In software development, as trends gain more popularity, they gain new adopters at ever-increasing rates. Often, it is simply because that’s what everybody seems to be doing and there is a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). This leads many organizations to get swept up in fads, some of which are so short-lived that the fad has passed before any real benefits are recognized. Then on to the next development craze.
Today, DevOps is the trend that is grabbing headlines and attracting all the attention. While some organizations have resisted making a DevOps transition – either due to confusion about what DevOps entails, concerns that it may just be a passing fad, or a simple aversion to change – other organizations have jumped in with both feet. The organizations in this second group are eager to reap the benefits being realized by competitors and other companies that have already transitioned to continuous delivery (CD) and a DevOps culture. These companies are differentiating themselves and delivering higher quality software faster by aligning development and operations across the DevOps trinity – people and culture, process and practice, and tools and technology. Better alignment across these three planes enables organizations to improve time to production, drive business value, and reduce IT costs.
According to a Cap Gemini report, about 60 percent of the organizations surveyed have already implemented a DevOps approach or are planning to do so in the next 24 months. That leaves 40 percent with no DevOps plans at this time. So, which group has it right? Is it the group that views DevOps with skepticism, having seen too many tech industry fads fizzle before delivering on their promise? Or is it the group that is embracing DevOps and establishing DevOps for the long term? At times like this, it pays to step back, take a breath and take stock of where we are and where we are going. When we do, it becomes clear that DevOps is not a fad; rather it is the way successful organizations are industrializing the delivery of quality software today and will be the new baseline tomorrow and for years to come.
When research shows that most companies surveyed are planning to or are already transitioning to DevOps enabled by CD, that speaks to the current popularity of DevOps. It does not fully address the question about the status of DevOps as a passing fad or lasting foundational shift. An answer to that question can be found by taking a closer look at the companies that have already adopted CD practices and a DevOps culture. Many of these companies are the established leaders in their respective industries and hold a dominant market position. Having made substantial, long-term investments in CD and DevOps, these companies decided some time ago that DevOps is no mere fad. As a result, they are already seeing impressive benefits. For example:
- Amazon, the leader in public cloud infrastructure, now releases on average every second.
- Etsy, the leading peer-to-peer e-commerce marketplace, went from deployments that took hours to deploying changes 50 times per day.
- Ticketmaster, the world’s leading ticketing company and one of the world’s top 10 e-commerce sites, deploys to production at the end of every sprint or multiple times per sprint.
- Netflix, disrupter of the entire cable and TV industry and responsible for about 30% of North American internet traffic, deploys thousands of times daily.
- Nordstrom, a leading fashion specialty retailer with 323 stores in the U.S., increased the pace of releases to monthly from just twice per year.
- Allstate, the largest publicly held personal lines property and casualty insurer in the U.S, is now delivering new applications in half the time it took to deploy a single new feature.
- Coca-Cola, the world’s third most valuable brand, has accelerated project delivery by up to 50% and cut defects in production by up to half.
The investment of time and dollars that these innovation leaders and industry giants have made in DevOps is a direct indicator that they believe that DevOps is here to stay, and the influence that these companies exert in these sectors will continue to build momentum for DevOps as other companies seek to keep up.
Looking ahead to the next few years, it’s not difficult to see where DevOps is heading. Investments in DevOps will begin to yield higher returns. DevOps practices will become better defined, and there will be less confusion across industries about exactly what DevOps is, which will further cement DevOps as a standard in software development. Furthermore, as DevOps becomes more industrialized, we will see DevOps incorporated into formalized training and integrated into university curriculums.
Indeed, as DevOps becomes engrained in successful companies, those companies will serve as positive examples of the benefits of DevOps to the enterprise.
Companies that effect a successful DevOps transformation are going to retain and attract talented people, who will drive further quality improvements, productivity improvements and ultimately success at the company. Meanwhile, companies that fail to embrace DevOps will bleed talent and fall further behind their competition, serving as illustrations of the adapt-or-perish maxim that is as true in the software development world as it is in the natural world. As General Eric Shinseki, former chief of staff of the U. S. Army put it, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
DevOps in the Next Five Years and Beyond
Over the next few years, DevOps will reach mainstream acceptance. A leading analyst firm pegs this stage at about four to five years from now, but it is likely to be sooner.
When looking back at similar trends in software, patterns emerge that shed light on the future of DevOps. The name or familiar buzzword of the trend tends to fade, while the underlying tenets and principles are absorbed by organizations as the new standards for delivering software. For example, in 2016 fewer people are talking about Extreme Programming (XP), but the agile development methods and continuous integration principles that support XP are now standard practices for today’s successful teams.
In five years, we may not be using the term “DevOps” as much – we may no longer have DevOps groups or DevOps in job titles – but what will remain are the underlying principles of using automation to bridge the gap between development and operations across people and culture, process and practice, and tools and technology.
A little more than 100 years ago, the automotive industry was revolutionized by the first moving assembly line. Once industrialization and automation were applied to dramatically reduce the time required to produce an automobile, there simply was no going back. Certainly, a few car manufacturers resisted the change, clinging to their existing approach, but the holdouts all eventually adapted or they perished. DevOps is the industrialization and automation of software development, and it is rapidly becoming the norm. There is no going back. As you survey your market today, it is safe to assume that your more successful competitors will be embracing DevOps in five years or sooner. The question you must answer is, “Where will your organization be in five years?”