DevOps at the Crossroads: The Future of Software Delivery
This byline is written by Kumar Chivukula, CTO & co-founder of Opsera, along with Rajeev Madhavan, investor Clear Ventures. It was originally written for and published on thenewstack.io.
Read the full article below.
Organizations of all sizes across industries are looking for solutions that encourage faster, better application development and faster release of software features or products to customers. Developer productivity has become a significant issue as several developer hours every week are wasted on tasks outside of writing application code — from maintaining internal tooling to setting up dev environments to debugging pipelines, to waiting for builds and test results.
From a development manager’s perspective, having visibility on team productivity and related metrics is of paramount importance as development teams have become increasingly distributed. In addition, driving better collaboration between the software development team (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) department is one of the most important keys for the long-term success of software development organizations.
Over the last decade, several organizations have tried implementing DevOps-centric models in their day-to-day tasks for better productivity and workflows. Unfortunately, the journey from traditional siloed IT workflows into more cohesive, collaborative pipelines has been a difficult one that has been fraught with setbacks and failures in both large and small organizations.
According to Gartner, through 2023, 90% of DevOps initiatives will fail to fully meet expectations. The promise of DevOps was that it would encourage better collaboration and communication in all stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Clearly, it has not been realized by most organizations.
Large companies with resources have looked to build homegrown SDLC workflows and tools but many of them have struggled with a host of issues, including but not limited to:
- Inadequate integrations between tools
- Overlapping tools and lack of proper governance
- Security exposure in the workflow
- Incomplete end-to-end observability and monitoring.
In addition, a plethora of open-source tools has further complicated both the process of tool selection and tool integration.
On the other hand, smaller companies that lack the scale of their larger counterparts have additional challenges to deal with. Most of them lack the resources, expertise, and processes to do it themselves. The lack of appropriate DevOps workflows can become a key inhibitor for the success of a startup. The need for efficient DevOps has never been more evident but most companies have not been able to realize the benefits yet. In summary, DevOps is at a crossroads.
State of DevOps Today
Technological changes, on-demand releases and ever-changing business demands are making the software delivery management journey complex. Enterprises running in the cloud are running their workloads across EC2, containers, serverless/functions and using microservices. Managing software delivery across all of these complex environments is cumbersome and challenging.
In addition, most enterprises adopt SaaS applications such as Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow and Adobe Experience Manager, to name a few. They are struggling to bring DevOps practices to meet ongoing demands from business teams across these applications.
Even though DevOps culture is becoming mainstream, organizations are struggling with the increasing tool sprawl, complexity and costs. These teams are also dealing with a staggering (and growing) number of tools to help them get their work done. This has caused toil, with no single workflow and lack of visibility.
At Clear Ventures, the problems hit close to home as 17 of the 21 companies we had funded had software development workflows that needed to be managed efficiently. We found that some of the companies simply did not have the expertise to build out a DevOps workflow themselves. On the other hand, other companies added expertise over time as they scaled up but that required them to completely redo their workflows resulting in a lot of wasted code and effort.
We also noticed that the engineering managers struggled with software quality and did not know how to measure productivity in the new remote/hybrid working environment. In addition, developers were getting frustrated with the lack of ability to customize without a significant burden on themselves. Also, from our interactions with larger corporations, it became apparent that these were industry-wide challenges.
Several DevOps tools have arrived on the market of late but these tools, while solving some issues, have introduced new issues of their own. Broadly speaking, the existing approaches can be summarized as follows:
- Closed Tools: In recent years, several vendors have responded to the market need with tools that promise to alleviate the issues noted above but they come with a catch. It requires the organizations to cast away their existing tools and workflows and instead adopt the vendor’s tool lock, stock, and barrel. This is a tough pill to swallow for most organizations as switching out tools is not a trivial task. A better approach would be integrating existing tools while the organizations come up with a plan to phase out their existing tools over time.
- The Tools Jumble: The last few years have seen the arrival of dozens of open-source tools, stacks, and environments resulting in very complex pipelines that introduce additional overhead that consumes significant resources. A good part of the developers’ time is spent on tool integration and maintaining pipelines leading to reduced developer productivity. In addition, managers of these teams struggle with measuring productivity, quality and reliability. All these issues lead to greater friction between IT, security and operations teams.
Reimagining the Future of Software Delivery
It became clear that there was an unmet need in the market for the automation of numerous tasks that run at the same time in a way that minimizes production issues and time to market. In other words, the market needed an efficient and scalable way for no-code DevOps orchestration. Let’s examine what no-code DevOps orchestration is, its benefits and how to start taking advantage of it today to get ahead of the hype curve.
No-Code DevOps Orchestration
Gartner reports that more than 75% of organizations do not feel their DevOps efforts have met expectations. This is costly — not just because undergoing a DevOps transformation is a big investment upfront, but if DevOps isn’t delivering on its promise, that means that value isn’t being delivered.
The bottom line ultimately suffers. This has led to an even greater need for no-code DevOps orchestration — the automation of tasks, tools, and CI/CD pipelines to minimize security, quality, and production issues while accelerating speed to market.
No-code DevOps orchestration makes DevOps easy with automation across the DevOps lifecycle from integrating toolchains to maintaining them, creating automated pipeline workflows with security and quality baked-in, and providing intelligence across the software delivery lifecycle. It provides a way to build repeatable and safer DevOps practice and maximize developer productivity without writing unnecessary glue code and scripts. In the case of no-code application delivery, it enables business users to transform into DevOps engineers overnight to improve organizational agility and velocity.
Gartner also projects that by 2024, 65% of all applications will use some form of low code or no code. No code enables developers of all skill levels to create and deploy applications using a drag-and-drop interface to connect steps to transform information into value. No code DevOps orchestration, then, combines the benefits of no-code and DevOps orchestration to enable automation, flexibility, easy upskilling and faster time-to-market.
This has a positive impact on the speed, agility, communication, and collaboration of all software delivery teams as well as the quality and security of the application. Insights are important to orchestration as well because giving developers meaningful metrics about the software delivery process ( i.e. Lead Time, Change Failure Rate, Deployment Frequency, and Time to Restore) provides them immediate context for faster resolution and improved auditing and compliance.
No-code DevOps orchestration has multiple benefits including:
- Faster Go-to-Market: No-code DevOps orchestration improves agility and productivity across software delivery management.
- Efficiency: Allows enterprises to ship more products and get more work done with fewer resources, reducing the toil and impact of skills shortages.
- Visibility: Eliminates the visibility gap, giving engineers faster troubleshooting and restoration, stakeholders a “single source of truth,” and visibility and unified insights into security and quality policy compliance.
- Enables better visibility and predictive insights to help improve the software delivery process end-to-end.
- Helps companies find the issues, bugs and vulnerabilities early and avoid last-minute surprises.
- Security and Compliance: Mitigates the manual errors, security, compliance and audit challenges associated with end-to-end software delivery management
- Why Developers Benefit: Developers can focus on writing product code and shipping features to the end-user rather than building pipelines.
- Enables new tools and pipelines to be deployed in minutes rather than weeks or months.
- Increases confidence and use of DevOps automation.
Given that continuous software delivery management is critical for every company to effectively deliver customer experience via digital transformation, they should invest in delivering the new features and capabilities as opposed to the costly task of building the integration and orchestration platform internally and wasting already limited resources.
Enterprises should adopt no code DevOps orchestration tools and processes as soon as possible if they want to stay ahead of the innovation curve.