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If 2023 has proved anything in DevOps, it's that staying ahead of the curve is not a strategic choice but a necessity. The software development landscape has experienced a plethora of changes this past year, including the swift and widespread adoption of artificial intelligence, agile frameworks becoming mainstream, and evolving job roles within the DevOps sector. If 2023 was an opportunity to explore the enhanced DevOps methodologies that could expedite software delivery, 2024 is the year to embrace them wholeheartedly.
How AI's Biggest Year in DevOps Will Transcend 2023
2023 was a year marked by innovation, and it came with both challenges and triumphs. The emergence of generative AI was and continues to be one of the biggest technology trends seen in recent years. For the DevOps sector, it has raised several important questions.
What does this mean for the role of a software developer?
Can artificial intelligence and Large Language Models (LLMs) be relied on in accelerating development frameworks?
How can DevOps effectively take advantage of AI?
These are some of the questions that we still need to answer this year. However, the learnings of 2023 have given the valuable insights needed to move forward and empower the DevOps sector. In a 2023 blog I posted on DEVOPSdigest, I wrote about the agile expectations around technology solutions: "Applications are expected to be planned, developed, tested, and deployed in weeks — if not days — and wholescale digital transformation projects should happen quickly."
Given how much automation and AI can speed up the development of software, I would argue that it should now be the expected standard going forward. As such, the developer's role will change, especially as we see the strengthening of AI capabilities in areas such as self-healing and AI-generated continuous delivery pipelines. We'll see a growing number of developers using AI models like Codex and Copilot to generate code and accelerate their workflows. As AI matures, so too will the degree of innovation it can offer and investor interest to keep funding future development.
Ever-changing: The Developer Experience in 2024
The evolution of the developer experience will shape the nature of the DevOps landscape in 2024. 2023 saw huge changes, such as the sharp rise in CI/CD and increased pressure on engineers to deliver faster and much-improved outputs to beat the competition. It's this pressure that has given a welcome increase to the use of automation in DevOps workflows. Automation tools and AI technologies will play an essential role in accelerating the development process. The ways in which automation can take over mundane, repetitive tasks with reduced error are already welcomed and commonly accepted. The benefits are also readily valued in allowing developers to focus on oversight and higher-value activities such as strategy, training, and innovation.
With these tools taking precedence in carrying out lower-value tasks, we'll see a greater emphasis on the blend of soft skills with specialized technical expertise, thus changing what we've come to know as the traditional role of the software developer. This shift recognizes the importance of effective teamwork, particularly within a globalized workforce, and collaboration in driving forward successful software development projects. If they haven't already, developers and engineers should expect their roles to diverge into something new, with far more opportunities for growth outside of traditional development workflows.
The most valuable trend we'll see in terms of technical expertise will be around the growth of security and data engineering skills. With an increasing reliance on AI and handling large and complex data sets, data skills will be critical for deriving meaningful insights and value from AI outputs.
Additionally, ensuring the security of software applications and systems will continue to be a top priority, such as IR protection and highlighting the need for real-time remediation of cyber attacks.
Accelerating Success in 2024
To accelerate the development and delivery of software in 2024, there are several key trends for the DevOps sector to be aware of in its strategy:
AI will continue to be the biggest development in technology
AI is poised to play a pivotal role in both automating and optimizing software development workflows, resulting in a more efficient and dependable process. Generative AI's widespread adoption in conjunction with low-code and no-code platforms will see coding itself become commoditized in 2024. This will lessen the demand for coding expertise and reduce the time-to-value for developer teams. In many cases, low-code and no-code platforms will reduce the need for infrastructure-level and application-level coding skills.
The democratization of developing
Low-code and no-code platforms can now build increasingly complex applications, surpassing simple apps and workflows. These expanding use cases will reduce reliance on conventional coding and allow development to be democratized and carried out by those in non-traditional roles, such as business analysts and subject matter experts. Whilst these "citizen developers" could be the answer to the shortage of coding talent, of course, it could also mean a need for increased governance and oversight. Plus, collaboration between low-code creators and pro-developers will have to grow for this to happen successfully.
Use accelerated workflows to simplify infrastructure
DevOps will continue to adopt automated workflows to streamline the development process. As a result, developers will be able to minimize bottlenecks and reduce the time required to bring solutions to market. This will be critical to success, with the business landscape being faster-paced and more competitive than we've ever seen. Developers will need to focus on efficiency, CI/CD, and robust testing - all of which are expedited with automation.
Don't Forget the Value of Soft Skills
With AI-assisted technologies set to transform almost every industry, effective collaboration and problem-solving will be essential for successful DevOps teams. When we consider the scale of the DevOps sector, the ability to work well with distributed teams will be essential. AI thus far has shown to work best with human oversight, and augmenting this skill set will require necessary collaborative skills regardless of sector.
The DevOps sector has always moved rapidly, embracing new methodologies and incorporating better ways of working to deliver outstanding software solutions at scale. The awareness and integration of automation and AI will see these shortened development cycles shrink even further, and monitoring this shift will be integral in giving developers the best chance at success as we move through this transitional phase in 2024.