2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 5
December 16, 2020

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. Part 5 covers CI/CD, infrastructure and more.

Start with: 2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 1

Start with: 2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 2

Start with: 2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 3

Start with: 2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 4


There is still so much work that needs to be done with DevOps pipelines, including securing and testing the delivery process. The software developer community knows where it needs to go, but the work and obstacles in the way are always bigger than expected. Because of this, I am skeptical we'll see big changes in 2021 in terms of tooling or CI/CD patterns. Rather, we'll see more people realize they need to put more efforts into their DevOps pipeline, processes, and validation. They will double-down to accelerate and improve their CI/CD automation. Only when these processes are mature can organizations have confidence in their delivery practices and tooling.
Fred Simon
Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, JFrog


Continuous optimization will take the CI/CD pipeline a step further. We already know that cloud adoption is on the rise and that the CI/CD process works best in the cloud environment. For many enterprises, cloud-native code, namely structures that rely on event-triggered microservices, has made product delivery and upgrades more flexible, but it's introducing new complexities for optimizing performance and efficiency. For DevOps in 2021, the key word of "continuous" will extend beyond CI/CD and increasingly be applied to cloud optimization so efficiency and respecting the budget are not sacrificed in pursuit of speed and agility.
Amir Sharif
VP of Product and Marketing, Opsani


Legacy systems with masses of code will make the switchover to rapid release cycles in 2021 through managed CI/CD in the cloud. Until now, the technology driving this evolution for smaller organizations was not mature enough for legacy systems, but next year, this will change. In 2021, large enterprises too will harness the technological developments in managed CI/CD to maximize speed and efficiency by saving valuable time scaling up during peak times, maintaining security, addressing performance issues and the simpler and efficient creation of repositories.
Dori Exterman
CTO, Incredibuild


Observability will be helpful in CI/CD. On top of running the unit and integration tests, developers will be able to see the potential impact of the changes to production before the change is still under review. It's essential for distributed architectures as the impact on downstream services and other parts of the software can stay unnoticed before pushing into production. For this reason, application teams will find ways of embedding observability tooling as a part of their CI/CD process.
Emrah Samdan
VP of Product, Thundra


CI/CD will be vital for developer recruitment and retention. As more organizations move to working remotely indefinitely and as more initiatives are moved virtually, the demand for developer services will continue to grow. It is key for organizations to adopt continuous integration and delivery models in order to recruit and retain top developer talent. CI/CD is scalable, produces faster results, and optimized for delivery — meaning less frustration and more time for developers to build.
Brendan O'Leary
Senior Developer Evangelist, GitLab


In 2021, behind the continued explosion of Kubernetes, the next generation of developers will quickly take up the mantle with serverless. Serverless has been in the trough of disillusionment but, ultimately, will emerge as the solution for how developers can use the cloud-native infrastructure stack in a way where they aren't responsible for standing up, monitoring, and running these applications. Serverless still has a way to go, but anyone who thinks serverless has seen its best days or is too far fetched is in for a treat. As developers take on more of the decision-maker role, we will start to see a shift in the kind of tools developers will seek and implement. Being able to scale globally is possible with Kubernetes, but is very complex. Serverless provides a nice package to achieve global scale.
Spencer Kimball
CEO, Cockroach Labs

In 2021, more and more organizations will begin to realize that Kubernetes is not a panacea that solves DevOps challenges nor does it make an organization more agile by itself. Yet, the goals for the enterprise have never been more clear: reduce operational burden and unlock trapped potential within the organization to deliver value to the business. Increasingly, this value will be realized through the delivery of APIs, and for which developers are demanding better abstractions and higher level tools. These forces are giving rise to Serverless Computing which will dominate DevOps and the continued proliferation of APIs.
Rodric Rabbah
CTO and Co-Founder, Nimbella


