What’s Next for DevOps Automation? 7 Predictions and Trends for the Year Ahead

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Organizations adopt automation strategies in all parts of the DevOps pipeline. New trends include seamless infrastructure, machine learning and AI, zero-touch automation, and more. Gilad David Maayan, founder and CEO, Agile SEO, helps discover what are expected to be the biggest automation trends and how they might impact your DevOps pipelines.

The Role of Automation in DevOps

The expectations of customers for reliability, service performance, and quality have increased due to the widespread use of software technologies and connectivity. As a result, businesses need to respond faster than ever before when it comes to fixing issues, improving product features, and delivering customer service.

Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) strategies like DevOps accelerate the delivery of quality software features to end-users by improving organizational workflows and tooling. DevOps eliminates process bottlenecks and replaces manual tasks with automation. The resulting speed and agility align every step of the SDLC workflow with business goals.

Benefits of DevOps Automation

DevOps is widely adopted due to the benefits it provides over traditional approaches. In particular, automation is often the main reason for DevOps adoption. These improvements include:

  • Increases the productivity of operations and development teams
  • Reduces the time of implementation and delivery of services
  • Standardizes processes for faster delivery and greater reliability
  • Saves costs by optimizing processes and reducing manual work 
  • Improves performance and reduces redundancy in tooling 

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DevOps automation can benefit different industries such as government, IT, and commercial software delivery. Automation enables teams to quickly adopt new technologies and optimize processes, leaving more time for innovation.

7 DevOps Automation Predictions and Trends for the Year ahead

The list below reviews seven automation trends that will change DevOps pipelines in the coming year.

1. Value stream

In H2 2021, the value stream approach will change the DevOps toolchain. DevOps is no longer just a continuous integration (CI) system. Chaining together multiple open source tools and trying to make them work together is not enough. Mature DevOps has to take into consideration the entire value stream, from business requirements and planning a new capability to delivering more value to the customer.

Many vendors already announced end-to-end value stream management, including GitLab, Atlassian’s new Forge platform, and CloudBees. This year, companies will continue to mature and adopt a system-level view on the value stream.

2. Bringing DevOps to new fields

Large corporations like Microsoft and Google will continue their research on how to bring the advantages of DevOps to new areas. For example:

  • Automating and operationalizing machine learning with the concept of machine learning operations
  • Moving mission-critical workloads to the cloud, as evidenced by Microsoft Azure’s integration with SAP, enabling automated deployment and workflow management
  • Using DevOps techniques and the concept of NoOps to accelerate the adoption of quantum computing and memory-based computing

Across these and many other fields, DevOps solutions detect and implement opportunities for improvement or risk mitigation across the entire life cycle. From the moment an idea becomes a story until a story becomes a product.

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3. Increased trust

A culture of trust between the Dev and Ops teams is the foundation of DevOps. Companies will make trust their main goal in H2 2021:

  • Proactively invest — in creating a culture of trust by identifying the reason for the lack of trust in your value stream.
  • Encourage product-level conversation — define ownership and methodology when it comes to product infrastructure and application automation, and value stream management. 
  • Invest in staging environments — staging environments ensure things work before you release them to production. Jumping directly to deploying to production is a big step for many companies. You can mitigate the risk by automating your staging environment. 

4. Traceability

Traceability is about tracing the lifecycle of a product requirement. Agile software development is based on continuous changes to multiple parts of a product. As a result, tracing is becoming one of the biggest technical headaches for organizations.

Distributed microservices applications and multi-cloud make the versioning and traceability of applications even more difficult. For instance, the tools in the planning and design stage do not naturally integrate with build and deploy stage tools. Therefore, the tools in both stages need to automatically share the same information.

The automatic integration of tools enables organizations to trace the full lifecycle in a highly automated and effective way. Leveraging webhooks for traceability in CI will be the fast-moving trend for 2021.  

5. Mature use of cloud computing

While DevOps has always been strongly tied to cloud computing, DevOps teams are making new, more sophisticated use of cloud technology. This is from the adoption of infrastructure as code (IaC) platforms like Amazon CloudFormation and Terraform to multi-cloud platforms like Google Anthos, that can manage workloads across on-premises data centers and multiple public clouds, to the increasing use of spot instancesOpens a new window to dramatically drive down cloud costs.

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6. Seamless infrastructure

Kubernetes and serverless technologies will become more integrated into infrastructure and processes. Teams with internal expertise will adopt self-service solutions to better integrate with existing infrastructures. Meanwhile, smaller or less expert teams will consume pre-built plug-ins and replace incompatible resources and tooling. The demand for self-service solutions will open the market for managed solutions as well as new products. 

To achieve seamless infrastructure, teams will need to:

  • Manage a balance of technical debt and new tooling
  • Evaluate how automation is used and current infrastructure limitations
  • Ensure team roles are fairly represented and supported by any automation that is adopted

7. Zero-touch automation

In H2 2021, the demand for automation tools that replace monotonous tasks will increase due to the maturity of AI capabilities. Zero-touch automation leverages machine learning to automate tasks without the need for human intervention. Organizations can use zero-touch automation throughout the DevOps workflow to further increase agility, speed, and efficiency.

Conclusion

DevOps encourages a dynamic and agile development workflow. Automation is an essential part of DevOps, enabling DevOps teams to do more in less time. Adoption to changes is also a big part of DevOps, so it’s natural that automation itself will undergo massive change. In H2 2021, you will see more AI technology integrated into DevOps tools. You will also see more focus on the value stream approach that takes into account the business aspect of product development.

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