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Thoughts on “Is devops still relevant?”

Thoughts on “Is devops still relevant?”
July 27, 2022

This twitter space proposes that DevOps replaced “Ops” in the software industry as the delivery model for software shifted from “on disks” to “as-a-service”. And it’s hard to disagree with that. The general cultural frame of DevOps as “shifting left” on building/testing, deployment, observability/monitoring, and on-call was good for the industry in many ways, including forcing collaboration between technology teams and the business, and forcing developers to understand how their app is run in production instead of “throwing it over the wall.” With the saturation of these ideas in real-world teams, the question becomes, is the DevOps era over? If so, what’s next?

As for the first question, people are looking for a new era for a few reasons:

  • It’s been a while, and change is inevitable
  • Teams are still spreading developers thin to have the skills to be both building and deploying apps, and devops skills are in higher demand than supply. Every company is different and you cannot copy-and-paste solutions or skills across orgs
  • New cloud tools like serverless and edge computing mean the skills are evolving from the Chef/Ansible/kubernetes playbooks of the last decade

Our answer: fundamentally, at Coherence we believe that DevOps is still an unsolved problem and a critical discipline for most teams. The idea that delivery is going to take work is still relevant. The idea that your software is different from other software is still relevant. The idea that your devs and product and biz team need to be part of the loop is still relevant. 

As for what is next for the industry, we agree that serverless and edge are here to stay and will see wider adoption over the next decade. A focus on developer experience, productivity, and cross-org consistency will lead to continued evolution in both small and large projects.

Overall, the assessment in the twitter space seems to be that:

  • DevOps is still relevant, whatever we call it there is still work to be done that fits into what “DevOps teams” have been doing. They call out that SRE is not going away at Google.
  • As for what is next and how to solve problems teams face today, they suggest you just need to put in the work on every team to build the relevant skills and expertise to adapt best practices to both existing and new projects and technologies. And that you need deep experts in order to learn new skills quicker and fit them into a framework of best practices. For teams with a deep bench of talent to develop, the resources and time to develop it, and the experts to be their mentors, this is the best path forward.

Where we challenge the assessment is on two key points:

  • Instant gratification is not realistic. But you need results today. So you need tools that help you learn while maybe letting you get things done ahead of your skill level. How do you borrow skills from experts in a production-ready way, when you don’t have access to those experts yourself? And when there aren’t enough experts out there for everyone! How do you get results when you don’t have a complete enough understanding?
  • Serverless and edge are a big shift from the technologies used perspective. But from a workflow/SDLC perspective, they aren’t as big a change. Teams still need to define, develop, test, integrate, deploy, operate, etc. And these are the core skills of the best “DevOps” teams out there.

TLDR; DevOps is hard. Your devs are asking you to do better. Your roadmap is full. You don’t have the luxury to get a PhD in devops. We're building Coherence so that your team can have a production grade toolchain configured and managed for you, in your own cloud. Try Coherence at no cost, today!