What will the DevOps landscape look like in 10 years’ time? Ten years ago, Agile was seen as new and different. Now it’s part of everyday life of most developers. Will it be the same with DevOps? It’s time to clasp the crystal ball and unravel where the future is headed.
First things first. DevOps is here to stay. The overwhelming trend towards the digitization of services accelerates the need for agility and shorter release cycles with DevOps as an invaluable building brick: think the Uber vehicle booking service, the Airbnb property rental service—even Amazon’s move to take the terrestrial version of Top Gear and launch it as a digital-only, on-demand broadcast service. Services are going digital. And so are companies: banks, retailers, telcos and others are increasingly positioned as software-driven businesses where IT makes the difference.
These organizations will need to develop and deliver compelling, customer-centric apps quicker than ever before. Agile development will become the battle cry of every business. Dev and Operations teams will increasingly need to shake hands in a middle ground of rapid development and reliable, high performance services delivery.
At a technical level, DevOps enablement will be driven by increased public and private cloud adoption: Infrastructure, Platform and Application Service Clouds are all important enablers for DevOps practices. Moreover, DevOps will also grow through the replacement of IT Operations Management tool chains – including automation, monitoring and service management – from non-DevOps to DevOps-enabled and DevOps-ready tools.
If agile is a journey, DevOps can be seen just as another part of it; one, that suits companies, which successfully completed the first phases of agile transformation and are now looking at ways to further enhance their agile maturity levels and accelerate releases. The increased adoption of agile development methodologies and the increase of related maturity levels thus will also fuel growth. Gartner, for example, has indicated that agile development is essential for mobile application development, arguing that the traditional methods used to define and develop desktop applications will not work with mobile application development.
Still not convinced? Then how about this. Research by Computing in the UK shows that 30% of 300 organizations surveyed in the run up to the 2015 DevOps Summit had either started to implement a DevOps strategy or had already merged Dev and Ops, with another 13% planning to go down this route.
Awareness of existing DevOps success will also fuel this continued growth. Recent research, for example, shows that high-performing IT organizations are deploying code 30 times more frequently with 50% fewer failures using DevOps practices. And demand for DevOps skills is soaring too: DevOps engineers are among the highest paid IT practitioners today, according to APM Digest.
Make no mistake, the software delivery chain will continue to accelerate and change cycles will shrink. In many competitive scenarios, an advantage can only be sustained through organizational agility. In fact, agility can make such a competitive advantage sustainable. Since IT is so important already in the “legacy” enterprise and becomes even more so in the digital economy, existing IT systems and methods will need to move towards agile.
Here’s another thought. I predict that within the next 10 years the split of ‘Mode 1’ and ‘Mode 2’ companies will disappear. Mode 1 is the traditional approach to development, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. It’s the blueprint for how IT Operations works. Mode 2 meanwhile is non-sequential, emphasizing agility and speed. And it requires new thinking and processes around issues such as investment management, governance and collaboration.
It will disappear for two reasons. First, distinct cultures and operational modes are not sustainable within the same business. Second, if agility is not a requirement, the service should not be operated within the boundaries of the firm for strategic reasons. Own “mode 1” operator companies should be used to outsource non-differentiated IT services.
In due course, bimodal IT will flourish within organizations, servicing two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information- and technology-intensive services in its own way. Success in both modes demands smarter, more flexible tools that support today’s complex IT operations. Bimodal IT is not without its risks and challenges, but it will be increasingly powerful in helping companies meet ever-growing customer expectations. DevOps will help firms help them bridge these two modes.
Market demand for DevOps skills will continue to grow too in the next 10 years. Research indicates that DevOps engineers are among the highest paid IT practitioners today and aggressive hiring of people with DevOps expertise will continue in the years to follow.
One final, more controversial thought. In 10 years’ time, we might not even be talking about DevOps anymore. By then, all stakeholders will understand how to work holistically to achieve business value through the end goal of delivering high quality applications and services to customers. So DevOps might even become redundant. But continuous delivery will be the norm.