by Tom Helvick
If you’ve been working in software over the past few years, then you’ve heard about DevOps. Indeed, DevOps is a term that’s nearly impossible to avoid, it’s so commonplace in tech news, blogs, conferences, and trainings.
In this post, we’ll look at the state of DevOps and the top DevOps trends in 2019. Getting an overview of the industry and where it’s headed can provide a frame of reference for where your organization might best leverage DevOps going forward.
CI/CD Is Commonplace
Continuous integration (CI) is the process of automating incorporation and testing of new code. On the other hand, continuous delivery (CD) is the automated deployment of that code once it has passed all tests. Together, the CI/CD pipeline is the foundation of all modern DevOps practices.
So far, nearly all companies use some form of version control to track changes to their code. CI/CD takes version control to the next level by triggering integration, testing, and deployment of new commits automatically. Soon, nearly every company will have some form of CI/CD pipeline in place. It’s becoming an industry-standard practice off which faster deployments and agile workflows can build.
Not every CI/CD pipeline is the same. On one hand, many companies want new features to reach users as quickly as possible, so they prioritize speed in their pipelines. On the contrary, for other companies, deployment timeframes are sensitive and need to be controlled for business reasons. In this case, continuous delivery takes care of automating the technical aspects of deployment. As a result, the decision of when to deploy becomes purely a business decision.
Automated Monitoring & Recovery
CI/CD is just the first step in automating your application’s operations. Presently, the top DevOps practitioners automate all phases of development, deployment, monitoring, and backups. As CI/CD becomes more commonplace, more companies will explore the opportunities for endpoint monitoring, backups to off-site storage, rotating and retiring old backups, and more.
Compared to traditional applications, those with automated monitoring and backups are far more resilient. Indeed, the best automated DevOps cycles involve regular monitoring that immediately alerts when an error is detected. These systems can optionally rollback to a stable version, spin up a new instance, automatically restore databases from a backup, or provision other recovery options. In this case, good DevOps dramatically reduces the time to recovery after an error or disaster.
Infrastructure as Code
Modern applications often need to scale to meet fluctuating user demands over time. Prior to the advent of cloud computing, this meant physically provisioning new on-site servers and other hardware to handle increased bandwidth. However, cloud infrastructure now makes it possible to provision new computing resources using code.
Significantly, this infrastructure as code movement has upended the landscape of application development. At this point, it’s possible to fully automate the provisioning of new resources via load testing, monitoring, and balancing. Such automated infrastructure provisioning is a growing field in DevOps.
Understandable Microservices Architecture
In addition, a growing trend in DevOps is away from monolithic application architecture and toward microservices. Generally, the idea behind microservices is breaking down an application into its constituent functionalities. In turn, each of those functionalities runs as its own independent mini-application (aka microservice) with its own resources, data stores, etc.
To be sure, microservices architecture does not make sense for all applications. Indeed, simple applications are often much easier to manage as monoliths. Nevertheless, complex, high-load applications can benefit from the modular approach of microservices. Creating a microservices architecture that’s functional, extendable, and understandable is a major challenge. But it’s also an exciting field in modern DevOps.
Containerization & Kubernetes
With the increasing number of devices, platforms, and deployment options that today’s applications need to support, there’s a strong demand for tools that help standardize the environment an application runs in. Containers, and specifically Docker, have come to dominate this field. At this point, it’s quite common to deploy your application as a Docker container in order to get fast, consistent performance while also being able to spin up multiple instances at the same time.
For very complex applications–especially those using a microservices architecture–managing various services and instances across dozens or hundreds of containers can get overwhelming. A major trend in DevOps is toward container orchestration solutions that simplify and automate this task according to rules you write. Here, Kubernetes is the clear leader in the field and its influence is growing.
Modern DevOps in 2019
Without a doubt, DevOps has generated buzz for good reason. At this point, thousands of companies have used DevOps best practices to lower their deployment times, decrease failures, and increase organizational agility. However, it’s not true that there’s only one way to do DevOps. Instead, each company must find its own way forward with strategies that make business sense for their applications.
Additionally, DevOps adoption comes with its hurdles and setbacks. Often, executives have a hard time understanding the value of DevOps during the early stages of adoption. It can be difficult to make the case for a DevOps vision when challenges stall progress early on. For those companies that persevere, however, DevOps can unlock a host of benefits.
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