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The future of DevOps

Allen Bernard Freelance writer
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There's more to DevOps than methodology. According to a recently released report from Forrester, future DevOps success will require organizations to undergo a mindset shift—embracing new tools, technologies, and practices that support teams working together toward a common goal.

DevOps represents the blending of software development and IT operations into a single, collaborative unit. Since its inception in the late 2000s, it has come to dominate how software moves from development into production.

“DevOps has become the default approach for most software-intensive organizations and is having an increasing effect on enterprise IT operating models,” reads Forrester's 2022 "Future of DevOps" report, released in June. “Unlike many flash-in-the-pan, hype-driven trends in IT, DevOps has made a real and sustained impact. It continues to transform how organizations of all sizes write, deploy, and operate software and produce digital value.”

Before DevOps, software developers simply handed off their work to IT and moved on to the next project. IT was then left to figure out how to best run and maintain the software they were given. This worked fine when applications were more or less static, changing little year to year. With the rise of digitalization, developers and IT staffers have struggled to meet increasingly demanding customer expectations for new features and functionalities.

“The idea that the computing system is an ongoing, living, breathing service that is going to be continually improved—that was absolutely the driver for DevOps,” said Forrester analyst Charles Betz, co-author of the report.

Although DevOps could be done in isolation, it is often paired with both agile development and automated continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines that rapidly move finished code into production. Like DevOps, agile has been widely adopted over the last decade to keep pace with end users' demands for change. Forrester finds that this agile-plus-DevOps approach will continue to evolve over the next five to 10 years, as companies identify new challenges and take creative and collaborative approaches to solving them.

DevOps comes of age

According to the report, there are many benefits to DevOps. Software changes that used to take days, weeks, or months are now routinely moved to production in a matter of hours. This has resulted in greater business agility by enabling rapid business-model transformation. And because DevOps helps keep downtime to a minimum, business resilience has also improved.

DevOps adoption is so widespread today that Betz believes its phenomenal growth curve is now leveling off, with most high-performing IT departments having incorporated DevOps into their operations. Going forward, said Betz, DevOps will become more about helping IT solve business problems quickly—as opposed to just making it run more smoothly.

“When you look at all the stuff that's spinning around [DevOps], it’s really a massive transformation in digital and IT operating models,” Betz said. “And now the leading edge of DevOps is the transition to the product-centric operating model.”


According to Betz, product teams are persistent, outcome-focused, collaborative, heterogeneous, and mostly autonomous. The “products” these teams are focused on vary widely. They could be goods, services (either internally or externally focused), ideas, methods, or anything else that “satisfies a want.”

To achieve this product focus, DevOps teams must be redefined by purpose—rather than function—going forward. There are four such types of teams (see

  1. Features teams, which are business- and end user-aligned
  2. Enabling teams, which are tasked with coaching and internal consulting
  3. Platform teams, which service the features team developers
  4. Complicated subsystem teams, which are aimed at specialty products, such as mainframes and other specialty hardware

Increasingly, these teams will not be led in the traditional way. Organizations are experimenting with collaborative leadership approaches that incorporate all the different areas that make up a particular team.


At its core, DevOps is about enabling collaborative problem solving using technology. It is a comprehensive operating model that is focused on outcomes instead of on processes. As such, teams can only get the most out of DevOps by understanding that DevOps represents more than a process for managing the handoff between developers and IT. In fact, for routine activities that are highly prescriptive in nature, DevOps doesn’t help very much.

“DevOps is about people,” Betz said in the report. “High-trust cultures perform better, and employees are more likely to endorse organizations that engage in flow-promoting DevOps practices.”

Cybersecurity and DevSecOps

As cyber criminals continue their relentless assaults on organizations of every size and pursuit, boardrooms around the globe are increasingly concerned with cybersecurity. With more automation moving more code into production faster than ever, ensuring that code is secure by design before it goes live is a greater challenge than ever.

Accordingly, DevOps-driven collaboration must include security considerations. Because the future of DevOps lies in people and collaboration, that future also lies partly in DevSecOps—where security is built in from the earliest stages of application development and deployment. According to the Forrester report, this early-stage collaboration between security, developers and operations teams will increase overall security and organizational agility.

Platforms and automation

Whereas DevOps depends on collaboration, IT typically runs on slow, error-prone processes that involve a lot of manual oversight and intervention. As DevOps becomes even more ingrained into the DNA of IT, routine tasks will be automated. Irregular, experience-orientated and nonsequential activities that require a high-degree of human input will “align around DevOps value-streams and be optimized for speed,” according to the report.

Automation will play an increasingly larger role in the evolution of DevOps. DevOps teams are migrating away from best-of-breed point solutions and instead adopting end-to-end integrated SDLC pipelines supported by dedicated platforms. In its report, Forrester predicts that these platforms will support MLOps, unified CI/CD/CDRA (continuous delivery and release automation) and the inclusion of low-code/no-code developers and platforms. The report adds that these platforms will extend to network edge devices.


Even though DevOps is now the de facto standard for IT operations in many organizations, there is still “far to go,” cautions Forrester. According to the report, to achieve success in the days ahead, IT and software development organizations will need to:

  • Stay focused on the business outcomes and KPIs that matter to the organization, not individual processes in isolation.
  • Shift focus from methodology to organizational design and operating model to counter the impacts on long-standing practices and governance.
  • Be flexible and patient. There is no-one size fits all solution. Every DevOps journey is as unique as the organization undertaking it.
  • Focus on culture, not just methods and workflows. DevOps is as much about trust and empowerment as it is about software development and IT operations.

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