2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 1
December 09, 2020

The Holiday Season means it is time for DEVOPSdigest's annual list of DevOps predictions. Industry experts — from analysts and consultants to users and the top vendors — offer thoughtful, insightful, and often controversial predictions on how DevOps and related technologies will evolve and impact business in 2021.

Throughout the year, DEVOPSdigest covers a variety of technologies and subjects, and this year's predictions list offers an equally broad scope of topics. In addition to DevOps in general, topics covered include DevSecOps, containers and Kubernetes, cloud, automation, development and testing. This year, remote work from home (WFH) also takes center stage, inevitably impacting many of the predictions just as it has impacted the industry and all our lives.

Some of these predictions may come true in the next 12 months, while others may be just as valid but take several years to be realized. Still others may be wishful thinking or unbased fears. Several predictions even directly contradict each other. But taken collectively, this list of predictions offers a timely and fascinating snapshot of what the IT industry and the DevOps market are thinking about, planning, expecting and hoping for 2021.

The predictions will be posted in 6 parts over the next week and a half, with separate lists of predictions for DevSecOps and Containers to follow after the holidays.

A forecast by the top minds in DevOps today, here are the predictions:

DEVOPS RE-INVIGORATED

In 2021, the concept of DevOps will be invigorated. More and more companies will understand that DevOps is not just about tools, automation and orchestration, but very much about people and processes. There's a human side to DevOps, based on close collaboration, communication and a collective effort to remove bottlenecks and deliver results as efficiently as possible. This human side of DevOps will become more prominent in the next year and more experts will want to address it.
Mike Baldani
Product Marketing Manager, Software Delivery Management, CloudBees

We've been forced to reexamine the way we work and we will see it take shape in different ways when it comes to DevOps, including organizational design. The heart of DevOps is all about the blend of all the parts working together. It will be a mix of technology including Value Stream Management and the flexibility of cross-platform DevOps, with the right people and skills, and how those people are working together, communicating, and collaborating.
Sanjay Gidwani
COO, Copado

DevOps will transform from a sidekick to superhero in enterprises' fight for digital dominance. DevOps — responsible for developing new applications, interfaces, and other digital services — has been treated by C-level executives as a sidekick (though a valuable one, like Robin) for years. These executives saw DevOps as important in helping their organizations realize their business objectives, even if the digital services built by DevOps were not viewed as central to the organization's success. However, since COVID-19 has put the world's economy's digital transformation into overdrive, C-Suite executives are increasingly realizing that their company's digital services don't just support their core business — they are their core business. As the driving force behind these services, C-level executives now see the success or failure of their organizations hinging on whether their DevOps teams can deliver their customers and other stakeholders the digital services they want when they want them. They no longer expect DevOps to be a sidekick — they expect DevOps to be a superhhero. Those organizations whose DevOps teams can step up from being Robin to being Batman and meet this challenge will be poised to succeed over the next decade in our new, post-COVID-19 economy.
Don Foster
Global VP of Sales Engineering, Commvault

I predict we'll all continue to argue over DevOps, NoOps, DevTestOps, DevSecOps, and I'm sure 20 other variations I've forgotten. However, I also think we'll all come to a larger understanding that as long as organizations can all rally around a common goal and teams can identify ways that their work can contribute to those goals in a continuously less-frictioned process, they're doing it right. I predict we'll start to focus more on the immense value of the work to do inside of DevOps, instead of arguing over its nomenclature.
Noel Wurst
Software Testing Evangelist and Sr. Manager, Communications, SmartBear

DevOps becomes analogous with creating an entire corporate organization and execution structure that supports the Digital Transformation journey. Instant response to new information is a minimum success criteria for the transformed/transforming company and automating those process decisions is a clear area of opportunity.
Mark Thiele
Co-Founder and CEO , Edgevana

Listen to special guest Mark Thiele on the AI+ITOPS Podcast

DEV-OOPS

DevOps follows the path of BADgile, becoming DevOops for most teams — Many teams are mistakenly "Doing Agile" rather than "Being Agile" and have ended up with what I like to call BADgile. The same affliction also impacts teams moving to DevOps, their over-focus on automation tools resulting in missed requirements and defects being pushed into production. Successful DevOps teams will do so by improving their end-to-end processes first — including robust automated and manual testing to validate quality standards and security requirements — and segregating duties across workflows. Because you can't fail fast enough to make up for poor quality.
Hans Eckman
Principal Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group

