DevOps in 2019: The Road Ahead

DevOps in 2019: The Road Ahead

by Vijay Kumar

DevOps is a software development approach that combines development and IT operations to ensure faster delivery by bridging the communication gap between the two departments. Using the DevOps approach, development and IT teams work in collaboration throughout the product development life cycle from design and development to delivery and support.

‘Dev’ in DevOps is shorthand for developers, and it essentially includes anyone that is a part of the development process, including product owners and testing teams. ‘Ops’ stands for operations and includes sysadmin, network engineers, security engineers, database administrators, and others who constitute the IT operations team. As a result of their effortless coordination, DevOps enhances productivity while reducing risks and errors.

Further, DevOps seems to be closely linked to the Lean and Agile methodologies. Just like the Agile methodology suggests, the development process must include customers, developers, Quality Assurance (QA), and managers. DevOps goes a step further to cover the entire service delivery instead of just product development.

The past decade has seen continuous growth in the adoption of the DevOps approach. The benefits of bringing the IT operations and development teams together are numerous. Due to DevOps increase in popularity, more tools and platforms that support DevOps have also emerged.

As we are already three months into 2019, it seems to be a good idea to shed some light on what 2018 brought to DevOps. Then, we will cover where we’re headed in the rest of the ongoing year.

1. DevOps for C-Suit

When DevOps started getting popularity, experts expected that it would grow exponentially within a year or two. At that time, this was an overestimate. However, almost a decade later, we are witnessing DevOps going mainstream.

Earlier, the C-level Executives were concerned about the potential business value that DevOps could offer. Currently, the trend has shifted from CEOs and CIOs wondering ‘why’ to asking ‘how.’

Senior Executives have realized that Enterprise DevOps is the fastest route possible for their digital transformation journey. The growing market competition in 2019 will be pushing Senior IT Executives to focus on strategies and tools for DevOps. 2019 is going to be the year that DevOps experiences growth and delivers the value that was initially expected years ago.

2. Automation: The Challenge for 2019

Automation lies at the heart of DevOps. 2018 saw a significant increase in the demand for DevOps automation, and this trend is still equally relevant in 2019. The demand for automated testing is rapidly increasing despite the complexity of implementation.

Repeatable processes and multiple test runs that can reveal errors with better speed, high reliability, and reduced costs are some of the benefits of DevOps automation that make automated testing worth the effort. The faster you catch a bug, the quicker you can fix it. Besides, automated testing can greatly reduce the chances of human error and allow you to cut on resources.

The challenge, however, is the scarcity of Test Automation Engineers. The market is already saturated with developers and manual testers, but the number of people choosing the test automation field is quite insufficient despite the growing market demand.

Unless more people start opting for the role of Test Engineer, there will be a need for new tools that can make test automation less complex. 2019 will likely see more people taking up test engineering as a career while tool providers will be working to bridge the gap in the meanwhile.

3. Serverless Computing / Functions-as-a-Service

Unlike what the name implies, serverless computing does not mean ‘serverless.’ Rather, a cloud provider takes care of the machine resources. This allows organizations to focus on app development and takes away the burden of managing the infrastructure required to build and launch that app.

2018 witnessed a revolution in the development, testing, and launch of applications as a result of serverless architecture. One of the primary benefits that serverless computing presents is scalability.

Another benefit is cost-reduction. Organizations pay for what they use instead of having to keep their servers constantly up and running. Further, this means that organizations don’t have to pay for the time when their code is not running.

These benefits allow organizations to focus more on innovation. Organizations can achieve a faster time to market (TTM) length. Currently, Amazon’s Amazon Web Services Lambda is the most popular provider, but Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions have also established their foothold.

Although serverless has been around for years, 2019 will see the highest rate of serverless adoption yet. Perhaps, this year will also make some progress in solving problems like vendor lock-in and multi-tenancy issues.

Regardless, serverless computing is a trend that we’ll continue to see for the years to come. Also, as cloud-based functions become more mature, their ability to resolve complicated problems will also increase.

4. Containerized Microservices: The Rise of Kubernetes

Another popular trend that will make its way into 2019 is adopting a containerized microservices architecture. This approach breaks the entire system into independent services, meaning that each service runs isolatedly inside a container. This independence and isolation ensure that if an error occurs, the whole system does not break apart.

Adding new features and making changes to the existing features also becomes more straightforward. These are the reasons why the use of containers is currently growing more rapidly than ever.

In 2018, as the size and complexity of container clusters grew, there was an obvious need for a container orchestration tool. Complex deployment and management hindered the expected growth of containerization. At that time, Google’s Kubernetes emerged as the most sought-after container orchestration tool because of its features and usability.

Based on the popularity it gained in 2018, Kubernetes seems to be becoming the de-facto standard for container orchestration in 2019. The Kubernetes open source community is also great.

Even cloud giants like Microsoft Azure and AWSs have released Azure Kubernetes Service and Amazon’s Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS). Dockers also support Kubernetes.

