(This DevOps 2014: The Year of Scaling article was originally published in Wired’s Innovation Insights by James Brown, CXO at JumpCloud.)
I always enjoy resetting for the coming year and thinking about what my organization needs and wants to accomplish. It’s always fun and valuable to look into the crystal ball and try to predict how the industry might progress over the next year. It’s almost never 100 percent right, but the exercise of thinking through what’s going on in our industry is valuable and informative, and it forces you to think outside of the box.
This year, I have four themes or “predictions” around DevOps:
- Increased DevOps “adoption” in larger organizations. We know that DevOps is just a staple in startups these days. There really isn’t a choice of operating a different way – if you want to be competitive. However, more established organizations that have been around for a while, or have operated under a different IT methodology, there actually is a choice. And, more importantly, there is tremendous momentum not to change. We are going to see a lot of mid-sized businesses start to adopt DevOps and some large enterprises. Let’s be clear, though, on what adoption means. As you’ll see in my fourth prediction below, it won’t be full scale. We’ll see a lot more “tool” adoption first and then processes will change and those things will drive organizations to step back and start to drive towards DevOps from a cultural perspective.
- DevOps “washing” will be in full swing. As we have seen with generations of new technology, it won’t be long before more and more vendors start to jump on the DevOps bandwagon. Whether their tool legitimately solves a DevOps problem or helps organizations move towards DevOps or not, their product will be a “DevOps” solution! Like the Cloud, DevOps will become a “me too” must-have for vendors. We’ve seen it in spades with cloud solutions – a few years ago every product was cloud enabled. The irony of this prediction is that customers won’t be fooled and with the foundational business model of IT moving towards easy trials, pay as you go, and minimal implementation time, it will be easy to see the legitimate DevOps solutions.
- Leaps in innovation. The entire DevOps community is quickly advancing IT as an industry. We are seeing massive leaps in an organization’s ability to scale their infrastructure, automate it, and manage it. This will likely continue and the year will bring more advances that we can’t see coming. DevOps and IT admins are creating more leverage than ever in their roles. They are able to accomplish so much more — and with so much less — than at any other time in history. Vendors and the amazing open source developers are driving these step-function increases.
- Cultural change is slow. While we’ll see significant movement towards DevOps, the basis of it — changing of the culture — will still be moving at a slow pace. Unfortunately we can throw as much technology and process as we want into making cultural change move faster, but the reality is that it just takes time. DevOps at its core is embracing a culture of rapid iteration, cross-functional communication, constant measurement, and automation. However, for large organizations, at the core of that change is thousands of really smart people that have done things a certain way for many years. Changing those views and habits takes time, even in the best of circumstances. Throw in some key folks that are resistant to change in an organization and you have a long-term project on your hands.
That being said, we’ll definitely see progress this year — just don’t expect it to be an accelerating cultural shift right out of the gate. However, when it does start to happen — now that will be really fun to watch. At some point the startups who already embrace technology today are going to grow and their IT processes could have significant influence on the IT industry as a whole, certainly if they can put ROI to their approach. As they start to grow and compete with the bigger guys, having things like automation in place could give the emerging companies more of a competitive edge (think Netflix vs. Blockbuster?). That would be one fun, competitive battle to watch, right?
DevOps is a fundamental shift in the IT methodology and we are super excited to be a part of the industry. 2014 will be year of rapid innovation and scaling adoption. It should be exciting for all involved.