “For many organizations, agile within development has been throttled with operational requirements for production excellence."

“Implementing a DevOps approach can automate all aspects of the tool chain and SDLC, allowing for better testing and transition to production.”

The increasing adoption of DevOps is leading to a mandate for barely available new skills in areas like automation and delivery of applications with speed and agility, Stroud said. “This skills shortage in DevOps is driving salaries as employers look to attract and retain talent.”

DevOps talent a business priority

Tim Zonca, vice president of marketing at Puppet, said the main takeaway from this year’s salary survey is that hiring, retaining and managing the best IT and ops teams is a bigger priority for businesses than ever.

“DevOps professionals are in high demand, and the accompanying salaries prove it,” he said.  The data shows that companies are investing in people who have the skill sets that can make IT a strong, competitive advantage.

“Because software is the driver of modern business, organizations are adopting DevOps practices to enable a more efficient path to a faster delivery of better-quality software. So, people with DevOps skills are going to find more opportunities and jobs with higher salaries today and in the future.”

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