The verdict is in: DevOps isn’t just a trendy term or shiny new thing. It’s real, and it delivers real results. As a result, the loose set of operating principles that emerged circa 2009 has become the default approach for most software-intensive organizations and is having an increasing effect on enterprise IT operating models.
This is a good thing. As Forrester’s research has shown, implementing DevOps consistently reduces time-to-market, increases enterprise agility, and makes businesses more resilient. Forrester’s The State Of DevOps, 2022 survey research shows that the highest performers are much more likely to be well along in their agile/DevOps transformations compared to laggards. And that’s just the beginning: DevOps may have demonstrated its value, but it’s not resting on its laurels.
So what’s next? When we imagine the future of DevOps, we see three primary vectors of evolution: people, practices, and platforms.
From the beginning, DevOps integrated different groups of people, and people remain central to its value. Enterprises have used a variety of methods (dojos, cross-functional teams, agile-plus-DevOps, etc.) to do the heavy lifting of integrating development and operations. Going forward, success will result from fine-tuning these efforts to suit specific contexts and objectives. Along the way, purpose will replace function as the North Star for individual teams. At the same time, we have learned that product leadership does not — and should not — correlate with reporting lines. Finally, everyone knows that it is increasingly difficult to hire top talent. We believe that organizations that invest in developer experience will be able to recruit and retain the right people for their DevOps teams and those that don’t will be left behind.
As DevOps evolves, practices replace processes. Automating repeatable, sequential processes will free employees to focus on the irregular, experience-oriented, and nonsequential practices that demand human attention. One place we can already see this taking place is security and risk management. DevSecOps replaces bolt-on solutions by shifting security left, integrating security and risk personnel at the start rather than the end of a project, and automating processes. Similarly, the high-performing organizations of the future will replace manual risk scoring systems with seamless, code-based change management enabled by AI/machine-learning real-time change-risk analysis. Site reliability engineering continues to gain traction as a specific set of DevOps-informed practices more focused on the infrastructure and operations domain, and again, we see high performers more likely to be investing there.
DevOps can’t be reduced to technology, but it can’t be divorced from it, either. We see the market for DevOps platforms consolidating, deepening, and expanding. For example, Forrester has recently shown that continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and continuous delivery and release automation (CDRA) platforms have begun to coalesce into a unified new kind of DevOps product, the integrated software delivery platform, that provides end-to-end support for a wide variety of deployment platforms: Linux virtual machines and containers, as well as Windows, mainframes/midranges, legacy Unix, and serverless.
After a decade of “best of breed” experimentation, our data now shows that high performers are likely to be consolidating and standardizing their DevOps pipelines. Alongside consolidation, we also expect the next generation of DevOps platforms to address the needs of tomorrow’s organizations. For example, rapid adoption of low-/no-code apps and the rise of the citizen developer raise new governance questions that DevOps platforms need to address. Likewise, the increasing penetration of AI and machine learning (ML) and the emergence of MLOps means that DevOps teams need tools that can support ML pipelines.
DevOps is only moving forward. If your organization wants to reap the benefits that come with DevOps — speed, agility, resilience — you need to focus on people, practices, and platforms.
To learn more about where DevOps is headed, see our recent reports The Future Of DevOps (with Chris Condo) and the new Forrester The State Of DevOps, 2022 survey research that uses advanced statistical analysis to show the relationship between DevOps and high performance.
(written with Zachary Stone)