The future of DevOps: What to expect for 2018

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This year we have witnessed more industries adopting the set of practices and solutions that make up DevOps. According to a Capgemini report, 60% of companies have adopted DevOps or plan to do so in the next year. This demonstrates how widely understood it is for DevOps to be a necessary part of your business strategy if you intend to quickly respond to market demands, keep your software and solutions regularly updated, and improve time-to-market within your business. Because of this, we have seen more and more demand for professionals with DevOps expertise across the globe. As DevOps continues to grow, here’s what we expect to see in the upcoming year. 

1. The continued growth of DevSecOps, with security tools and practices becoming part of the early development cycle   

In the same way that DevOps aims to improve communication and continuous delivery by merging departments, DevSecOps expands this to include security. This trend is making businesses more inclusive and means security departments are no longer at the end of the development cycle, but are now involved from the beginning. This brings a wealth of benefits to businesses, allowing the early assessment of factors such as architecture and containments. Looking forward, the integration of security into the DevOps pipeline will become increasingly important for business growth. 

2. The expansion of DevOps into IoT services   

Increasingly, hardware manufacturers working on IoT devices will see software as an integral part of their product. This involves incorporating DevOps into their business model, making it necessary to have people continuously working on both hardware and software designs. Tesla has jumped on this, and not only develops cars, but also the accompanying software within its vehicles. Software in cars is nothing new, but Tesla has taken it to a whole new level, even delivering updates wirelessly to its cars, over the air. Because of this, Tesla is able to continuously improve and update their products. Using this model allows constant product updates - including safety updates and what would have been a recall, in the past - and still is a recall for the legacy automotive manufacturers. Tesla can respond to user needs at a faster rate. This represents a turning point within the IoT industry, enabling better products and improved communication between multiples devices. Currently in IoT, there is no room for companies to forget about their products once they have been sold. Nowadays, user demand means regular updates for device functionality are mandatory. Companies are going to be forced to acknowledge this - and do it, in order to succeed and turn a stable profit from their IoT devices, as well as please their end users. 

3. Monitoring will become the new testing   

At the current and future scale it is not possible or practical to test all conceivable scenarios at the end of the product cycle. Instead, it is much more valuable to monitor for live issues and correct them in short cycles. As testing requires you to think of certain problems to look out for, it limits what you may find. By contrast, monitoring will bring up issues as they happen. The adoption of monitoring will allow companies to understand how their software runs in real situations, providing immediate information about their systems. This is invaluable information that needs to be acted upon and used to improve software. All of this requires a DevOps culture. Netflix is a perfect example of a company that has recognised this, monitoring its systems and, for example,  proactively replacing them if they don’t match the performance metrics it expects. 

4. Kubernetes will become the standard for cluster computing, and finally make Platform as a Service (PaaS) possible   

More companies will join the project and provide services on top of their operating systems. Additionally, extensions will be made available by cloud providers and software companies, making it easier to run applications in the cloud. Many of the major cloud providers including Microsoft Azure, AWS and Alibaba are starting to offer Kubernetes as a service, even a “serverless” Kubernetes where nodes are managed by the cloud provider, creating another level of abstraction and simplicity for developers. This brings the majority of the work needed to run a Kubernetes cluster back to these major providers. Because of this, we can expect there to be more integration between such providers with external tools. This means there is likely to be a shift to focus more on application layers and the services that run off Kubernetes. This general advancement within Kubernetes will allow easier adoption of advanced monitoring, logging and metric studying within companies. 

5. The accelerated death of (server) operating systems as we know them

This trend links back to Kubernetes becoming a main operating system for the cloud and clusters/containers. Operating systems, as we know them, are bound to disappear and be replaced by operating systems which possess the function to run containers in a Kubernetes cluster. On top of this, operating systems for hosts will suffer from containers as services because in these new environments they will no longer have a host. 

These are of course predictions, however the evidence is there that moving into the new year we can expect to see the continued growth of DevOps into new industries, incorporating new departments such as security, as well as an increase in product monitoring and the standardisation of Kubernetes for cluster computing.  

We can also expect companies to be met with certain challenges as IT environments become more complex. IT teams will be required to work not harder, but smarter, in order to manage these new technologies. Kubernetes is going to be one of the methods in which companies can manage container clusters at scale, and ensure continuous delivery and continuous integration within their organization.  

DevOps, and its accompanying benefits will become the norm, as industries not utilising a DevOps-based approach will fall into the minority. As this happens, we will see the integration of more departments into the beginning of the product pipeline, and a rise in monitoring to improve solutions and designs. In 2018, businesses should consult their preferred vendors to open the conversation, and learn more about how DevOps can benefit them moving into the new year.

Carlos Sanchez, Software Engineer at CloudBees  

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