The Future of DevOps

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In our previous blog, we covered the definition of DevOps, what it is trying to fix and how it can help businesses. This week, we're going to cover what the future holds for DevOps, what trends are emerging and what tools and products have emerged as a result of the DevOps movement.

A bright future

According to a recent report by tech research firm Gartner, DevOps will have “evolved from a niche strategy … to a mainstream strategy, which will be employed by 25 per cent of all Global 2000 organisations” by the end of 2016.

This is a significant prediction. A quarter of the world’s largest companies has adopted or is in the process of adopting DevOps into their organisation. That means that DevOps has gone from a concept first mentioned in 2009 to where adoption is seen as key to many businesses across a variety different markets.

Popular DevOps ecosystem

So what’s driving this? We learned in our previous blog that DevOps is a cultural movement, that it’s a cultural movement designed at improving the speed of company deployments.

Essentially, Gartner attributes the opportunities that surround the DevOps movement as the key driver of its valuation, and in particular, the tools it offers. Gartner predicts that the DevOps tools market is expected to grow 21 per cent globally. By the end of this year, the value of DevOps tools will reach $2.3 billion (£1.6 billion).

This is supported by a survey carried out by RightScale. In their recent 2016 ‘State of the Cloud’ report, it found that, of 1,060 respondents, 81 per cent of enterprises are adopting DevOps techniques and tools to help their businesses, compared to just 12 per cent that said they were not planning on adoption.

Automation is DevOps' friend

These tools have grown to help and support the idea behind DevOps, to make deployment rapid and efficient. Tools such as Puppet, Chef and Docker that promise continuous delivery and continuous improvement are driving the current surge in popularity for DevOps.

These tools help to foster a culture of DevOps principles, by providing better collaboration and by promoting the continuous delivery ethos, enabling the DevOps team to be agile. Automation is a crucial part of DevOps and these tools go a long way in supporting the movement.

Challenges to widespread adoption

Despite the encouraging signs of DevOps adoption by global businesses, there are a number of key issues facing further widespread adoption, ranging from cultural and organisational changes to technology changes, to simply a reluctance to change.

If it ain't broke...

A key change is cultural. Companies that previously were focused largely on maintaining and optimising technology costs are now being told by this movement that the actual focal point should be speed.

Picture this: you have to tell your managers not linked to development or operations that the focus has changed from cost management to rapid deployments. Get ready for a lot of reluctance. As the saying goes for these large corporations: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Let’s face it: many companies have a fear of upheaval and change.  The introduction of DevOps in a workplace would drastically alter the company. Workflows would change and processes would look completely different. Plus, the merging of teams and intertwined workflows means it's harder to visualise and document effectively.

Not all businesses welcome change. There have been movements before that promised so much and failed to deliver.

DevOps brings drastic change. From structure and hierarchy changes to cultural changes and new mission statements. This is why, while adoption of DevOps is taking off in certain sectors, the concept still faces challenges.

There's a tool for that

We mentioned the emergence of DevOp tools and an ecosystem above but that in itself causes issues. The ability to have tools for a variety of automation and monitoring tasks is useful, however the tricky bit is judging how many tools get adopted, and what should be maintained on a long term basis.

Simply put, there’s always been a scenario in a developer’s workflow where they’ve searched for a tool to help them fix a particular issue. Once they find this tool, this gets added to the ecosystem. Whose job is it to oversee which tools are used? How are they maintained? What happens if the tool no longer is supported, or worse, the original adopter leaves the company?

Legacy applications

Businesses of all sizes have a technology ecosystem. One of the main reasons why companies move so slowly to adopt new tools and techniques is simply because the tools have to fit into what is already currently being used.

This means that, potentially, the new tool has to work alongside a legacy tool that was last updated a decade ago. These applications do not have the same agility as the newer modern tools have.

Adopting the DevOps way

For those that have embraced DevOps, however, it has played a significant role. From the super digital companies such as Amazon and Netflix to companies such as Hiscox and Sony Pictures Entertainment, all have stories about how their shift to DevOps proved successful.

With Amazon, they use DevOps to deploy code at an average of 11.7 seconds. The number and time of outages has also been significantly reduced.

Netflix used the power of DevOps to create a number of automated tools that stress test Netflix's infrastructure and enabled the streaming company to track down and fix bugs and issues before any customers are impacted.

Hiscox, the financial provider, has reduced their cost of releasing applications by 97 per cent. This includes reducing time per release by 89 per cent, as well as reducing staff needed for such releases by 75 per cent.

Finally, since they adopted a continuous delivery model, Sony has reduced its delivery times to just minutes, freeing up developers to focus on adding features and reducing idle resources. This has also helped reduce costs.

The future’s brighter with DevOps

DevOps helps reduce costs for deployments and reduce developers’ time, freeing them up to focus on other areas of the business. It allows software to be delivered at a rapid pace and bugs to be fixed quickly and efficiently.

While there are challenges to adopting DevOps, the success stories of companies that have since adopted rapid deployment principles show rewards that are well worth reaping.

On just how DevOps can help organisations and its role for the foreseeable future, we’ll give the final word to Laurie Wurster, the research director at Gartner: “In response to the rapid change in business today, DevOps can help organisations that are pushing to implement a bimodal strategy to support their digitisation efforts.”

This week, we covered the trends of DevOps, its mass adoption and some of the tools that now support the DevOps cultural mantra. Next week, we'll look deeper into the technical aspects of DevOps, with a particular focus on the role of virtualisation.

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