2019 DevOps Reflections
Here at XebiaLabs, we love watching the DevOps landscape unfold. Not only do we love to stay ahead of the game, we also enjoy looking back at where we, and the DevOps industry, have come from. So, we asked our own DevOps experts this question: “What do you think were the most significant DevOps developments in 2019?”
The most significant DevOps development in 2019 was cloud adoption. While many analysts have mentioned this, we have actually seen its tremendous growth in our customer domain through a pattern of hybrid, multi-cloud strategy. This strategy has a twofold impact:
- The amount of technology is increasing rapidly, which drives the need for new tools, new technology, and new skills for learning these tools and technologies. Organizations spend a fair amount of time on this rather than application development.
- The wide variety of tools drives the conversation of standardization versus freedom to the engineering team. Organizations have to define a balance between central, repeatable building blocks and, at the same time, tool-and technology-specific building blocks.
This year, culturally, organizations are trying harder to promote DevOps practices. However, what I've seen is a lack of communication, which is a major pillar of successful DevOps. There are two ways that people are communicating in organizations.
There's the center of excellence approach, which is an authoritative hierarchy. Say you form a cloud team. For that team to do anything with cloud, they have to borrow from the center or excellence team, finagle around their restrictions, and do things their way. It's a "thou shalt" attitude.
A community of practice is the hip cool thing for cool kids! More exactly, they are people who share a passion or a profession, and by working together regularly, they are able to improve and learn more and more from each other collaboratively. It's social learning and teaching. This team has a flat organization.
Communities of practice shake things up a bit. However, centers of excellence are still the bread and butter of today's organizations, but can create a silo of knowledge. DevOps has gained some steam this year, but there's still a lot of work to be done to enter a more community of practice attitude and move away from centers of excellence.
Looking back at 2019, I see two major developments in DevOps.
- DevSecOps has become really mainstream over the last year. A major thing I've seen across the board is that we are no longer talking about how organizations "could" or "should" bake security into DevOps, but that they HAVE TO. Also, organizations have begun to shift right with security and bring it earlier into the delivery process - this is critical. Security companies have begun to position themselves as DevOps tools, not just security tools.
- The proliferation of DevOps tools within the past year has been crazy! The number of tools has grown so fast, it's hard to keep track of them all. We feel this every day - creating The Periodic Table of DevOps, we have 14 categories and 120 tools and it doesn't even include half the tools I know about now. Gartner has acknowledged this incredible growth as well - they are moving away from their Magic Quadrant because it covers too small a space in the DevOps universe - the whole toolchain is so massive that they need to create a market guide!
Even though DevOps is a popular topic and approach to software delivery, and every organization has a DevOps initiative, there's still a stark difference between implementing DevOps tools on one hand and bringing change to the people and process side on the other. The tools part is easy - it's simple to set up software. However, the people and process side is where the challenges happen. Implementing DevOps practices means that people have to change the way they work. This is hard for organizations - they have to change the way they charge work hours, they have to alter work structure, and they have to figure out how to manage a shifting in their day-to-day work.
Here's a a simple example: you have a release manager who is used to using a spreadsheet for organization, but then a new tool is implemented to help with release orchestration. For that release manager, letting go of the familiar spreadsheet and accepting the new tool is going to be an adjustment. This is a growing pain...but still a pain! Even if the implementation of the tool is easy, actual PEOPLE are forced to adjust how they work and find their new normal. Their job has changed.
The imbalance between ease of implementing DevOps tools and the actual impact on human beings and their day-to-day work is a real problem that has become more apparent in 2019. This is why the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform guides organizations to focus on their people and processes more than the implementation of new tools.
DevOps in 2019 has become even more mainstream. Every large organization is realizing that implementing DevOps practices is critical to their success, and they are figuring out their unique flavor of DevOps.
There are 2 sides to DevOps, in my opinion:
- The sexy side - This is all about delivering features and value to your customers through software. Netflix releases software every 3 seconds - this is a constant system of seamless customer-facing improvements.
- The operational side - This side of DevOps is non-customer facing. There's a high degree of complexity (legacy and architecture that have grown over many years) and many uninteresting applications that do a bunch of little things in order to actually run a business successfully.
The behind the scenes of big business is where all the angst is - the challenges. What large organizations have struggled with in 2019 is that they have been more concerned about the sexy side of DevOps and simultaneously more challenged by the operational side. It's crucial for organizations to realize that a DevOps transformation happens from the inside out.
Another interesting thing I've noticed is that the investment community is recognizing that DevOps is meaningful. Historically, investment businesses are in cloud or big data or something else more conceptual - they have invested in an idea in order to bring it to life. However, more recently, companies getting funded are doing practical things. These organizations are making money TODAY. Investors are realizing that software isn't going away - they are trying to figure out who are the enablers in the space and how can they get a return NOW.
- Try the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform for free
- Sign up for our webinar with Gene Kim and hear his DevOps 2020 predictions
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