2 Jan 2020

Predictions 2020: Infrastructure and Ops Trends

Today, modernizing systems is more than simply moving technology to a new location. It requires an IT stack of a new generation of technologies and tools to work.As we head into the new year, let’s take a look at the top eight trends that will shape how we will develop and deliver software.

Kubernetes : Yes, it’s big and getting bigger. The pace of enterprise adoption of this leading container orchestration solution will only gain momentum in 2020. Look no further than the 2,300% attendance increase from KubeCon 2015 (500) to KubeCon 2019 (12,000). As more companies begin to see the direct financial and operational benefits to the flexibility, scalability, automation, high availability and portability of Kubernetes, the demand for developers and engineering experts in this complex software will grow accordingly. Case in point: A 2019 national job search on LinkedIn turned up 16,744 open positions for Kubernetes-related roles. Given the already large and still developing Kubernetes community, we should also see an increase in the speed and volume of feature releases.

Microservices : It’s predicted that by 2022, 90% of all apps will feature microservices architectures. The growing business imperative for software engineering teams to produce and release software in ever shorter cycles—continuous delivery—has paved the way for a huge surge in microservices, the ideal architecture for CD. As enterprises continue their accelerated move to the cloud in 2020 and beyond, they increasingly prize the flexibility to try out the new technology stacks that microservices provide. All businesses want to optimize resources, minimize downtime, reduce infrastructure costs and avoid technology or vendor lock-in. In 2020, microservices architectures will continue to offer up more and better of all these benefits as the migration from monoliths picks up speed.

Service meshes : The rise of microservices has led to a parallel boom in service meshes. This will only accelerate, given how integral the current class of service meshes—Istio, Linkerd, Consul, Envoy—is to the successful functioning of microservices. As a software designed to enable the thousands of microservices that make up an application to talk to each other, it’s quickly become an essential component with a vendor ecosystem poised for substantial growth. Feature-rich Istio, backed by IBM, Google and Lyft, is the leading Kubernetes service mesh, and that shows no signs of changing in 2020, especially given the relative ease of setting up and running it. If your enterprise has embarked on the journey from monolith to microservices, it will soon be crossing paths with service meshes.

Observability : In the recent past, the sheer complexity of modern distributed systems has outstripped the tools designed to allow teams to see into them. Enter observability—which isn’t monitoring. Like good helicopter parents, software engineers, application developers, SREs and DevOps teams want to know and understand what their systems are doing at all times. LightStep, Datadog and Honeycomb, to name a few, are vendors poised to offer logging, tracing and metrics solutions to the rapidly growing number of enterprise teams building cloud native systems. Keep a close eye out for OpenTelemetry, an open source observability framework currently a member of the CNCF Sandbox.

SRE : One of the great challenges ahead for this still-emerging field is for enterprises of varying sizes and work cultures to find a form of SRE that works. What succeeds at Google may not be the recipe for SRE implementation at smaller tech enterprises or startups. The role of SRE and the expectations that go with it remain fluid. The SRE’s constant imperative to automate will only add to the profile of critical SRE and DevOps tools such as Terraform, Ansible and Jenkins. Ponder Amazon’s Prime Day 2018 losses of up to $99 million for a clear understanding of the business-critical importance of SREs in the years to come. The job market reflects this new reality.

Security : The shift-left movement in the software development lifecycle is on. The days of bolted-on post-production security are rapidly fading. DevSecOps, though still a buzz term, is here to stay, with more practice and use cases added to the theory. There are huge opportunities here for automated application security tools that support the software development workflow.

Then there’s privacy. The GDPR took effect last May and the California Consumer Privacy Act takes effect January 1, 2020. On top of these, there’s HIPAA and the regulatory compliance pressures on businesses in the area of security, which are already enormous—plus the immense challenges of cloud security. A 2019 Symantec survey on cloud security threats reports that 65% of businesses in the cloud still aren’t using multi-factor authentication. The same survey also notes that an astounding 85% of Symantec’s cloud customers aren’t employing security best practices. Look for businesses to tend to security earlier in the process.

Serverless : It’s a boom time in serverless, with Google’s Functions, Microsoft’s Azure Functions and IBM’s OpenWhisk all offering their serverless solutions following the 2014 rollout of AWS Lambda. Look for more businesses to adopt a serverless-first approach as they upgrade legacy systems and see the substantial cost saving and application development benefits. Startups, too, will see the cost-cutting upside and the agility that serverless brings. The changes in application development and architecture in the cloud as a result of serverless are hard to overstate. With the vendor solutions now on offer, developers are freed up to do what they most like to do: run code and add functionality to their application, faster, without worrying about scaling and availability. Like microservices, serverless will see a huge upsurge in usage as the age of the monolith fades.

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DevOps : With the demands of cloud computing and far greater enterprise investment in dedicated teams, DevOps in 2020 is poised to make the transition from policies and principles to actual practice. The addition of baked-in security to the DevOps realm—DevSecOps—adds urgency to the automation of building, provisioning and deploying secure software. ML- and AI-driven apps have arrived, and DevOps practices will play a large role in the development workflow. The goal of zero-touch automation looms large, and this adds urgency to the need for clean data, organizational buy-in and more integrated systems. AIOps, though getting plenty of attention, is still young and its benefits to IT operations are still more theoretical than actual–but stay tuned.

As we head into 2020, it will be exciting to watch these trends unfold. DevOps teams can expect the way we develop and deploy applications–in any architecture–to continue to evolve. By keeping a pulse on new developments in Kubernetes, microservices and other new technologies, they’ll be well prepared to bring their businesses into the new decade