This blog is part 3 of a series of 7 on the results of our inaugural research report The State of DevOps in Financial Services. 

Earlier this year Contino reached out to IT professionals in financial services to gain a greater understanding of innovation and DevOps in the industry.

We received responses from 165 professionals, ranging from engineers to CTOs working at a range of financial services organizations from FinTech startups and investment funds to insurance firms and the biggest global banks.

This culminated in our research report The State of DevOps in Financial Services.

For an introduction to our findings, check out an earlier article here. This blog series will take a closer at each chapter of the report in turn. 

Today, we tackle the core issue of DevOps maturity and, specifically, what the difference is between mature and immature DevOps practices. 

DevOps Maturity and Software Delivery

In financial services, on the whole, DevOps maturity is middling.

The majority of respondents (58%) rate their DevOps maturity two (27%) or three (31%) out of five.

Only 14% gave themselves full marks – the tribe of DevOps Ninjas is small! A similar number (13%) rated themselves only one out of five – down in the DevOps dumps.

Most organizations, then, report fairly middling DevOps capability, with a few companies ahead of the curve and a few lagging behind.

DevOps Ninjas versus DevOps Laggards

When I investigated the difference between the 14% of Ninjas and the 13% of Laggards some interesting facts were revealed. Here are my top discoveries by topic.

Transformation Drivers

Ninjas: The main drivers for transformation are “rising customer expectations” (45%) and “increasing the rate of innovation” (44%). Lowest on the priority list was “reducing costs” (29%) and “increasing competition” (27%)

Laggards: The main drivers are “reducing costs” (38%) as well as “rising customer expectations” (38%). The lowest was “increasing the rate of innovation” (29%).

Time to Market

Ninjas: The majority (40%) can deliver a new software product in three months or less.

Laggards: The majority (36%) deliver a new software product in six to twelve months.

Barriers to Software Deployment

Ninjas: The biggest barriers to software deployment at speed and scale are compliance, regulation and compliance concerns (47%) and changing requirements (47%). Environment bottlenecks is the least-cited barrier (20%).

Laggards: Provisioning infrastructure is by far the biggest barrier to deploying software (71%).

The Cloud versus On-Prem

Ninjas: The majority are on the public cloud (36%), closely followed by on-premises (35%) and private cloud (29%).

Laggards: The vast majority are on-premises (61%), followed by public (20%) and private (19%).

Organization Size

Ninjas: The majority of respondents work for organizations of under 100 employees.

Laggards: The majority of respondents work for organization with over 10,000 employees.

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There’s a significant difference between these two groups of respondents.

Those with greater DevOps maturity are driven by subtly different external factors than DevOps laggards. Meeting customer expectations is their first priority, followed closely by increasing the rate of innovation. Costs and competition are lowest on the list of drivers. If you are customer- and innovation-focused, why should competition and cost be your first concern? Customer-obsessive innovation is the best way of seeing off competition and making money.

For DevOps laggards, by contrast, the highest priority is reducing costs and the lowest is increasing the rate of innovation. This is a mindset that will not lead to any kind of fundamental transformation and is no doubt reflected in their self-reported DevOps maturity.

Respective DevOps maturity is clearly mirrored in respondents’ ability to release quickly. Twice as high a percentage of DevOps Ninjas can release new software in three months or less than DevOps Laggards, most of whom need 6-12 months. The Laggards’ biggest barrier to faster releases is “provisioning infrastructure”. Given that 65% of workloads are on-premises it seems to be the case that lack of public cloud is a major bottleneck to DevOps practices that would then result in faster software deployments.

For DevOps Ninjas the biggest barriers are more complex: security, compliance and testing. There are always barriers to deployment and once problems of infrastructure have been remedied (only 27% found it to be a major barrier) then ensuring functionality, security and compliance rise up the scale of importance.

What is stopping greater use of the public cloud? For the DevOps Laggards the biggest barriers are too many competing priorities and a lack of investment. Too busy and not enough money! This suggests that cloud is not a priority for the leadership, with not enough funds nor attention being given to warrant a push up the list of priorities. For those with already-advanced DevOps practices the problem shifts towards the structural, with a lack of overall strategy and a lack of agility being the main barriers. It’s a question of how you move to the public cloud, rather than whether or not to move.

Lastly, analysing the results by organization size is revealing. Mature DevOps practices are largely the preserve of organizations with under 100 employees, while the least mature practices are found predominantly in organizations with over 10,000 employees.


We can imagine that our typical DevOps Laggard works for a large enterprise that’s largely on-prem, struggling to reduce costs and keep the lights on, with relatively infrequent releases of new software.

Our DevOps Ninja, on the other hand, works for a more nimble, customer-focused SME that has access to public cloud resources and is releasing new products often, with the main challenges then shifting to ensuring security and compliance.



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Ben Saunders

VP, Consulting EMEA

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