DevOps Deeper Dive: DevOps Arms Race Heats Up

A massive amount of capital is pouring into DevOps companies as organizations finally begin to realize the extent to which they depend on software. While Marc Andreesen may have penned his famous “Software Is Eating the World” opinion piece way back in 2011, it’s only now that many organizations are starting to realize they are software companies that also manufacture something or specialize in the delivery of some type of digital service.

The most recent example of a massive injection of capital into the DevOps space came in the form of a $268 million investment in GitLab earlier this month. That move followed the acquisition of SignalFx, provider of an application performance management (APM) platform, by Splunk in a deal valued at just over $1 billion.

Arguably, DevOps vendors have been gearing up for this fight for the better part of the last decade. Way back in 2014, New Relic picked up $115 million after going public. Three years later, Cisco Systems acquired AppDynamics for $3.7 billion.

Now all these companies are racing to build the platform through which organizations of all sizes will transform themselves into true software companies by embracing best DevOps practices infused with large amounts of artificial intelligence (AI).

DevOps as a concept has been around now for the better part of a decade. However, it’s only now that organizations are embracing DevOps across the entire application development life cycle. Previously, organizations embraced DevOps within isolated areas of the IT organization. Today, there is a much more concerted effort underway to apply DevOps practices to build and deploy software on an industrial scale.

Achieving that goal, however, will require a lot more than simply adding higher levels of automation to a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) platform. As business leaders realize how dependent the organization is on new applications to drive additional revenue, they are demanding more visibility into the software delivery process. Every delay to a software project now has revenue implications for the business.

As more organizations come to that realization, it becomes apparent that monitoring software continuously as it is being built and after its deployed is now crucial to the business, said New Relic CEO Lew Cirne.

“If mission-critical software not working, then the business is not working,” he said. “You must watch it all; you can’t pick and choose.”

To become the de facto standard within an organization for monitoring those processes, DevOps vendors are racing to build DevOps platforms capable of operating at unprecedented levels of both scale and speed, said SignalFx CTO Arijit Mukherji.

“The scale of the data has increased,” Mukherji noted. “Everything needs to happen in real-time.”

DevOps platforms need to be extended to include support for everything from distributed tracing to machine learning algorithms, which organizations will rely on to identify the patterns employed to build AI models, he added.

That level of investment requires a lot of additional capital that DevOps vendors either need to raise or, in the case of SignalFx and AppDynamics, tap into as a subsidiary of a larger company.

The rise of microservices is further exacerbating those challenges as the number of dependencies within and between smaller segments of code increases. That fundamental shift in application architecture will require organizations to re-engineer DevOps processes across both the application and infrastructure levels of the entire IT environment, said Matt Cleve, director and global lead for Business iQ at AppDynamics.

“Real-time visibility into the entire application stack is going to be a lot more important,” Cleve said.

AppDynamics and parent company Cisco together will be in a unique position to deliver on that promise, he added.

A recent survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) on behalf of AppDynamics finds only 22% of IT organizations have access to any kind of real-time IT metrics.

Widespread adoption of best DevOps practices has been a long time in coming. What is clear now, however, is that the organizations that take full advantage of DevOps by the end of this decade will thrive the most through the next.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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