A year in review: 2021 CI/CD trends through the eyes of Buddy

2021 wasn't really different to 2020 - we all stayed home, spent more time online, the services and websites we love had to handle more traffic and deliver more features to keep us going in isolation. For developers, this year meant more coding, more opportunities to innovate, more deployments of their apps to production.

And how was 2021 for Buddy? Seeing the increased demand for deployments from developers all around the world, we worked tirelessly to keep up our promise of bringing you “the easiest CI/CD tool ever” by polishing our current feature set, introducing new features our community asked for, and constantly advocating for the DevOps mindset.

While this is business as usual for Buddy, we wanted to kick 2022 off with something different: a summary that will bring value to the community, and give us a better understanding of the way you use Buddy CI/CD to automate your workflows.

We created this report after analyzing 9,634 accounts registered in 2021 that exhibited consistent activity throughout the year. We examined their habits, tools, frameworks, programming languages, and the overall shape of their delivery workflows. We were curious to see how popular certain integrations, services, and actions were, and how this popularity relates to the current trends in the IT world.

Note: This report covers cloud accounts only.

Join us in this review of 2021, which gives you an exclusive look at the current state of the DevOps culture through the eyes of Buddy.

Part 1: Git providers

GitHub vs The World

The first thing we were curious about were the Git providers, as pointing the CI tool to where your code lives is the first thing any user does before diving into the automation realm.

GitHub's dominance in the world of Git hosting has been a fact for many moons now, and with the backing of the behemoth that Microsoft is, for many developers GitHub became synonymous with Git.

Considering this, it's still interesting to see that the two other commercial providers – Bitbucket and GitLab – add up to less than a half of GitHub's integrations. Is it because of the limitations of the free accounts for teams that were present in GitHub until April 2020? Development teams that needed private repositories had to get on a paid plan to hide their repositories. This might've led them to other providers that do not charge for this feature.

We're also happy to see our own Git hosting attract over 6% of users who appreciate the benefits of trusting all of your code with a single provider that can both host it and provide an automation framework.

Git providers in Buddy
Chart of Git providers in Buddy

With a mono-provider setup being the dominant form, there are over 8% of workspaces that use 2 or 3 providers in their setup.

Mono vs multi providers
Chart of Mono vs multi-providers

Part 2: Commits

Strength in numbers

For some, yet another year of software development in the pandemic-influenced reality meant much more work. But did that work translate into the number of commits users pushed to their repositories?

Note: The chart below is the monthly average for the examined accounts.

30% of accounts push up to 50 commits per month. This is a steady number which shows that Buddy is the to-go solution for freelance developers. It also covers accounts on the trial period and free plans with the execution limit.

A third of all accounts push up to 100 commits a month, which is the biggest share in the chart. Checking the domains of the workspace owners, we can see that a majority of them are digital and marketing agencies and software houses. As the companies grow in size, this scales up to 250 commits (23.2%) and 500 monthly commits (10.6%) a month, ultimately reaching the top 2.5% of accounts that push more than 500 commits on average.

Number of commits in active workspaces
Pie chart of number of commits in active workspaces

Part 3: Pipeline trigger modes

Automation to the fullest

The way pipelines are triggered defines the character of the workflow in Buddy. Here is the general pattern:
  • pipelines run on a push to the selected branch (55.8%) are used for automatic tests and deployments to development environments
  • manual executions (38.4%) are used for release to stage and production environments
  • recurrent executions (5.9%) are used for tests run on time intervals for tasks such as backups, overnight migrations, or scheduled checks.

We're happy to see that more than half of the new users are eager to use automation to the fullest and have their pipelines triggered whenever they edit code in their repositories. This brings them much closer to the holy grail of automation: Continuous Deployment, in which everything – from the first merge request to production deployment – is fully automated.

Preferred pipeline trigger mode
Pie chart of preferred pipeline trigger mode

Part 4: Deployment workflows

Keep calm and follow the protocol

Deployment automation is the main reason why companies add CI/CD tools to their stack. With deployments being the most popular among all Buddy actions, it's interesting to examine the ways in which developers deliver software.

The top spot is occupied, not unexpectedly, by the SFTP/SSH combo (31.12%), which allows you to transfer files to a server using a secure connection and then connect to that server respectively. It proves that the days when deployment meant uploading some HTML and a couple of new images to the server are way over, and running post-deployment tasks, such as database migrations, are an inherent part of every developer's workflow.

That being said, still more than 13% of all deployments are made over the less-secure FTP protocol - a number that gets lower with every year.

The real deal, however, is Docker, with almost a quarter of accounts having it in their stack. This means that containerization has long ago ceased to be a one-season wonder and is now a standard in an industry where apps and websites must run on an infinite number of configurations, devices, and operating systems. Pairing Docker with SSH and webhooks means that our users exploit automation to the fullest, creating workflows that automatically build, push, pull, and run images on certain events. We love that.

Kubernetes is still reasonably new to the party at 2.28%, but we have strong grounds to believe that it will gain more popularity as more developers decide to scale their applications to support the ever-growing influx of users.

Popular Deployment workflows
Bar graph of Popular Deployment workflows

Part 5: Integrations

From GitHub to AWS on one ticket

When it comes to the most popular third-party integrations, it's not shocking to see GitHub leading the pack (31.76%) as version control is the cornerstone of delivery automation, with Bitbucket (10.75%) and GitLab (6.31%) taking the 3rd and the 6th place respectively.

