DevOps

DevOps has been around for at least ten years. That’s aeons in today’s fast-paced world of technology. Though many suspected it would be just another fad, or another buzzword to refer to Agile development, DevOps has found a unique and permanent place in the teams and work culture of modern software delivery.

Now, as get rolling in 2018, the DevOps movement is far from slowing down. In fact, it’s all set to leave behind the growing pains and move on to providing maximum value for even the largest and most complex organizations.

DevOps Moves Well Out of the Experimental Phase

Organizations have already moved from sceptically observing on the sidelines to dipping their toes into DevOps pilot projects, and are seeing tremendous results from DevOps. Puppet’s 2017 State of DevOps report is full of such indicators.

Source: Puppet.com

There are improvements on every front for organizations that were quick to adopt DevOps. They’ve seen lead time for changes improve by orders of magnitude. They’ve been able to recover from incidents much faster, and see more resilient applications that have a lower failure rate.

Deployment frequency is perhaps the biggest indicator of success with DevOps. Organizations have gone from deploying a few hundred times per year to around 1,500 times per year. This is still far from the numbers from DevOps pioneers like Amazon and Google who release thousands of times per day, but for DevOps early adopters, these numbers are staggering.

The point of all this is that the testing phase for DevOps is now over. Organizations have seen the value in DevOps and are now looking to scale it and bring in the gains after much experimentation.

Rising Born-in-the-cloud Competition

Enterprises are facing disruption from startups that don’t have the baggage of technical debt, and are starting off as cloud-native solutions.

Take Lemonade, for example, an InsurTech company. They use AI to make deliver approvals for insurance policies and claims in 90 seconds. As they put it on their website: “Maya, our charming artificial intelligence bot, will craft the perfect insurance for you. It couldn’t be easier, or faster.”

We see this happening in the banking and finance sector where traditional banks are increasingly becoming outdated and their offerings aren’t as attractive as those from younger FinTech startups. Companies like Stripe, Wealthfront, and Lending Club are changing the face of modern banking, and are leveraging technology to power their services.

They don’t have a legacy stack to migrate, or older tooling to support. Leveraging cloud and container-based technologies, they devise innovative solutions for service discovery, API versioning, database management, and software testing. Their mobile apps provide many more services and a better user experience, while their aging counterparts still provide outdated and fragmented mobile experiences. Because of their use of technology and smaller teams, they are able to operate on much lower input costs and can pass on the benefits to their customers, giving their products an edge over traditional banking and finance solutions.

This trend of disruptive startups is not just in the banking and finance sector, but also cuts across the line impacting every industry. Some of the disruptive startups today are Opendoor for real estate, Obsidian for enterprise software security, Instrumental for device manufacturing, Atrium for legal software, and Virta Health for healthcare. These are startups to watch in 2018, both for their innovations and because many of them will likely be prime targets for acquisitions by enterprises.

The Cloud Wars Are Heating Up

AWS had a head-start on the other cloud vendors and is years ahead of the competition when you consider the breadth of its services and the innovations they reveal every year at their re:Invent conference. However, the other cloud vendors are pulling out all the stops to catch up with them, with Azure the fastest-growing cloud, despite AWS’s lead.   

The most recent battleground has been around Kubernetes. The open source tool - which began as a Google project - is now supported by Azure and AWS as they scrambled to put together a managed Kubernetes offering.

The customer is the biggest winner in this race, with innovative services coming faster and cheaper with each passing year. In 2018, we can expect even more innovations that make cloud computing simpler, and make the building blocks of DevOps more accessible to the enterprise.

DevOps Is More Accessible Than Ever

The key technical building blocks of DevOps are getting more and more accessible as born-in-the-cloud and cloud-provider competition intensifies.

For example, recently developed managed serverless offerings (like AWS Fargate) take as much non-differentiating work away from the enterprises as possible. This non-differentiating work has rarely been an enterprise’s core competency and therefore has acted as a barrier to DevOps ways of working. As cloud services expand, barriers to DevOps are removed.

Serverless and container technologies will no longer be only for early adopters, but will be commonplace for every enterprise DevOps team.

Nor need enterprises fear vendor lock-in as open source tools have become the default toolset for running cloud applications. The Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has a key role to play in this as it oversees some of the most important open source container tools like Prometheus, Fluentd, and Istio.

Whether it’s enterprise DevOps teams, their younger startup competitors, or the cloud vendors that serve them both, we’re seeing a lot of positive trends that point to DevOps moving from being a nice-to-have to a necessity for any organization that builds software. Every wave of technology like containerisation, serverless computing, and container orchestration has only strengthened the case for DevOps. As we go into 2018, enterprises have all the reason to be optimistic as DevOps moves from pilot programmes to mission-critical applications.

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  • Benjamin Wootton

    Co-Founder and CTO

    Benjamin Wootton is the Co-Founder and CTO of Contino. He has worked with tens of enterprise organisations on DevOps transformation and is a hands-on DevOps engineer with expertise in cloud and containers.

    More Articles by Benjamin