Service Mesh will gain traction — not for what it adds, but what it takes away. Service mesh is the fabric that connects the distributed infrastructures that companies navigate when modernizing their IT infrastructure and enabling microservices. We anticipate service mesh use will dramatically increase through 2021 not for what it adds, but for the complexity it removes. A service mesh enables technology teams to replace all of an organization's ugly, unreliable, and noncompliant code, providing infrastructure freedom and cloud connectivity for teams. It is already a must-have for large organizations, and even SMBs will need a service mesh strategy if they plan to deliver stable and reliable services. Eventually, we expect service mesh to permeate every workload that a team runs, and the technology will get better and easier to use the more it matures.
Marco Palladino,
CTO and Co-Founder, Kong


Companies are distributing software closer to edge infrastructure and "devices" such as IoT and "things", but we are still at the very beginning of this phenomenon. In the software industry, automating distribution and updates all the way to the edge is still not commonplace. 2021 will be an inflection point, where this kind of delivery and distribution process picks up steam. Companies need to bring applications as close to customers as possible, and getting binaries there as quickly as possible is a critical capability to enable that.
Fred Simon
Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, JFrog

DevOps innovation will focus heavily on mixed multi-cloud and edge environments: After a decade of consolidation and centralization of services in the cloud, businesses are now gravitating again towards more decentralized, hybrid environments that are less prone to the risks of mono-cultural infrastructure and vendor lock-in. Multi-vendor and multi-technology strategies offer more flexibility, less dependencies, and fewer single points of failure. Edge nodes outside of the cloud are added as a place to run custom code. In 2021, DevOps teams will have to adjust their tools, technologies and practices to better manage these more diverse environments. "Everything as Code" will be one approach, but it won't be universally available in 2021 and will not be the one silver bullet.
Lelah Manz
SVP and GM of Web Performant, Akamai


A persistent gap in DevOps technical skills and resources will drive increased adoption of infrastructure as code (IaC). DevOps teams delivering on and for the cloud, most notably cloud infrastructure & ops teams, demand a broader set of skills. Gartner is predicting 50% of organizations will fail to meet cloud adoption goals due to lack of inhouse skills and experience. As part of a mix of solutions to their skills gap, organizations will increasingly leverage infrastructure as code (IaC) as a way to package expertise (using open source tools or cloud provider-specific ones), improve productivity, and improve quality and predictability with proven software.
Marius Ducea
VP of DevOps Practice, nClouds


For a decade or more, the slogan “Infrastructure as Code” has driven efforts to make configuration programmable. We’ve made lots of progress; and perhaps the best example of that progress is Kubernetes, which orchestrates the deployment, creation, and construction of containers. There’s one more piece (for now) to consider: how do you automate the configuration of Kubernetes itself? How do you make new deployments faster, while minimizing the possibility of human error at the same time? That’s achieved by using Git to manage Kubernetes’ configuration files and any other artifacts it needs to run. When anything changes, a Kubernetes operator manages the process of informing Kubernetes and related orchestration tools and gradually pushing the deployed system to the desired state. GitOps may be the ultimate expression of “Infrastructure as Code”; we expect it to have a big impact in the coming year.
Mike Loukides
VP of Emerging Tech Content, O'Reilly Media

GitOps goes mainstream in the enterprise. As we transition to an infrastructure-as-code and infrastructure-as-declarative-configuration, the benefits of the proven Git workflow will combine with CI/CD automation benefits. This will drive mainstream acceptance of what is called GitOps. Vendors and technologies that can support this workflow will thrive, those who don't will lose more relevance. Organizations will Git healthy in 2021, recognizing that GitOps is the playbook for success in the cloud native era. The guiding principle of GitOps is that Git is the source of truth for an organization's system, reflecting all changes made to both applications and infrastructure, and traceable in great detail.
Reza Shafii
VP of Products, Kong


"Everything as Code" will be the evolution of the as-code paradigm. The Infrastructure as Code approach has proved itself well. This coming year will see it expand in other DevOps areas. The as-code way of working enables organizations to benefit from shortened release cycles. These are more predictable and have less delivery risk, boosting business agility, responsiveness and innovation.
Aliaksandr Liakh
DevOps Software Engineer, Exadel

Go to: 2021 DevOps Predictions - Part 6, the final installment in the series, covering low code/no code.

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