How Will DevOps Change in 2021?

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How Will DevOps Change in 2021?

We go over some hard-learned lessons from 2020 and changes to the DevOps process that developers and organizations can expect to see in the coming year.

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To look at the future we need to consider the past. As a result of the pandemic there has been a need for industries to adapt and attempt to accelerate given the ever-changing circumstances. The need to adapt and accelerate will remain and DevOps will play a key role in both change and acceleration. Here are a number of changes that will occur in 2021:

  • Multi-cloud will continue at pace. Many organizations had a preference for a single cloud provider, like AWS, but over time and especially during 2020, that approach has changed to adopt a multi-cloud approach. Where the right cloud (tool) is picked for the job so that organizations take advantage of best-of-market innovations and capabilities as they appear. There can be concerns of cloud lock-in if an organization is all in on one cloud vendor. Additionally, there is a risk mitigation if there is a service outage in a cloud vendor that is your single provider. The result is a proliferation of cloud providers in an organization, resulting in a need for DevOps engineers to increase knowledge across providers.

  • Consolidation: If you look at the sheer volume and diversity of tools which make up the cloud native landscape it is overwhelming in terms of the options available. We will see a lot of consolidation here; there will be clear winners in various categories.

  • Mega cloud vendors: They will accelerate in their offerings of packaged Managed Services in order to help lift and shift existing workloads to the cloud. The recent announcements from AWS of Amazon Managed Service for Prometheus and Amazon Managed Service for Grafana make this evident. This will accelerate development teams' capability to launch and operate services much faster than in 2020.

  • API growth: APIs played a role in an organization's ability to respond to the pandemic during 2020. There will be a further growth in APIs, where heritage systems will be augmented with APIs, so that the capability/domain's reach can be extended, thereby avoiding the expensive and risky lift and shift to cloud. In addition, continued adoption of the microservices architectural patten will mean an explosion in different types of APIs, both synchronous (REST, GraphQL) and asynchronous (Kafka, Thrift, protobuf). To fight Conway's Law, microservices teams will need DevOps enablement and guidance, providing paved roads to get to production.

  • Hybrid cloud: If Kubernetes is the operating system for the cloud, what will the operating system be for the enterprise? Keep an eye on this space to see what emerges as OpenShift (backed by RedHat/IBM) and Pivotal Kubernetes Service (backed by VMWare/Dell) compete against the major cloud vendors who are leveling the playing field with AWS EKS Anywhere and Google's Anthos.

  • Organizations continue to be under pressure to unlock continuous innovation and want to remove all impediments to moving fast. As a result, more and more work will shift left into delivery teams. This will require the establishment of enablement teams to help educate and evangelize the development of capabilities that organizations should be adopting in order to move fast. For example, SecOps is still in its infancy but the pressure to innovate with appropriate guardrails will mean that there will be further investment in this area.

  • One size does not fit all: Cargo-culting of the cloud mega vendors' way of operating, and the technology they employ, does not fit every business. Adoption of this will be challenged. Only some aspects that work well for an organization will gain adoption. For example, some organizations will be happy to deploy a nano-service at the end of each sprint instead of a change to microservices with each code commit.

  • Complexity: WSJ reports that "The number of software apps deployed by large firms across all industries world-wide has increased 68% over the past four years, reaching an average of 129 apps per company." This results in an ever-increasing complexity to operate and maintain our systems in order to provide business continuity to our organizations.

  • GitOps becomes the norm: This will allow for organizations to have increased productivity through the enablement of continuous delivery and deployment. An organization will become more standardized, in terms of workflow, for both infrastructure and application changes with the associated tooling centered on Git. We should see an increase in the transparency of both application and configuration changes and as a result increased stability of our systems via revert/rollback and fork features.

  • Security: Security breaches and service outages will occur throughout 2021. To err is human and humans make mistakes. DevOps automation plays a key role in keeping an organization's systems up and healthy. Organizations will be judged on their transparency and responsiveness to address both the immediate problem as well as the longer-term root cause. Lessons are learned by all from public sharing of root causes. Expect to see DevOps engineers make headlines for the right and wrong reasons in 2021.

What Will Be the Impact of This Change?

Continued acceleration and adoption of cloud native technologies, with the appropriate guardrails in place, so that teams can innovate and adapt to the ever changing landscape as fast as possible. As the velocity of software delivery increases, this will force security to shift left and evolve into a continuous service, that both reports risk and provides recommendations for remediation as new services are built. Organizations want to focus on creating value faster and that requires a focus on building the best product, not reinventing the wheel with new infrastructure for every new product.

How Will Organizations Have to Adapt?

Adoption of successful DevOps is all about cultural change. During the pandemic organizations learned to go remote and to change and embrace new ways of working together. Online training initiatives will expand to upskill newly formed cross functional teams. Expect to see more reliance on SaaS products to augment new patterns of working together - these patterns are here to stay with everyone remote. Post-pandemic, as we move to a new-normal, we will have hybrid teams that are in-office and remote. A new model for work will build on both the old and new patterns to establish the best model to improve engagement and productivity.

Nobody knows what the future holds. The most important thing is to have an organizational culture which embraces continuous learning and is ready to adapt and embrace any change to survive and thrive.

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