As 2017 winds down and the IT industry prepares for 2018, there are a number of DevOps trends that everyone should be keeping their eyes on. It’s not so much that something incredible and explosive is expected in the new year. Rather, 2018 will be a time when DevOps starts to mature alongside other trends important to developers.
These trends don’t guarantee organizations will be immediately successful with DevOps. Most still will struggle with the management aspects of DevOps, especially the need to keep feuding silos within IT working together as one happy group. Assuming developers, QA, and Operations can all learn to get along and act as a team, the technology supporting DevOps will continue to improve and the ecosystem will grow.
Here are some of the DevOps trends that Amalgam Insights is following for 2018:
Everyone Loves Containers and the Ecosystem Grows
Containers have become a common technology in many IT departments. Although the majority of applications remain housed on single servers and virtual machines, container deployments are growing. Containers are an important enabling technology for DevOps—by creating small, transportable bits of applications, containers make it easy for IT silos to work from the same page.
In 2018, growth in container deployments is expected to accelerate as large companies outside the software industry, such as those in financial services and health care, adopt microservices infrastructure. Containers that are especially suited to microservices will continue to expand rapidly.
Increased container growth is also due to an expanding ecosystem. More companies have entered the market with products necessary to large-scale production applications. Products now exist for securing, managing, deploying and enhancing container services that weren’t available a few years ago. What’s more, containers are now available in all the major cloud services including Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Azure, AWS, IBM Cloud and Google Cloud. Containers are becoming enterprise-ready and large enterprises are feeling more confident using them.
Takeaway: Growth in the ecosystem contributes to growth in container deployments while expansion of containers entices companies to enter the ecosystem. Containers have reached mainstream normalization and we expect to see fast expansion throughout 2018.
Kubernetes Eats the Container Orchestration World
In the container orchestration space, Kubernetes has become the tool of choice. Orchestration is the deployment and management of container clusters and is necessary to deploy them at scale. Kubernetes, originally a Google open source project and now managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, has become the most popular orchestration tool available. That became obvious when Docker decided to distribute and support Kubernetes, despite having invested in its own orchestration system called Swarm. CoreOS, Microsoft Azure, Red Hat OpenShift, Docker and others have their own enterprise distributions as well.
Kubernetes brings to the container ecosystem a relatively easy way to manage containers at scale. In large container deployments, containers are constantly being spun up, shut down, moved and copied. Once container clusters are in place, they must be monitored for security and service failure.
During development, there will be a number of clusters that must be managed for development, test and final release to production. Doing this manually is close to impossible when even a moderate number of containers are in the DevOps pipeline. Kubernetes provides the tools and workflow to simplify these tasks.
Takeaway: As container production clusters grow and as they are integrated into the DevOps pipeline, the need for orchestration becomes acute. Kubernetes has won the game and is now the tool of choice for orchestration.
The Pipeline is Getting More Integrated
DevOps is often described of as a “pipeline,” In this context, a pipeline is a linear workflow that moves from build to test to release. As DevOps becomes more common in organizations, the pipeline grows to include additional test phases, monitoring and continuous improvement to create more of a cycle than a linear flow.
One of the great impediments to making DevOps a reality is a lack of tools that support the entire pipeline. There are plenty of tools that help build applications, such as IDEs and code repositories from companies such as IBM, Microsoft, GitHub and Oracle, as well as dozens of open source products. Testing is well-supported with test data management and test plan management tools from companies such Atlassian, Informatica and Oracle. Release management and deployment products are widely available from Atlassian, Microsoft, IBM and many other companies. The problem lies not with the support for the individual steps in the pipeline, but with the integration of these tools to provide a complete end-to-end workflow. This creates a disjointed workflow, prone to errors and supportive of silos instead of collaboration.
This is changing, however, and announcements late in 2017 herald toolsets that can provide a continuous DevOps pipeline. A great example of this is the newest versions of Microsoft’s developer tools that were debuted at Microsoft Connect(); in November 2017. Tying together the Visual Studio debugger with Kubernetes allows developers to test and debug as close to the production environment as possible and then deploy cluster to the test environment. That, plus the upgrades to Team Server, shows the commitment Microsoft has to creating integrated DevOps systems.
Takeaway: While DevOps tools are still more or less disjointed, we are seeing a movement to fully integrated toolsets that enable the end-to-end DevOps pipeline.
2018 is the Year of DevOps—Unless IT Management Gets It Wrong
This coming year could be the year that DevOps truly takes off and becomes mainstream. Those who believe it is already mainstream now are fooling themselves. Management may believe their organization is implementing DevOps, but too many barriers still exist—especially management itself. IT departments remain heavily siloed and independent of each other, as do development tools. DevOps at scale requires, above all else, a collaborative and cooperative approach. Sadly, that does not yet exist in many IT departments. As tools reach maturity and best practices become common, managers become the inhibitors of DevOps. New management structures, incentives and thought processes need to be in place or the money spent on tools is wasted.
Takeaway: All the DevOps pieces are in place except for the breaking down of functional silos that exist in IT departments. 2018 may be the year of DevOps if IT managers can create a new environment of cooperation.
About the Author / Tom Petrocelli
Tom Petrocelli is a contributing analyst with Amalgam Insights. His area of interest is collaboration and new ways of work, developer tools, IT project efficiency, governance and methodologies and DevOps. Most recently, Tom worked for a large, global banking corporation. Previously, he was the research director for Enterprise Social, Mobile and Cloud Applications at Neuralytix. He is an experienced marketing, technology and business executive with 30+ years in the computer technology industry. Tom’s background spans software engineering, systems architecture, IT, product management and marketing and general management. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.