5. DevSecOps: Integrated Security

DevSecOps is all about moving functional testing to the initial stages of the app development process. The idea behind this is that the earlier a bug is caught, the sooner it can be fixed.

‘Shifting left’ involves ongoing security checks across the software process chain, which reveals flaws quickly, minimizing the overall risks. As a result, by the end of the process chain, the failure chances are considerably reduced. This new approach puts an end to the blame game, and security becomes the entire team’s responsibility right from the start.

Just like DevOps made its way into the mainstream in 2018, 2019 will be the year of the rise of DevSecOps. Instead of carrying out security checks at the end of the development cycle, emphasis will be placed on writing code securely from the get-go.

This emphasis will take away a lot of the burden that is placed on the testing phase of the delivery pipeline. As a result, error-fixing will become faster and easier. In 2019, companies are expected to invest in automated DevSecOps that can detect vulnerabilities on its own.

6. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big Data

The increase in cloud-based SaaS applications has paved the way for data-driven DevOps. The popularity of functions-as-a-service (FaaS) has generated loads of data that can provide some amazing insights.

Today, organizations have a better understanding of user behavior and how they are interacting with their apps and services. This data can also serve as an opportunity for organizations to improve their software process chain.

Having so much data has made it possible for organizations to leverage Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial intelligence (AI) to improve and optimize their delivery models. Through ML and AI, organizations can detect failure patterns as well as predict and prevent where problems are likely to occur.

In 2019, AI and data science will go hand-in-hand in DevOps environments. This coordination will likely yield better software and testing processes. ML and AI on top of DevOps are certainly not cheap, but regardless, companies will be investing in them to enjoy a faster TTM.

7. Self-Sustaining Infrastructure

Although the data available to organizations is more plentiful than ever, managing significant volumes of data is impossible without a self-sustaining infrastructure in place. A self-sustaining process, a.k.a self-healing process, can restore all the data inside a container instantly.

In the event of failure, data loss will not be one of the many concerns of the teams working with that system. A self-sustaining infrastructure is built on self-sustaining processes that can not only spot issues but also, they can resolve problems on their own. This is next-level automation in practice.

Self-sustaining infrastructure enables unlimited scalability, reduced bugs, and minimal downtime. Further, self-sustaining infrastructure works synergistically with the cloud to allow almost zero downtime, automatic upscale and downscale, and the ability to add resources and remove problem-causing functions.

The most popular cloud-agnostic container platforms, Kubernetes and Docker, also offer support for self-sustaining processes. This means that companies can deploy their apps in cloud-agnostic containers knowing that should an issue arise, their processes can quickly restore the lost data. A self-sustaining infrastructure may have been a luxury in 2018, but it will be becoming a necessity in 2019.

8. No Code or Low Code

Another thing that’s expected in 2019 is an increase in the usage of no-code platforms to maximize agility. Applications will no longer be coded from scratch. Instead, reusable code and multi-platform resources will be used commonly.

Using reusable code and multi-platform resources will allow companies to enjoy rapid development at a fraction of the cost in terms of extensive coding. Inevitably, the focus will shift toward security and performance. This will require companies to invest in a different type of skill set, using seasoned back-end programmers who have the capability to work on low-code, complex, and mission-critical features.

9. Database DevOps

In 2019, DevOps practices will not only become pervasive in app development, but they will also be used widely for database development. The increasing strictness of regulatory requirements will be the chief enabler of DevOps for databases. Due to this, database development will no longer be considered a hindrance in continuous delivery.

Just like app development, version control for database development and similar change management processes will be on the rise. With this shift in approach toward database changes, the risks and delays associated with database deployment will be largely overcome. In 2019, database development will likely be jumping on the continuous delivery and release automation bandwagon.

10. The End of Silo Mentality

The demise of a silo mentality had already begun in 2018, but 2019 will put an end to it once and for all. The ‘shift-left’ approach in combination with DevOps is calling for increased interoperability.

Having multi-functional teams onboard will further optimize the app development process. Team structures across organizations will be changing with developers, analysts, and QA working closely with product owners and managers.

DevOps Predictions in a Nutshell

The trends listed above give an idea of how AI and automation will be at the core of DevOps this year. It won’t be absurd to expect an automated software development process where applications are self-written. AI and ML will transform each phase of software development from integrated security to container deployment, and Artificial Intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) will be dictating it all.

This transformation from manually-written to self-written applications will require extreme vigilance and better security. However, this will also enable innovation and rapid delivery as developers will be focusing more on enhancing features and adding value.

2019 will be an exciting year for DevOps, and the pace with which things are moving ahead isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. In a time where speed is everything, DevOps is the only way forward with its seamless communication and collaboration.

However, organizations will have their ways to keep up with the ever-changing ‘best practices.’ When rapid changes are inevitable, as with DevOps, the best way forward is to enable and facilitate knowledge sharing.

Vijay is a Senior DevOps Engineer and Systems Architect at Practical Logix

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