A year in DevOps, 2016

19/12/2016   Industry insights   LinuxRecruit community  

DevOps as a movement has really hit the mainstream, with the rise (and rise and rise) of consultancies bringing DevOps into the Enterprise and we’re seeing organisations of all shapes and sizes achieving some great things.

Looking ahead to 2017, it seems that people are convinced of the ‘power’ of DevOps, and are widening its scope into security, testing and business planning.

The Enterprise side has been more cautious in transformation, with adoption tending to focus on isolated projects, but we have seen a continued massive boom in public sector, which hopefully will do enough to clear a path for other organisations that are still being cautious. I think it remains to be seen whether DevOps can always work in the Enterprise setting - it could be argued after a couple of years of debating and doing, it still isn’t fundamentally clear. There are still cultural challenges to surmount, but we are seeing some great advancements.

It’s certainly an exciting period, with new ideas and tools arriving on the scene (at what seems like a daily pace!). We are spending a lot of time with companies to help guide them through what they need from their next hire and how to best structure their teams - and equally, we are always learning from the clients and candidates we talk to every day. This is a fun, if slightly breathless pace to run at, but as long as everyone involved is content to listen and learn from each other, I think 2017 will be just as exciting.

On the technology side, 2016 is certainly the year of the Containers, with the hype around Docker that we saw last year going mainstream with organisations now using it in production and seeing the benefits.

As containers have become more popular, we’ve seen more orchestration and scheduling solutions. Presently, Kube/Mesos/Docker Swarm are the most popular, but we are also hearing more noise from Nomad and of course Amazon ECS is still widely used. This growing ecosystem is great to see - while the choice might make the first steps into the world of containers a little more daunting, the growing maturity of these solutions and excellent communities in Meetups, Slack channels etc, mean that more organisations can find the right solutions for their needs - and as potential users grow, so will the tools, and features within these tools.

One thing we’ve noticed is a change in Configuration Management tools. While Puppet, Chef or Ansible typically still features heavily in requirements we receive, it seems to have been pushed further down the list of priorities. Back in 2012/3, Config' Man' was a core and sometimes exclusive stipulation for any Engineer within DevOps, and was widely seen as one of the most technically challenging areas of Operations. While the principles of Configuration Management remain just as important to running a complex distributed system, it seems that improvements in tooling and resources have changed how centrally Config' Man' is outlined in typical DevOps engineering roles these days, with the emphasis no longer on "Do they have Puppet?". There are also new options like Terraform and Containers arriving on the scene that offer different solutions to managing configuration needs. These alternative solutions have seemed to become more central to hiring requirements than Configuration Management tools like Chef and Ansible, and it will be interesting to see how this technical skill set continues to evolve into 2017 and beyond.

We’re also seeing a similar diversification in the cloud space, with AWS losing market share to Azure, with Azure making a big push into Linux. More flexible solutions eliminate the risk of provider lock-in, and add benefit through the elastic pay-as-you-use pricing, and looks set to grow and grow in 2017. Where this time last year 90% of our open positions with a Cloud requirement were AWS based, this percentage has reduced to approximately 80%, and we’re seeing more cloud agnostic approaches to IaaS, which we expect to see further diversify in 2017.

However, typically from organisations earlier on in their transformation, we are still hearing unrealistic requirements for candidates with ‘10 years of experience in Kubenetes/DevOps’ etc. But as the industry matures, and the tooling ecosystem diversifies even further, hopefully, we’ll start to move away from the ‘tool of the day’ mentality. Effective approaches to hiring will focus less on the ‘tick box’ approach of hiring for skill set, and towards mindset, with companies focusing their search for intelligent people who understand the systems they work on and can acquire new skills well. Focus on Mindset and Attitude, rather than Tools.

So what does 2017 look like? We're excited by the prospect of an ever developing calibre of Engineer, a forever increasing DevOps toolbox and many new faces joining the scene. We're excited by the possibilities being endless, by the challenges being extensive (particularly within recruitment) and the continued evolution of the community we know as DevOps.

We hope you have had a great 2016 and we wish you a prosperous 2017!