What Emerging DevOps Capabilities to Boost in 2021

Developing CI/CD pipelines, deploying infrastructure as code, leveraging git to manage source code, and choosing between containers, PaaS, and serverless infrastructure are established devops best practices.

StarCIO DevOps 2021 by Isaac Sacolick

And most IT organizations seek ways to align the development team's mission on deploying capabilities faster with their operational responsibilities in ensuring reliable, secure, and scalable infrastructure. Many organizations are shifting left securityautomating testing, and deploying AIOps solutions as practices to cement this collaboration.

DevOps has a greater charter now in 2020 and 2021 as more applications are now mission-critical, while many employees work remotely during this "new normal" and COVID-adjusted digital transformation era.

So, as I begin to think about IT's mission and priorities 2021+, here are five critical DevOps capabilities to focus on in 2021. 

1. Redefine ITSM and Drive Employee Experiences

Depending on whose DevOps image you review, service management, including incident management, and request management, may or may not be featured. While ITSM may not have been high on the priority list for organizations moving to cloud architectures or rapidly iterating on application releases, it should be front and center in 2021. 

Why? Because many organizations develop applications and workflows for their employees, and the employee experience should be a top priority in 2021. In a recent white paper that I authored, employee experience is a top driver for business executives because of the shift to remote working.

If you leave the service desk to fend for their own, that's a big risk and missed opportunity.  Integrating IT application support from incident to agile development is one way to elevate IT resiliency for the new normal.

2. Accelerate Legacy App Modernizations with Agile Architecture

While you may equate "agile architecture" with cloud architectures, microservices, or serverless infrastructure, I refer to an entirely different form of agile architecture.

First, I'm talking about using agile methodologies to iterate through architecture design and efficiently complete proofs of concepts. That's important because organizations no longer have the time to go through exhaustive platform analysis even though there are often thousands of platform options in any one technology, data, or DevOps category.

Second, I'm talking about selecting lightweight architectures and especially low-code platforms. That;'s because too many organizations are sitting on top of complex legacy systems, and low-code application development can accelerate their modernization. 

3. Leverage QA as an Anchor of Change

At StarCIO, it's common for us to work with organizations with great ambitions to develop new applications, integrate platforms, and migrate to the cloud. They're anxious to develop their cloud migration roadmap and iteratively improve their CI/CD pipelines and IaC configurations.

And where is implementing QA, testing, and test automation in their roadmaps?

Usually nowhere. It's still pictured as the third or fourth practice in a journey, and I hear IT leaders say to me, "Isaac, we have to get there first."

And my response is that QA is an anchor that enables change, transitions, and transformations. 

How do you know when you're ready to deploy? How do you minimize the risk of deploying buggy software? When should you increase deployment frequency? How do you know that the application you just lift-and-shifted to the cloud operates the same way it did in your data center?

The answer to all these questions lies in whether you trust your testing. It requires robust test cases at the functional/UI, device/browser, API, data, performance, security, and other levels. Can you really build all of this testing in the last sprint before deployment? 

4. Look Beyond Cloud Transitions and Onto Infrastructure Agility

There are many reasons to consider public clouds. But over the last few months, I've been researching private cloud, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud architectures, edge computing, and hyperconverged infrastructures.

The answer to where you configure and deploy applications today starts with many questions. If you deploy analytics on massive databases, then edge analytics may be the answer, and there are options to leverage public cloud architectures in private clouds. For large, global enterprises that rely on M&A for growth and support different types of application workloads, a multi-cloud architecture has technical advantages.

The journey in 2021 and beyond is not just about cloud architectures and capabilities. The next step is infrastructure agility.

5. Extend DevOps Collaboration to Agile Digital Cultures

StarCIO Agile Planning Roadmaps

There are good reasons for IT organizations to seek DevOps collaborations.

We want to use agile, continuous planning and delivery practices to enable more applications and data science work, but we also need to enable Operations to deliver high reliability, performance, and security once they are deployed.

How do business teams factor into this collaboration and culture change? And do business leaders want to be part of a DevOps culture?

Probably not, but they want to be agile, and agility doesn't come without their collaboration. They want to improve customer and employee experiences, but that doesn't happen without IT learning more about customer needs and values. They want to shift the culture into a higher gear and avoid becoming a hot potato culture. They want to avoid change management and support transformation management. They recognize that agile is everywhere and should be more prevalent in their own business processes.

So in 2021, I will no longer be targeting DevOps cultures. I'll be speaking to more organizations about their digital cultures and ensuring that business, data, and other operational teams are part of the picture.

Are you with me?

As always, I am here for your questions. If you don't know where to start, continue, or grow with how low-code can drive digital transformation, please reach out to me!

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