Earlier this year, I had the chance to reflect on what I saw at my clients in 2019. The state of Agile and DevOps is so different now compared to a few years back, which is amazing to see. I thought I’d share my perspective.  Of course, this is highly subjective as it is based on the clients I spoke to and worked with. As I have spent time in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia and across many industries, I still think this reflection might be of interest to some of you.

Before getting into the three major trends that I have seen, I want to say that I am really encouraged that the “method wars” seem to be over. Most organizations do not care so much about the specific method they use or how pure their DevOps or Agile is to some definition. Instead, they focus on results and progress. This is very much aligned with my personal position and made it a real pleasure working with my clients last year. There was a lot less dogma than only a few years earlier. I hope this continues into the rest of 2020.

Here are my three major areas that I have worked with my clients on:

DevOps team – I spent a lot of time this year creating solutions with DevOps teams that are as self-contained as feasible. It is surprising that we don’t yet have a common understanding on how to work with a full-stack cross functional team when you have to consider:

  • Solution delivery/development that is somewhat plan-able and often based on Scrum
  • Working with the ad-hoc nature of operations tasks based on Kanban
  • The work that is more platform related like infrastructure, CI/CD, middleware, integration
  • Transformational work or work to reduce technical debt

Getting the balance right between all these things within a team or splitting it into multiple teams has been a fascinating discussion with my clients. I am looking forward to seeing this at large scale in the future. Last year, this idea really became mainstream and more and more clients asked for this type of delivery – finally. Here is a simple systematic picture of the associated flow of work:

How to combine Dev and Ops type workflows

DevSecOps – For me security was always included in DevOps, but boy did I underestimate the magnitude of this. I’ve discussed security and the challenges in this space with nearly all my clients. I’ve also talked to security experts in the industry and learned so much more about what is happening in this space. I already had an appreciation for the need to secure your applications and your infrastructure (including the DevOps tools) but learning about the magnitude with which DevOps maturity increases the consumption of open source components and the speed of consumption blew my mind. And, the new thread vectors of people placing malicious code on purpose in open source components was something I hadn’t considered before. I, for one, will make sure all my solutions treat security as a primary concern.

Digital Decoupling – Last but not least, the idea of digital decoupling. With the new IT landscapes, many organizations are faced with the challenge of becoming less reliant on mainframes and finding ways to reconfigure their packaged software ecosystems in better ways. Data has become the new answer on how to decouple systems. Being able to work on the data layer instead of having to rely on APIs, ESBs and the likes has opened completely new ways to address this problem. The speed and agility with which you can create new functionality in this new architecture pattern is impressive. And by investing in the new stack and growing new architectures in an efficient way, we can slowly get rid of the legacy applications over time. All that while creating new functionality. Gone are the days of “like for like” upgrades or technology transformations which take months and years. And of course, the new architectures are being built based on Agile and DevOps ways of working, enabling our transformation.

All these three trends are not completely new, but are now truly center stage. I will continue to progress them with my clients and am looking forward to sharing my learnings with you. A super exciting year lies ahead to fully reap the benefits of these three trends coming together.

I have a feeling that this year I will spend more time with a smaller number of organizations and get into more day-to-day details. I am looking forward to that! Nothing is more motivating to me than achieving results and see an organization make progress towards better delivery of software-based solutions. And yes, getting my hands dirty with the messiness of “heritage”, a.k.a. legacy technologies.

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