Over the past few years, DevOps has evolved from a vague technical term to a revolutionary way-of-working for modern organisations.
That certainly hasn’t changed in 2018. According to research from DORA and Google Cloud, DevOps is continuing to increase productivity, market share, customer satisfaction, and technical excellence for companies globally.
But what will 2019 bring for DevOps? Having spent the last year travelling the globe to attend and speak at leading conferences, our team have been given a unique insight into the latest industry trends. During his time, they’ve had an opportunity to network and exchange ideas with key industry influencers.
In our most recent webinar, DevOps Product Owner Edward Pearson, Principal DevOps Consultant Raj Fowler, and Senior DevOps Transformation Consultant Graham Smith reflected on the things they’ve learnt in 2018 and the DevOps practices that organisations need to implement in the year ahead. Here’s our summary.
Raj Fowler, Principal DevOps Consultant, noted how more companies and teams are becoming aware of the power of DevOps. He believes that this trend will continue in 2019, with more organisations looking to disrupt the industries in which they operate and deliver repeatable value to customers.
“For the past five months, I’ve attended lots of webinars, events and conferences – and also met with a number of clients to understand what they’re trying to do and where they’re trying to go. The concepts, principles and practices of DevOps, in particular those moving towards products over projects, in fairly sizeable enterprises are more mainstream than I thought,” he said.
In 2019, Raj expects the increasing adoption of DevOps to result in smaller work batches; happier employees and customers; more competition for clients and staff; products over projects; more Agile and Lean practices; more learning; higher-throughput, lower lead times, and less burnout; and widespread disruption.
He added: “From Disney to the BBC, lots of organisations out there are heading towards a DevOps way-of-working. This is no longer a set of tools, competencies, and cultural norms specific to disruptive tech firms like Facebook, Netflix, and Spotify. This time next year, I think we’ll be talking more about how people are scaling these practices across modern enterprises.”
Trading in organisational currency
While a big part of DevOps is responding to change, it can be understandably daunting. People often fear the unknown and what it means for them. To understand how teams will react to change, DevOps Product Manager Ed Pearson said organisations should first understand the things they value.
“What organisations will need to be aware of over the next twelve months is how change and transformation affect their teams. For me, understanding the people in your organisation is the first part of the equation, and the second one is helping them understand how they’re valued. One of the phrases we’ve been using at DevOpsGroup to describe this is organisational currency,” he explained.
At DevOps Days London, Ed spoke with a number of people helping to drive change initiatives within organisations. One of the things that became clear was how many organisations value, or are seen to value, the wrong thing in their people. A classic example would be technical specialists whose organisational currency is based on a specific technology such as Exchange, VMWare, or even a programming language such as COBOL.
Although the business may be adopting new technologies like cloud computing and microservices, these professionals aren’t less valuable. It’s often the case that they’re long-serving employees with a deep understanding of the company and market.
Ed continued: “The conversation now isn’t about technology, but it’s about how this person understands the business logic and understands the nuances of what it takes to deliver these applications throughout the business better than anybody else. And because they’ve been there and done it, they know what it means to build these applications and integrate them.”
Going into 2019, Ed wants to see organisations exploring what DevOps transformation truly means for them and how their teams can help to accelerate this. He said: “The question will be: How do we take traditional sysadmins and equip them to work in modern cloud platforms like AWS and Azure?” Re-skilling is, therefore, paramount. Agreeing with Ed, Graham commented: “Getting into the cloud is a great thing for enhancing skills and taking you on that next step of the learning journey.”
We’ll have a tool for that
Citing the Periodic Table of DevOps from XebiaLabs, Senior DevOps Transformation Consultant Graham emphasised how the range of DevOps tooling is quickly expanding. And he expects it to grow even more in 2019. “Tools are not the answer to DevOps, but they’re still important. Anyone involved in DevOps will have noticed that we’re experiencing what you might call a Cambrian explosion of tooling. In every category, there’s scores of tool options available,” he said.
“My prediction is that if you’ve got a problem, there’s almost certainly going to be a tool which will exist to solve it. And I’d definitely consider adopting a tool before building something in-house. I think it pays us well to remember what Jeffrey Snover said at DevOps London: Build what differentiates you and buy what doesn’t.”
Of course, being able to purchase tools can be constrained by budgets and other resourcing factors. To find cost-effective solutions that work for your organisation, Graham recommends checking out the different DevOps tooling categories and particularly open-source options.
Aside from cost, Graham explored whether there are other organisational barriers in terms of tooling. One of the main findings in the 2018 Accelerate State of DevOps report is that teams should be allowed to choose their own tools, but Graham asked if that’s always going to be the case. His view is that this is fine for large companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, although it may not always be a viable option for SMEs.
Ed interjected, saying organisations could end up with an explosion of tools that just aren’t sustainable. “It may be that you’re not paying licensing to get it installed, but every tool you put in has an overhead for the organisation – whether it’s the infrastructure you run it on, training people to use it, or integrating it with other tooling.” The key, then, is working out what tools you actually need.
As 2018 ends, it’s clear that there have been some exciting developments for DevOps. Whether it’s finding new ways to get the most out of DevOps, taking your teams on the journey, or exploiting new tools, we have no doubt that 2019 will be just as exciting for the sector.