DevOps Trends for 2021
DevOps has changed the way that apps are delivered to end users and stakeholders. It has gone from a methodology to a full-on job title. 2021 is shaping up to be a watershed for how applications are built and delivered, compared to the last 5 years. Here are some trends that I have observed over the last year, and some thoughts on how they will progress as the year goes on.
WordPress Is Dying
And I could not be happier. WordPress has failed to innovate and adapt for a headless world. Rendering a page every time someone hits your site is misallocation of valueable computing resources. It is a pain to host in a truly cloud native way, DevOps for WordPress is a time consuming affair that, more often than not leads to diminishing returns, and overall it’s just a bloated platform with a poorly moderated theme and plugin community. More people are moving to different stacks for two-thirds of common WordPress use cases. I will be happy when less and less sites run WordPress. Have a look at my 5 Reasons WordPress Sucks clog post if you want to read how I really feel on the matter.
The Jamstack: Getting Back to Basics
The Jam in Jamstack stands for Java Script, API, and Microservices. This very website is Jamstack. I moved rickconlee.com from WordPress to Hugo in Janurary of 2021 because my WordPress instance was seeing a lot more traffic, and the server I was hosting it on was seeing a lot of demand. While I love the fact that I was getting a ton more traffic, the inefficencies of WordPress were killing me despite my best efforts to be as resource efficent as possible.
In a traditional CMS setup, you have:
- The CMS itself, likely written in PHP or a simalar language
- A Database
- The server you need to host the CMS and the database
- In some cases, you have a CDN to deliver content, do image optimization, etc
In the jamstack, you dont have to depend on a database. In the case of Hugo, I write my posts, check them into Git, then from there my hosting company (Netlify) builds the actual site, and moves it into the hosting environment. The process is completely transparent to me. I check in a new article, like this one, into Github - a few minutes later it is live on the internet.
Jamstack websites are far more DevOps friendly, and are designed to work in DevOps pipelines natively without having to do anything special like you would for something like WordPress.
The Jamstack is pretty easy to get into, and Hugo makes that process so much easier. The templating engine is intuitive, and it can generate pages for thousands of articles in a vrey short period of time. If I need to move this site to a different hosting outfit, I just pick up the .public/ folder and copy it to a hosting company of my choosing. I can choose something like Amazon S3, Digital Ocean Spaces, Cloudflare’s static hosting platform, or some run of the mill commodity cpanel hosting company. My flexibility is limitless, and I truly own my data and the end product.
You can learn more about Jamstack by heading over to jamstack.org
Usage Based Billing
I touch on resource efficency a lot in this, and a great many other blog posts and articles I have written. IF you run a SaaS platform for your clients, or are using certain cloud services like AWS, you are aware that what you are getting billed is based by hour of usage, or by minute, by the gigabyte, or by the number of API calls. This is a very resource efficent costing strategy, because you only pay for what you use. You are not paying a flat fee wherein you are paying for idle resources. On a technical level, it is much easier to cost out these services to your clients because you dont need to come up with a blended or magic number that encapsulates most use cases. You know that if your customers are consuming X number of units of service, that your cost will be Y, and you can mark that up accordingly.
I am seeing more and more per/x billing out there, and less “all in” pricing for certain levels of service.
The only place I see usage based billing facing any sort of resistance is State/Federal/Local govenrment. WHen governments bid out for services, they want an all in cost for budgeting purposes. Until governments change how they handle the budget process at the state, federal and local levels, we will still see 2 tiered pricing structures - one of government, one for the private sector.
Focus On Security
In 2020, there were some very notable security intrusions that captured the attention of the IT, business and government communities. There was that Managed IT Service Provider in Upstate New York that was compromised through their Kaseya MSP toolkit, which affected multiple managed service providers, a minincipality and an international airport. The other big one that touched a few of my collegues in the Managed IT world was the Solar Winds Supply Chain Attack. Together, and with countless other attacks that affected vast swaths of business and government services, there is a greater focus on security.
We can expect to see more of the following security practices being baked into DevOps:
- Container level security
- More private container registries running some sort of container signing authority
- Security scans being baked into delivery pipelines, and in other areas throughout the CI/CD process
- New or updated security standards focused solely on containerized applications
- An increase of hiting in the DevSecOps space
“Low Code” or “No Code” Development
While the world belongs to those who understand how to harness data and build something for their clients, or themselves, there is this shift moving to low or “no code” development platforms so those who don’t have development skills can implement solutions rapidly and with a low learning curve.
Citizen developers are quickly moving into roles that were traditionally occupied by trained developers. THere will still be a rold for traditional and trained developers, that demand is not going away any time soon, but we will see more citizen developers filling roles in companies as 2021 carries on.
We are still very early in 2021, but already I am starting to see these trends quickly angle themselves to become mainstays. While nothing can be predicted with any level of certainty, this is what I see for the state of DevOps in 2021.