Slack, the silver medalist in the integration popularity ranking (15.02%), proves that communication is the key when introducing the DevOps culture to the company.

When it comes to cloud/VPS providers, AWS and DigitalOcean are featured in over 16% of the workspaces. Other managed services such as Heroku, Netlify, or Firebase place lower, which indicates that the modern-day developer likes to stick with a one-for-all solution rather than rely on more specialized, managed services. We shall see how this trend shifts over time.

Popular integrations
Bar graph of Popular integrations

Part 6: Cloud providers

Race to the clouds

Just a quick glance at the chart tells us how much of a behemoth AWS is, leading the pack of our top four cloud services with a massive 52%. This includes all actions that trigger and deploy to Amazon Web Services, such as deployments to S3 buckets or provisioning serverless instances with AWS Lambda.

What's interesting, however, is that over a third of workspaces with a cloud integration use DigitalOcean, a provider that emphasizes the word 'simple' in their communication almost as much as we do. Perhaps developers really do want to keep things simple?

The bronze medal goes to the Google Cloud Platform (11.4%) with Microsoft Azure at 3.1%, a number that should grow as more developers discover our Windows builds.

Popular cloud providers
Pie chart of cloud providers

Part 7: JavaScript

Different flavors of JS

JavaScript continues to be the cornerstone of modern web development, dominating the build actions in Buddy (we shall cover the tech landscape in detail in later reports).

Vanilla JS is featured in one-third of all analyzed workspaces. The second place goes to Node.js, the personal favorite of all backend devs, with React.js securing a healthy 15.9% of all JS frameworks.

What's interesting is the growing popularity of Vue.js, which is only a couple of points behind React - and even surpasses it should we add Angular and Nuxt to the batch. Is this a new trend in the frontend industry? Time will tell.

JavaScript frameworks chart
Pie chart of JavaScript frameworks

Part 8: Services

All your database are belong to us

Attaching services to actions is something that no Buddy user overlooks. And, as it turns out, it's all about databases: out of the 10 most popular services, 6 are database-related with MySQL (37.68%), Postgres (33.33%), and Redis (26.09%) occupying the podium (it's worth noting that these numbers do not constitute 100% since a majority of users have more than one database in their workflow).

Selenium, the staple of browser automation tools, constitutes over 10 percent of the most popular services, with the Chrome variant seizing almost 4 times more users than Firefox. Not much of a surprise.

Almost 16 percent of the scrutinized workspaces used a “custom” integration, which allows users to tailor the environment exactly to their needs. It makes us happy to see that users pair Buddy with their custom tools to create unique workflows – just as we meant it to be.

Services used to create application environment
Bar graph of Services used to create application environment

Part 9: Notifications

No slacking around

The main principle of DevOps is that everybody on the team is involved in the project: from regular devs to team leaders, project managers, QA, accounts, to support teams. And the key to achieving that is proper communication.

Buddy lets teams send automatic notifications on various events, such as finished builds and deployments with almost every popular messaging service, massively improving the information flow in the company.

From the plethora of messaging apps, it's Slack that appears in almost half of all accounts, securing its position as the to-go service in the web development community. Perhaps it's the ease of use that goes along nicely with Buddy? Whatever the answer is, its dominance is significant and doesn't seem to shake at all.

The second on the list is the good old email, with over a third of accounts using it in their pipelines. With the filtering tools, modern email services deliver, however, it's not hard to imagine a nicely tailored communication flow in which developers resolve tasks directly from the inbox, keeping an eye out for the latest changes in their projects.

It's also worth noting that Telegram notifications are used in 8.3% of workspaces. While this might be still a relatively small number compared to Slack and email, we're predicting that the adoption of this particular messaging app will continue to grow, as users appreciate the privacy and flexibility it delivers.

The new player on the list is Microsoft Teams, that's gained considerable traction when the pandemic struck as it's been adopted by many organizations and businesses.

Popular messaging channels for pipeline notifications
Pie chart of Popular messaging channels for pipeline notifications

Part 10: Mobile

Buddy on-the-go

With mobile devices responsible for over a half of all web traffic, mobile development is a must-have in the modern web development world.

As iOS build actions entered the open beta stage in August, we were curious to see how many of you came to Buddy for some Apple action, and how this number looks in comparison to the well-established crowd of Android developers.

It turns out that the iOS actions, despite being in open beta for only 3 months, are making up almost 25% of all mobile-oriented actions users add to their pipelines. We're hoping to expand and improve this action set to enable iOS developers to be successful in the ever-competitive and restrictive environment that is the App Store.

Mobile development actions
Pie chart of Mobile development actions

Part 11: Configuration mode

Easy way vs Jenkins way

Turning DevOps to NoOps has been our guideline since the very first iteration of Buddy back in 2016. This is why the main mode of interacting with Buddy is through its graphical interface, which allows developers to effortlessly automate workflows without referring to the documentation every 5 minutes.

We do realize, however, that this approach can prove too radical for engineers who cut their teeth on traditional DevOps tools that require scripting the whole process manually top to bottom – and that's why we allow configuration-as-code as well.

That being said, an overwhelming majority of users choose the GUI over YAML, which proves that simplicity and ease of use is the main selling point of Buddy.

GUI vs YAML
Pie chart of GUI vs YAML