DEVOPS BECOMES BIZDEVOPS

DevOps will become BizDevOps. DevOps has successfully broken down the wall between development and operations, but the larger purpose will enable the agile enterprise. The evolution to BizDevOps where DevOps needs to — and will — break down the remaining walls between business, dev and ops.
Tobias Kunze
CEO and Co-Founder, Glasnostic

In 2021 we will see a continual growth of BizDevOps used by companies striving to be more agile, focused and lean due to current pandemic situation and the need to transform into full digitalization. Using the right BizDevOps tools, companies will be able to streamline the business innovation process while reducing risk.
Oren Peleg
Director of Product Management, Panaya

In 2021 "coercion" will give way to "collaboration." Citizen developers' demands to roll up their sleeves and work directly on automation projects are finally being met as BizDevOps ramps up. Going forward we'll see increasing emphasis on good corporate governance being built into business projects from the ground up. There will be more solutions that enable the Biz to be a productive partner in the BizDevOps team, and the trend towards tools and platforms that incorporate a range of low-code to full-code options has already started. We'll see more business automation solutions that allow the whole BizDevOps team to design user interfaces on the same platform, to integrate technologies like RPA appropriately, while integrating good governance and security at every step. As automation and AI bring better capabilities for actionable business data, with BizDevOps collaborations we'll also see more emphasis on creating wider and deeper visibility into automation results.
Miguel Valdes Faura
CEO and Co-Founder, Bonitasoft

I think the shackles will start to come off in 2021. There will be positive pressure to remove some of the external constraints that prevent BizDevOps from becoming more continuous. This is due in part to the natural evolution of DevOps, but also as a result of the remote work world we find ourselves in. There's been an injection of continuousness into work that often had very defined parameters (i.e., things done at a certain time, in a certain way) which is leading to a broader permeation of DevOps through the enterprise.
Simon Haighton-Williams
CEO, Adaptavist

ENTERPRISE DEVOPS

In a Covid world, organizations are doing DevOps in some shape or form, either by choice or by necessity. However, is most cases, DevOps is done in silos and by a separate team, which is quite an anti-pattern in itself. As DevOps matures, it will start moving well beyond the traditional Java, .Net and the new cloud native and microservices world. Today, there is adequate tooling already in place to do DevOps for legacy (read Mainframe, UNIX etc.) and COTS systems (read SAP, ERP etc.). DevOps is also gaining traction in embedded systems, advanced AI/ML and big data areas. It's also invading Packaged systems like PEGA etc. This is being called "Enterprise DevOps" — where DevOps enablement cuts through the vertical slice of tech stack in an Enterprise. And when you have the right Release Management on Enterprise DevOps,it is a perfect fit for the business. Now technology meets the slice-and-dice needs of business. I believe that future is here and now in the next year or so in this space.
Madhwesh Kulkarni
SVP and Global Head, Technology Transformation Group, Zensar Technologies

CULTURAL DEVOPS

DevOps — "I predict we will see a million new DevOps sub-categories next year, like "RemoteDevOps" — but none of them will really mean anything. At the end of the day, DevOps' value to the business lies in Cultural DevOps — helping the people within your organization embrace the tools you've put in place to manage flow, WIP and infuse the continuous and iterative nature of DevOps into the business. This will help companies optimize any investments made in 2020 and better position for growth in 2021.
Simon Haighton-Williams
CEO, Adaptavist

DEVOPS REPLACED

Like its predecessor — Agile — DevOps will move out of the headlines and be replaced by a new wave of product development transformation that's all about bringing customer analytics tools and development tools closer together, e.g. linking Google Analytics directly into the dev process.
Antony Edwards
COO, Eggplant

AGILE REDISCOVERED

2021 will be the year we rediscover what Agile is really about. The history of Agile, and particularly its relationship to Scrum, has been convoluted. Because of this, the most important part of Agile — constant contact with the customer — has been forgotten in favor of Scrum meetings, product owners, and other processes. In 2021, we will see some encouraging shifts that will help the industry reclaim what Agile was supposed to be. We will go back to focusing on the original premise of valuing the interactions with people, including real demos to actual customers.
Mike Loukides
VP of Content Strategy, O'Reilly Media

