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Predictions for DevOps in 2016

It has long been clichéd to say we’re living in a digital revolution, but with every day it becomes clearer. We can order taxis from our phones, deposit cheques and lock our front door via apps, buy anything from any device. This is made possible by software that can be changed quickly and often – one of the most important tools for businesses to find, capture, and retain customers.

Savvy businesses are using the malleability of software and rapid pace of its development to drive greater differentiation. They’re using instant feedback from users to improve software continuously, and increasingly doing this through DevOps. By ensuring close collaboration between developers and operations staff throughout the entire software development lifecycle, enterprises are becoming better at ensuring quality, maximizing speed, and reacting to—or even forecasting—market changes.

2016 will be a big year for DevOps. Here’s how to compete.

1. Large enterprises will get onboard fully

DevOps isn’t new for most large enterprises. Small teams are using DevOps principles to work on discrete projects, and after a few years of experimenting they’re starting to rack up successes. In general however, DevOps hasn’t been adopted widely throughout the enterprise. As a result, software releases are still too slow, too buggy, and too costly.

Now that multiple teams are demonstrating the value of adopting DevOps practices, C-level executives are taking notice, starting to engage with IT and asking how they can employ DevOps principles at scale throughout the enterprise.

Interest at the C-level is a positive development – lack of executive support has previously been cited as one of the biggest risks to implementation . It requires a fair amount of experimentation and a tolerance for failure—the kind which might not be acceptable to the organisation’s leaders unless they feel confident that the eventual outcome will be worth it.

As enterprises begin to modernize legacy applications in 2016, DevOps will play a central role. In fact Gartner research suggests DevOps practices will be used by at least a quarter of Global 2000 companies by the end of next year . Within five years, DevOps will be the norm when it comes to software development.

2. Standards will emerge

DevOps currently has no widely accepted standards, so what passes for DevOps in one organisation might not look the same in another. That means DevOps carries a certain amount of risk—and large enterprises are notoriously risk averse. Even if small teams are documenting wins, scaling out DevOps successes to the broader organisation can be a process of trial and error, which most enterprises don’t tend to engage in willingly.

As different teams experiment with DevOps and share their successes, there will be opportunities to standardize best practices based on lessons learned. Initially, the goal of standardization will be to help mitigate the risk of scaling DevOps practices. Eventually, as best practices rise to the top, they will likely become adopted and pervasive across industries. For example, at the moment, there are a lot of open source components that all have a step along the deployment path. As we mature, this tooling will consolidate to 3-4 dominant solution blueprints and form a de facto standard, which can then be formalized into an industry standard.

3. Security will increasingly become integrated with DevOps

Recent high-profile breaches have made it clear that security cannot be an afterthought. Best practices and testing must be built into the development process from the beginning—and that means making it a part of the DevOps team.

Integration with DevOps has not become mainstream yet - the pace of this change will accelerate considerably in 2016. At present, there are far more developers than application security experts, so security must coach DevOps on how to effectively and efficiently embed in current practices.

4. Key technology adoptions that enable DevOps will take off

There are relatively few defined tool chains, but organisations will learn and share successes in 2016:

Increasing automation

Automated testing, infrastructure and application deployments speed up cycles and reduce errors. With the average number of deployments per month expected to double in two years , automating routine and repetitive tasks will become increasingly important and help ensure repeatability. The first few wins from a technology tool chain perspective will be through the adoption of automation that will accelerate tasks, eliminate manual handoffs, and cut down error prone processes.

Decreasing latency

As organisations increase the pace of application delivery, they must look carefully at each stage of the development lifecycle, identifying and removing the biggest hurdles to success. This is a significant problem with the average cost percentage (per annum) of a single applications development, testing, deployment, and operations lifecycle considered wasteful or unnecessary as high as 25 per cent. Huge progress can be made by identifying the biggest bottlenecks in the delivery pipeline. It’s not particularly useful to remove smaller bottlenecks first because the major bottlenecks can still cause technical “debt” to build up earlier in the pipeline or reduce key resources further down in the pipeline.

Increasing visibility

It’s important to continuously assess and monitor high quality applications at every stage of their lifecycle. Key metrics include application user experience, health and availability of the infrastructure, threat and risk monitoring, which must be shared across the team through continuous feedback loops. If applications don’t meet business needs, then take steps to improve them, making constant forward progress until they do.

5. Job roles will evolve

Most IT organisations’ adoption of DevOps will force everyone to adopt new skills—not just from a technical perspective, but also from a cultural one. As developers become more familiar with infrastructure and operations staff get more familiar with code, it’s inevitable that jobs will morph and evolve.

In 2016, changes will go beyond development and operations to impact business analysts, planning teams and even C-suite. Roles will evolve as teams become more horizontally embedded around products and services, and multiple roles become part of the extended DevOps delivery chain.

Conclusions for DevOps in 2016

At a time when software will determine business leadership in the marketplace, it’s critical that enterprises understand the power of DevOps to help deliver higher quality software faster. DevOps is no longer a fringe movement or even simply an idea for “unicorns.” It’s the way enterprise IT must operate to compete and stay relevant in the marketplace. Armed with these predictions for DevOps, you can be ready for the changes to come—and take steps to be among the innovators, not those left behind.

Ken O’Hagan, Chief Technologist of UK Software, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens