10 DevOps trends to watch in 2020

Where is DevOps headed this year? Let’s examine key trends around topics including training, metrics, and tools
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[ Editor’s note: Helen Beal, head of DevOps, and Philippa Hale, Devopsologist at Ranger4; and Jayne Groll, CEO of DevOps Institute, also contributed to this article. ]

In 2019, we saw numerous successful DevOps initiatives across large and small enterprises. If you were involved in one, congratulations! But what can we expect for the future of DevOps in 2020?

As thought leaders in the DevOps community, we believe the following ten trends will shape the next year of DevOps across the globe.

1. Agile and DevOps will increase collaboration between technology and business functions 

Agile and DevOps are grassroots movements that started within technology. In many cases, however, Agile and DevOps have not been able to break out of technology. On the other hand, Agile has been adopted in other functions, including finance, human resources, procurement, and marketing. Some senior leaders are increasingly inviting their whole organizations to “become agile.” 

However, this doesn’t seem to have helped the technology community join forces with their colleagues in these other functions. Because of the competitive pressure digital is putting on organizations, in 2020 we will start to see more collaboration across functions – with agile as the conversation starter.  

Encourage your teams to talk to people from different functions about their experience using agile methods.

To speed this up, encourage your teams to talk to people from different functions about their experience using agile methods. Some helpful questions include: How are you doing agile? What are you doing? What is changing for you? What issues are you having? How could we work together to help to address some of these issues? These questions will help people from different functions get to know each other as people, and collaboration will improve.  

[ Are you fighting skeptics? Read also: DevOps for doubters: How to deal with 9 kinds of people who push back. ] 

2. Training and improving DevOps skills will become an organizational priority

DevOps requires trying out new technologies. Recent research from the DevOps Institute found that 55 percent of survey respondents prefer to hire into their DevOps teams from within their organization. Unfortunately, many companies don’t have the necessary skills to do this, and hiring new people might not be possible due to budget restraints. 

One approach is to create internal training universities. This is what the courier delivery services firm FedEx did: The company knew it did not have adequate skills in its talent pool of engineers, and this led its CIO to initiate the FedEx Cloud Dojo, which teaches its own engineers modern software development and technologies and functions as a university for FedEx. The university has reskilled more than 2,500 software programmers.  

Organizations that want to use DevOps to help advance their digital transformation must make drastic improvements in training, learning, and improving skills that are essential to DevOps. We expect to see a more proactive pursuit of this in 2020. 

3. Upskilling and cross-skilling will lead to the rise of the T-shaped professional 

Recognizing the strained talent market, organizations and individuals will invest heavily in upskilling and cross-skilling in order to meet accelerating demands for new skills. While all IT professionals will need to become more cross-domain competent, developers, in particular, will need to add new breadth to their skills portfolio in areas such as testing, containerization, infrastructure, AI, and security. 

Developers in particular will need to add new breadth to their skills portfolio.

There will also be a stronger emphasis on core (soft) skills such as empathy, customer experience, and collaboration. Silos are starting to come down in many areas, and the need for everyone to become T-shaped, with depth and breadth of knowledge, will become necessary to enable and support innovation. All of this training and new collaboration (see Trend 1, above) will lead to more workers developing new technical and professional skills and personal qualities, adding new depth and capabilities to the individuals on your teams. 

4. More teams will shift mindsets from “job done” to “value realized”

Value Stream Mapping can help change the way your teams think about the definition of done (DoD) from being “I did my job” to “the value is realized.” It is one of the most effective ways of changing behaviors and getting your teams to think about the end-to-end lifecycle of what they’re working on.

This is why the adoption of Value Stream Management is critical in 2020. It will enable you to automate the outputs from Value Stream Mapping for ongoing progress monitoring. This lets a team connect all parts of the ever-complex DevOps toolchains with system-derived data based on cycle time. Teams that adopt Value Stream Management in 2020 will be able to base their next improvement experiments on data-driven decisions and prioritizations. 

[ Read also: DevOps terms: 10 essential concepts, explained. ]

5. Tool fatigue will worsen before it gets better

The number of tools and frameworks in technology is daunting. The challenges IT teams face to understand, interconnect, and apply these will continue, and in 2020, there is no real resolution in sight. 

The competition in the DevOps toolchain is fierce and flourishing.

The competition in the DevOps toolchain is fierce and flourishing. Events and conferences are filled with technology and best-practice sessions. Books, blogs, and videos are flooding email inboxes, and thought leaders are eager to share their expertise. Additionally, more open source tools are emerging to integrate new technologies. 

To survive the challenges of complexity, it’s becoming increasingly important to have an automation strategy. As you work to develop this, don’t lose sight of the actual problems you are trying to solve and how you can get there by leveraging your own teams. 

Eveline Oehrlich is an industry analyst, author, speaker and business advisor focused on digital transformation. Eveline is the Chief Research Director at DevOps Institute where she leads the research and analysis for the Upskilling: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report and other research projects.