We're actually going to see development become more agile overall. Agile is already everywhere. So it's really about behaving in more Agile ways, which becomes even more critical in a post-COVID recession economy. Many companies will continue to make cuts and limit big investments, opting instead to pursue smaller opportunities and shorter-term gains. There will likely be far fewer 5-year IT strategies as most will be looking 3-6 months out, so making your organization more agile will be key to managing the continual ebb and flow of the new world order.
Simon Haighton-Williams
CEO, Adaptavist

OPS-LED DEVELOPMENT

Ops-led development will advance. In 2021, there will be more emphasis on an ops-led development mentality. Now more than ever, companies need to deliver value and do it fast without breaking things. Ops-led development will put in the practice of observability throughout the entire DevOps cycle to continuously learn and build for an increased level of reliability.
Adam Frank
VP of Product and Design, Moogsoft

SMARTER DEVOPS

DevOps teams will start embracing smarter tools and technologies that involve AI and ML across the entire lifecycle, across code creation, code reviews, tests, observability and big data analysis.
Eran Kinsbruner
Chief Evangelist, Perfecto at Perforce Software

Organizations will increasingly incorporate analytics for "smarter" DevOps: Mature DevOps organizations are at the stage today where they are close to maximizing efficiency gains across their workflows. As these organizations look to go even faster and increase productivity, data science, AI, and automated analytical tools will become more integrated into workflows to improve efficiency and time to market. Developers will look to data science tooling to better project application outcomes through historical data and telemetry around repository logs, test results, infrastructure workloads, and more. This coupled with more intelligent alerting and smarter event-driven triggers will drive continuous integration workflows that unlock the next wave of productivity-driven success.
Lelah Manz
SVP and GM of Web Performant, Akamai

AI will make its way across all areas of DevOps activity. DevOps automation produces more builds, more frequently, and with them a lot of information. That's the perfect environment for AI and machine learning to play a role. The more data produced, the better these analytical technologies can detect patterns, make predictions and act on them to keep the CI/CD pipeline running smoothly. Most significantly, AI can produce intelligent automation about your DevOps process itself from the volumes of logs and performance flow data. AI will help to contribute to the improvement of CI/CD pipelines, avoiding mistakes that break builds and even predicting faults.
Aliaksandr Liakh
DevOps Software Engineer, Exadel

DevOps teams are the rainmakers of the software world. They'll focus on accelerating feedback loops and breaking down the silos between the development and operations teams to introduce better visibility into the process. This shift will require data-driven DevOps to inform these processes and, in the end, we'll see a lot more developers manipulating and being connected to the binaries they create and the ones they depend on. The data that these binaries produce as a source of consistency and visibility between the development phase (creating the binaries) and the Operations phase (running them in Production, ensuring security at runtime, and more).
Fred Simon
Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, JFrog

INCREASED RELEASE VELOCITY

For all the buzzwords, marketing, and feel-good think pieces about changing the world, at its core, digital transformation has always been about one thing: speed. Certainly, the breaking down of silos, fostering of increased collaboration, and greater appreciation for quality have been pleasant by-products, but speed has always been the final destination, and it's a destination we'll finally arrive at in 2021. As the collective impact of our investments in agile, DevOps, CI/CD, and continuous testing merge with widespread process automation, 2021 will be the year we finally start to see features go from keyboard to production in a matter of minutes. Look for development teams to step on the release velocity gas pedal like never before.
Alissa Lydon
Director of Product Marketing and Technology Evangelist, Sauce Labs

QUALITY OVER SPEED

2021 will see a shift from the speed of delivery of software and applications to prioritizing the quality of the digital experience. Continuous delivery will no longer be an acceptable excuse for low quality. The approach of just release it, and if there are problems, we'll fix it in the next release mandate will be retired. Users will no longer tolerate this in our digitally dependent world.
Antony Edwards
COO, Eggplant

Go to: 2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 2, covering the evolving role of the developer and DevOps teams.

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