More automation, earlier security and 'Switzerland platforms' -- development predictions for 2021

crystal ball

The switch to remote working and the surge in online shopping during 2020 has seen a greater focus on the experience that software provides.

There have of course been other pressures on developers too, but what can we expect to happen in the next year?

Manoj Choudhary, CTO of Jitterbit thinks we'll see more automation, "To paraphrase Gartner, the idea that anything that can be automated in an organization should be automated is called hyperautomation. Along these lines, my belief is that if you do anything in technology three times -- particularly in the DevOps world -- it’s time to automate. Hyperautomation means taking legacy business processes that aren't streamlined and create expensive and extensive issues for organizations and automating as much as you can through means including robotic process automation (RPA). RPA removes tedious tasks and lets humans focus on more innovative and exciting work."

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Abdi Essa, regional vice president, UK and Ireland at Dynatrace also believes automation is key:

2020 saw changing consumer demand radically impact how organizations serve their customers. Think video conferencing for business, telehealth for medicine, kerbside pickup for grocery stores, and virtual learning for education. Delivering these new experiences so rapidly has fueled increased adoption of a DevOps culture, to enable teams to release applications more frequently with higher levels of quality, resiliency, and security. The spotlight has suddenly shifted to the 'release manager' who previously managed releases of a few monolithic applications annually or quarterly. Now, with hundreds of microservices running and releases monthly, weekly, or even daily, their job has become seemingly impossible.

In 2021, organizations will be looking to automate the software delivery process and make the release manager’s job simpler. The decision of whether to release or not is a great place to start. Evaluating the risk of a new software release involves analyzing the current status of service level objectives in production and the potential impact the new release will have on those objectives. Knowing the status, content and progress of new software releases and validating the SLOs without manual effort for each release makes the job of the release manager much simpler -- so this will be a significant area of focus in the year ahead.

Mike Baldani, product marketing manager, SDM at Cloudbees says delivering return on investment is key, "In 2021, we will see more emphasis on ROI and better outcomes that can be properly measured. With so many organizations embracing remote working, people will have to get used to a new way of working; one that's less about work for the sake of working and more about work for the sake of outcomes. Organizations will become more and more focused on firming up the criteria around business outcomes and on properly measuring results and the return on investment. With workers not able to solely rely on in-person meetings and interactions, software tools that can be used anywhere, at any time, in any part of the world and can surface relevant data and metrics will become more and more crucial to connect development effort to businesses goals for organizations to grow, improve and succeed in their respective markets."

While his colleague Brian Dawson, DevOps evangelist at Cloudbees thinks, "The human element of technology will continue to be embraced on multiple fronts. More and more DevOps and software delivery management talks and conversations will focus on evidence that culture and the humans involved in DevOps are a true differentiator in high-performing organizations. Also there will be a continued increase in focus on the user experience as a key differentiating factor for software driven products. Lastly, built on an understanding that nearly all software is created by humans for humans top teams and companies will consider the human element at every stage, from those building software, to those using software and through to those impacted by software."

Paul Szymczyk, VP of global sales at BigPanda, thinks it's time to ditch legacy environments, "There will be a rise of 'Switzerland platforms' that can unify tools, teams and workflows. As companies embrace the cloud, most will not be able to leave their legacy environments and tools fully behind. Siloed and fragmented Cloud Ops, DevOps, IT Ops and NOC teams will prevent organizations from being able to drive across-the-board improvements in uptime, SLAs and MTTx metrics. This will be an obstacle for CIOs and IT executives looking to maximize uptime and delight customers, which will lead to 'Switzerland platforms' being a must-have."

Nigel Kersten, field CTO at Puppet takes a more pessimistic view, "We've seen a huge investment in automation, cloud and general modernization of technology stacks in 2020. In 2021 we're going to see many of these initiatives either fail or be severely limited in terms of value due to organizations failing to invest in improving the human interactions and business processes around their tech. The companies that make it easier for people to work across organizational boundaries and do the hard work of optimizing business processes such as compliance and change management will accelerate ahead of the ones that don't. The problem is not a lack of skills, it’s a lack of will."

Emrah Samdan, VP of product at Thundra, wants to see more observability:

The software systems are much more distributed for the sake of speed and resilience but it makes them much more complicated to understand the issues when faced in production. Applications are not owned by siloed teams of developers and ops folks in modern applications. The notion of 'you build it you run it' forces developers to take the responsibility of the production application and guarantee the availability.

For this reason, I expect the acceleration of 'shift left' in observability tools and practices. It won’t be surprising to see application teams taking observability seriously in the pre-production phase. We are also about to see a persona change of the users of observability tools. Instead of ops folks and their discipline of understanding issues metric charts and log files, distributed tracing tools and production debugging will become much handier for developers both before and after production.

Cassius Rhue, VP, customer experience at SIOS Technology thinks we're approaching peak containerization, "Containers are continuing to make the headlines and are destined to be used in more use cases throughout the IT infrastructure. As the excitement wanes, companies will still run complex applications, databases, and ERPs in traditional on-premises and cloud environments."

Although Haoyuan Li, founder and CEO at Alluxio sees containers as a path away from data lakes, "Containerized application deployments and Kubernetes have started to gain traction with enterprises increasingly moving away from traditional Hadoop based data lakes. While moving away, enterprises are realizing the benefit of abstracting the physical infrastructure while also adopting public clouds for agility. Vendor lock in is a concern but at the same time a uniform toolset across environments is a must to reduce spending on the expertise required to operate across environments, such as hybrid and multi-cloud. Container based deployments for compute abstraction alongside new abstraction services for storage anywhere, will be the solution of choice for enterprises moving off Hadoop."

Yoav Landman, co-Founder and CTO of Jfrog thinks security will be introduced earlier in projects, "Software organizations are in a constant battle between delivery speed and delivery quality. The faster they move the greater the chances they end up with a lower-quality product. Most are in a race to do things fast and also instill quality into the product. What many may not consider is that security is one aspect of quality. Organizations using lots of third-party components in applications must pay special care to security if they want to continue to rely on 3rd-party dependencies for re-use and accelerated delivery, and handle these in an automated way throughout the pipeline.. We'll see more companies implement security safeguards very early on in their development process to combat this."

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