In 2019, DevOps is about execution, not cultural assimilation

By | December 31, 2018

2019 marks a decade since the term DevOps first entered the nomenclature and ever since, developers, operations teams and IT executives have struggled to both precisely define it and, more importantly, apply it to their organizations. Like most new ideas, DevOps went through a hype cycle in which evangelists exuberantly touted the concept as the solution to a host of IT woes. After failing to live up to exaggerated promises, DevOps slipped into seeming irrelevance as cynics trashed it for failing to be IT’s promised silver bullet. We have now entered a DevOps renaissance where a deeper understanding of its concepts and mature set of IT practices and tools have combined to turn DevOps principles into a reality of improved productivity, innovation and agility.

In many organizations, the cultural work to get developers and operations teams to accept and internalize new ways of working and collaborating is complete. Indeed, an interesting metric of DevOps maturity comes from DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) and its State of DevOps 2018 report in which it categorizes organizations based on their software delivery performance as defined by:

  • Deployment frequency: from multiple deploys per day to once per month
  • Lead time for changes: from less than an hour to between one and six months
  • Time to restore service: from less than one hour to between a week and a month
  • Change failure rate: from near 0 to 46-60 percent.

Using these metrics, DORA categories organizations on a scale from DevOps laggards to elites (think online service providers and cloud-native startups). Compared to the DevOps laggards, the elites have:

  • 46 times more frequent code deployments
  • Go from code commit to deployment 2,555 times faster
  • Have one-seventh the failure rate
  • Recover from incidents 2,604 times faster

A bigger question is, what form will that automation take, which leads me to the trends to watch in 2019 (if you want to call them predictions, fine, but I can’t make quantitative forecasts, hence I prefer the term “trends”).

  • Container usage continues to explode and displace VMs for more enterprise workloads as the critical pieces of container infrastructure, notably the image format, runtime engine and cluster orchestrator are now standardized.
  • Cloud container services (CaaS) like AWS EKS, Azure AKS and Google Cloud GKE become a preferred destination for new container infrastructure as more organizations see the value in outsourcing infrastructure management to a service provider.
  • Container-native microservice applications discover the power and efficiency of the service mesh as usage of Istio, Linkerd and Envoy takes off. Cloud service mesh products like the newly-introduced AWS App Mesh, Azure Service Fabric Mesh and Google Cloud Managed Istio will be particularly popular given their convenience and ability to tie into other cloud services.
  • Serverless functions like Lambda and Azure Functions spread from the cloud-native cognoscenti as enterprise developers embrace them as an integration layer for composite applications.
  • Organizations using automated CI/CD will turn to multi-cloud PaaS like Cloud Foundry and OpenShift. A significant advantage of PaaS stacks is their encapsulation of best practices and sophisticated automation tools into a system that is easy for DevOps organizations to implement and use.
  • DevOps teams will use open source for an increasing share of their application and automation script code base.

For details about each trend and some other supporting data, see my Tech Target article entitled “IT organizations anticipate DevOps evolution in 2019 — DevOps shifts around like ice cubes skate across water: quickly and always toward its outer limits.” The coming year should provide many examples of organizations significantly improving developer efficiency and reducing application cycle times via DevOps automation and by shifting to higher levels of abstraction using PaaS