Welcome to 2022! Let’s start this year’s blogging off with a bang, and point out that we are in the process of creating the biggest lock-in that we have ever had. And I do mean ever. Maybe the hardware lock-in of the old days where vendor A was incompatible with vendor B was worse, but at least that one we acknowledged when we signed the contract. This one is growing on us as I type.
Our DevOps environments in 2022 cannot run without what I like to call the “toolchain controller”: GitLab, Github CI/CD, Atlassian, CircleCI, Jenkins—whatever you are using. Like you need some form of faucet or flow control to make running water work, you need the CI/CD environment to make DevOps work.
You. Can’t. Live. Without. It. And just like any other vendor solution, CI/CD vendors are not going to be in a rush to help you move to a competitor. It won’t be easy or cheap to switch, largely because we are moving everything that might have been on a computer that once had developed code running on it into the toolchain.
Sooner or later, we’ll back off the kitchen sink definition of “What is DevOps?”, but I predict even then we will have to answer “…A lot of what we do,” because DevOps is, by definition, end-to-end. It is about the process and all the steps from design to production.
No matter how long or complex the process through which an organization’s CI/CD tool runs, a plan must be in place to replace it. A workable plan, not a check box plan. When Atlassian decided they preferred cloud-based customers, their customer base was shocked. Atlassian was wise enough to leave an option for customers who really had to have an on-site solution, but it is not difficult to imagine them phasing that option out, or to imagine another vendor dropping on-site support altogether. Some of the more competitive offerings in the space—GitLab springs to mind—are online-only already, making that option more appealing to other vendors as it’s now proven viable.
So, have a plan. This is more important, IMO, than cloud vendor lock-in. Cloud vendors are a small community, and each understands the others, so if push came to shove you could find help moving between the big three cloud vendors. There are dozens of DevOps master controller-type solutions in regular use, and some of them are not at all CI/CD solutions (application release orchestration tools and software infrastructure management tools are two areas doing CI/CD duty at some orgs, for example), so there is not going to be much help moving between them unless you manage to find a very specialized skill set that matches your desired move.
So, have a plan. Yes, I am indeed repeating myself. Know what you’re going to have to do before you have to do it. Include what to do if the master DevOps controller goes down. Because it will, sooner or later.
And keep rocking it. Protect your masterworks by protecting what builds them. And keep rolling out the tools your users need. It’s a new year—learn a new skill and use that to turn out even more cool stuff. I haven’t picked a new skill yet, but I’m taking that last bit of advice myself. And again, in the new year, thank you, for all those who don’t know to say it.