Over recent years, the DevOps wave has swept through the entire software development world unhindered. This revolutionary approach has proved itself what is indeed needed for businesses to scale development faster and more efficiently. The year 2020, with its main feature being a global pandemic, has appeared to be a turning point for DevOps, one that will determine the trajectory of software development for years to come, beginning from the next, 2021.
This article explores how COVID-19, the shift to the cloud, and its implications of security are driving a new wave of demands for software development in the near future, from a DevOps perspective.
1. Cloud-Native Technology in Production
As a Forrester report notes, the cloud takes center stage in pandemic recovery efforts, enabling millions of workers to work from home, maintaining supply chains globally, and rapidly transforming business models. In 2021, it estimates that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow by 35% to $120 billion, about $7 billion higher than its previous predictions, which changed after reviewing the revenue growth of the big cloud companies, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba.
Next year, companies would be shifting to cloud-native computing to seize benefits such as greater efficiency, lower costs, higher speed to delivery, and management ease. Cloud-native applications make use of micro-services, containers, and an agile framework built on continuous delivery, which enables businesses to build more reliable systems, quicker. The competitive nature of business means that the cloud-native approach, which improves the speed and efficiency of application development is inevitable in the coming years.
Little wonder Accenture describes cloud-native computing as the latest wave of digital disruption. Quoting the report, “cloud-native delivers scale, resiliency, and agility—both for the business and developers—that are almost impossible to achieve with pre-cloud architectures.”
2. Integration of DevOps and Security
Security is defining the coming trends of DevOps significantly more than ever. The massive shift to the cloud occasioned by the pandemic means there must now be greater emphasis on cloud-based cybersecurity due to elevated security concerns. Amongst other lessons, the pandemic has shown that cloud cybersecurity for remote workers is tougher than expected. This has caused experts to suggest that the cyber pandemic might be next.
DevOps is tied strongly to security; teams can build more secure applications if they integrate security earlier in the application development. With continuous testing and delivery, DevOps ensures that nothing is left to chance. Apparently, according to the Puppet State of DevOps retrospective, “integrating security throughout the software delivery lifecycle leads to faster software delivery with fewer security issues.”
But this isn’t just about what companies should do; it’s about what companies are doing. According to GitLab’s DevSecOps Landscape report 2020, the roles of security pros are changing, with 28% of surveyed respondents reporting being part of a cross-functional team focused on security. In addition, 27% have seen themselves more involved in regular development activities. Perhaps more importantly, 65% of these security pros also reported that security is shifting left, that is, being introduced into development earlier. Typically, security testing occurs at later stages since there are fewer issues early on. However, we’re witnessing a change in the trends. This is discussed in the next and final point.
3. Testing Shifts Further Left
Not only is security shifting left; testing, as a whole, will shift much further left in the coming years. Fewer bugs at the early stages mean that developers can detect and fix them easier. Vulnerabilities discovered at the production stage can cost up to around $7600 to fix whereas the same vulnerabilities discovered at the early stages of development could be fixed for only $80-$85 then. Hence, the need for shift-left testing. And developers are responding appropriately as evidenced by the rising trend.
One of the consequences of shifting left is that traditional testing teams are being stripped of testing exclusivity. That’s according to Capgemini’s Continuous Testing Report 2020. The report identifies the driving frameworks behind the increasing popularity of shift left as Model-based Testing (MBT), Test-driven Development (TDD), and predictive analytics/machine learning.
Shifting left comes with numerous advantages, including increased collaboration and productivity among workers. Also, it enables the creation of applications that are secure and compliant in broader environments. After all, it is one thing for a cloud service to be secure in isolation and it is another to remain secure when integrated with other industry tools.
While there seems to be no end in sight yet for the raging pandemic, 2021 is already shaping up to be a promising year. The impacts of COVID-19 on business and development are obviously long-term, and trends that dominate next year will pretty much determine the future of work, operations, and development. What we have learned so far is that:
- There will be many more cloud-native applications,
- Security will be a more important consideration in DevOps, and
- Testing will start appearing much earlier in the development life cycle.