2021 DevOps Trends

  • July 22, 2021

As cloud advocates and drivers of innovation for our customers, we actively keep abreast of trends in the industry. While we follow community blogs and thought pieces, we also have a strong understanding of what enterprises are actively experiencing through personal observations in client engagements. I've had the opportunity to work hands-on with two companies' long-term projects in which we helped the client develop their DevOps vision and goals. Analyzing their projects crystallized for me that the DevOps aspirations of the last decade have evolved significantly, impacting DevOps in 2021. Read on as I share how and why. 

Historical trends

To understand where we are going, it’s helpful to understand where we’ve been. Taking a step back, what were the aspirations of companies and their teams going into late last decade? Based on our experience and customer demand, the top five trends from the last five to seven years were: 

  • Infrastructure automation to help accelerate processes such as provisioning, deployment and security to grow immutability and team efficiency. Automation helped organizations build and scale through DevOps principles like CI/CD workflows.   

  • Self-service application patterns and infrastructure patterns empower team members to, for example, self-provision resources and remove dependencies and speed time to productivity. 

  • The shift left of security by implementing security earlier in the DevOps process. To reduce risk and grow standardization, developers intentionally build security in, enabling easier compliance through code. 

  • These technology trends supported business trends to accelerate experimentation and innovation. While we're all familiar with the term fail fast, the ability to experiment more and quickly measure an experiment's outcomes allowed organizations to fail fast and try again or quickly usher successful innovations to market. 

  • Last, in addition to accelerating innovation, businesses sought to speed processes across teams. Digital transformation was ushered in to create greater repeatability, reliability, and efficiency within IT, but also across business units, marketing, sales, and HR. 

Future DevOps trends 

As we reach the bottom half of 2021, trends to watch for are around the maturing of processes, tools, frameworks, and strategies companies adopted in the last decade. Hence, they will be centered around: 

  • Teams will continue to focus on infrastructure automation tools to help speed deployment, repeatability, reliability, consistency and cost optimization.   As markets become more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, the value of agility grows as it helps companies quickly and intelligently react. 

  • Similarly, customer needs are shifting much more rapidly than ever before. To help ensure rapid response to changing customer expectations, organizations will continue to seek improvements in release management by identifying wait states and other potential slowdowns in order to bring new products, features and functionality to market faster.  

  • DevSecOps remains relevant as the pandemic brought many new security concerns to the forefront. From the security exposure of many new work-at-home employees to supply chain attacks, like SolarWinds, the trend to shift security left will continue, and be bolstered by focuses on zero trust, IAM, SASE, Chaos Engineering and more. 

  • Performance monitoring and the use of predictive tools will allow DevOps teams to proactively mediate before a potential concern can become a problem. Using AI powered monitoring solutions, companies will track and assess their IT environment. These solutions alert IT to anomalous events before they can cause issues, thereby ensuring greater uptime and availability for employees, partners and customers. 

  • AgileOps will gain in popularity as teams seek to pair the best of Agile methodologies and DevOps principles to streamline application development and delivery. SRE, which has slowly gained attention, will join their ranks to further streamline Operations, growing operational efficiency across development, delivery and ongoing management of applications and services. 

  • Cloud is clearly a supporting technology for all these trends. Yet, as cloud expands and for many companies becomes hybrid and multi-cloud, management becomes more complex. Enter the Cloud Management Platform (CMP) to help with everything from discovery and automated provisioning to monitoring and governance. CMPs will become important for enterprises needing cross-cloud visibility, orchestration and standardized security. 

The tale of two clients

As consultants, it's hard to find and work on all facets of the DevOps revolution in a single engagement; however, in retrospect, we’ve been lucky, and we will share a short summary of how we’ve helped two of our customers. 

Customer A is an automotive giant. It uses technology and AgileOps to gain an upper hand and stay ahead of the competition. Like most companies, they faced challenges with their tools, and with account and deployment sprawl. We conducted an assessment in which we identified the company’s current and desired states. From here, we created a road map of delivery, deployment and adoption for several of its business units. 

The desired state architecture included best practice, embedded security, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and automation that tests and deploys standardized patterns. Some of the infrastructure components included a secure landing zone, transit networking, and secure and isolated environments for external research parties involved in product development.  

On the other hand, we have Customer B, a SaaS provider. Its needs revolved around different DevOps challenges. Specifically, the team wanted to improve the product development lifecycle through discrete, targeted projects. We were tasked to help build pipelines as code and break down the product image creation process to create role specific images. We also created CIS hardened images, upgraded code, improved and upgraded the company’s configuration management, improved testing strategies, and added automation, release management, and artifact management to its environment.  

While each company’s needs and projects were different, the technologies and processes they used were similar, illustrating just how widely applicable and powerfully helpful these trends can be.  

If you're just starting your DevOps journey or well on your way, it can be helpful to have an experienced advisor at your side -- whether it's to show you the ropes or keep you ahead of the next transformative curve. Gain more guidance on your path to DevOps success and reach out to us here.

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Gaurav Rastogi

Gaurav Rastogi is a Solutions Architect at NTT DATA. With more than twenty years of industry experience and AWS knowledge, he helps enterprises map their requirements to available technology, secure architecture patterns and workflows that address the complex integration of multiple services and third-party technologies on public cloud platforms. Rastogi possesses multiple AWS certifications.

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