With data indicating that 50% of organizations have implemented DevOps, analysts like Forrester are calling 2018 the “year of enterprise DevOps.” While many enterprises indeed have DevOps practices kicked off, these are early days and barriers to DevOps still exist. Such barriers vary and are based the type of organization, its size, existing processes and degree of deployment scale. A survey we published at the beginning of the year noted the top 10 barriersleading into 2017.
Having spoken with hundreds of DevOps practitioners, from those dipping their toes in the DevOps water to others already beginning to scale, empirical data shows some barriers already dissolving by 2018, while others are more deeply rooted.
In reverse chronological order from the previous infographic, this is an early preview of the DevOps barriers and trends we're seeing for 2018:
10. Executive Buy-In: Getting support, resource and budget alignment from executives.
2018 Forecast: According to Gartner, IT-related initiatives are No. 2 in priority for even CEOs behind growth, the highest ever since Gartner began their survey. Initiatives like DevOps that balance agility and risk really grease the skids. Getting executive buy-in will become significantly easier in 2018 and some may be top-down driven initiatives. Informing and educating business stakeholders proactively pays dividends.
9. Fragmented Toolchain: Fragmented toolsets including multiple open-source tools have hindered standardization and slowed down adoption.
2018 Forecast: This problem is likely to continue for several years until the toolchain ecosystem consolidates further and DevOps governance is mainstreamed and standardized across corporate systems including IT, LoB, partners, etc.
8. Budget Allocation: In 2017, DevOps suffered from under-budgeting and a perception from management that things that were inexpensive as tools were mostly open source. However, non-standardized adoption and expensive DevOps resources skewed budget.
2018 Forecast: With the realization that open source doesn’t equal free, especially as enterprise-grade support is required, there will be increased awareness of the budget needed for skilled DevOps resources. This barrier should get lowered -- organizations will need a budget for experimentation and failure.
7. Skillset: Highly trained DevOps skillsets were treated as “floating” experts and consultants overlaid onto existing teams. Organizing and staffing I&O pros were required for successful DevOps.
2018 Forecast: We are seeing structured training start to happen. Standardized blueprinting processes, common toolsets and process definitions are helping normalize training. Onboarding DevOps champions has helped -- this barrier will get lowered but won't entirely go away in 2018. NetOps, ITOps and variants will focus on specific initiatives to raise organizational DevOps literacy.
6. Application Complexity: Application modernization is top of mind with a move to cloud-based services models. Traditional three-tier applications are being re-architected. Complexity can block DevOps adoption.
2018 Forecast: This is a multi-year, decade-long initiative. The maturity of DevOps will aid application modernization initiatives across the entire life cycle. 2018 will be a year of continued progress.
5. No DevOps Plan: Previously, DevOps projects were being spun up as bottom-up initiatives. Program managers, planning processes, budget allocation and executive buy-in were all sporadic and not specifically tied to business goals or measurable objectives.
2018 Forecast: We see both organizational resources and budget allocation with structured planning tied to measurable business outcomes being attached to DevOps as it becomes mainstream.
4. Managing Environments: IT environments are becoming increasingly complex as applications become distributed, multi-cloud and accessible across a variety of different endpoints, IoT, mobile, etc. Replicating and managing environments is an issue as organizations scale.
2018 Forecast: Environment complexity manifests with both the scale of organization and velocity of its development cycles. Solutions such as blueprinting allow for standardization and automation of sandboxes in pipelines streamlines release management and delivery. DevOps collaboration and team productivity increases, while IT administrators can improve governance.
3. Tackling Legacy: Brownfield deployments with legacy infrastructure induce complexity for cloud models. Infrastructure rigidity and access to physical environments induce delays. Organizations that have on-premise infrastructure, proprietary tools and manual processes all suffer from legacy technical debt.
2018 Forecast: Infrastructure automation platforms and as-a-service models will take root. Despite continued investment in premise infrastructure, we expect this problem to be somewhat reduced in 2018 with a number of tools now straddling brownfield and greenfield deployments. Providing investment protection while introducing new workflows in a non-disruptive manner is key.
2. Testing Automation: Organizations are consciously embracing automation for continuous integration and deployment. Test automation is often an afterthought, as is security.
2018 Forecast: There will be increased recognition of continuous testing as a critical component of the CI/CD pipeline with quality becoming paramount as deployment scales. Automation breaks silos and allows for teams to bring significant standardization to a manual ad-hoc activity. Using sandboxes to grease continuous testing and automate environment creation will help improve quality and velocity of releases.
1. Culture: Early DevOps initiatives required a collaborative culture, with risk-taking, experimentation and failure forgiveness baked in. Usually, culture is the hardest to change. A “business as usual” attitude may not work. This was rated the No. 1 barrier to DevOps over the past two years, especially in enterprise deployments.
2018 Forecast: We predict enterprises will embrace a shift in culture as a conscious effort and as a foundational element of their DevOps rollout. With executive sponsorship, the election of champions and collaborative toolsets, a top-down and bottom-up culture shift will happen, breaking cultural barriers and improving collaboration between functional teams.
The net of the above portrays an optimistic trend with 2018-2020 being a critical inflection period for mainstream adoption of DevOps. It is not an on-off switch, but rather a set of recursive learnings applied to get the right mix for an organization as every organization is unique. Expectation management and hype avoidance can ensure alignment with the true north of DevOps.
Shashi Kiran , Forbes Councils
Forbes Technology Council