The year 2019 will bring new approaches to increase software development productivity and better align development teams and organizations, according to a recent report by research firm Forrester. Among the new approaches are cloud native, value stream management and artificial intelligence-based tools.

“New platforms for cloud-native app architectures, value stream management tools, and infusing artificial intelligence (AI) into testing are among the breakout technologies we expect in 2019,” the research firm wrote in a 2019 software predictions report.

2018 saw the start and increase in interest in cloud-native technologies and tools. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation released a report in September that found the use of cloud-native technologies in production grew more than 200 percent since the beginning of the year. The CNCF states, “Cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.” In addition, the CNCF explains cloud-native systems must be container packaged, dynamically managed and microservices-oriented.

2019 will be the breakout year for cloud-native technologies as cloud vendors start to bring microservices to the masses and blur the lines between container-based and serverless approaches, according to Forrester.

“From a software development perspective, the cloud offers simplicity, velocity, elasticity, collaboration, and rapid innovation that isn’t easily replicated, if at all possible, using traditional on-premises tools. And if you are going to be hosting on the cloud, why not develop in the cloud to make sure your development environment is as close to your run time environment as possible?” said Christopher Condo, senior analyst for Forrester. “Everyone is coming to grips with the fact that some portion of their business will be hosted in the cloud, so they then make the logical leap to say if we’re hosting this particular feature or product in the cloud, let’s go ahead and develop in the cloud as well.”

Value stream management is another term that started gaining traction towards the end of 2018. It refers to an effort to align business goals and visualize the end-to-end development of pipelines. According to Forrester, visual stream management tools are designed to capture, visualize and analyze critical information about speed and quality during the software product creation process. The research firm predicts value stream management will become the new dashboard for DevOps teams in 2019.

“When we started researching these tools in 2017/2018, we weren’t even sure if the term Value Stream Management would resonate. But it has, because the development community has been doing their homework on Lean software development and realizes that in order to improve, you need to measure end-to-end performance over time,” said Condo. “They also recognize that delivering value is why they build software to begin with, so these tools are a natural complement to a DevOps tool chain. Once these tools grow in use, we’ll need to be on the lookout for practitioners being too focused on KPIs and not enough on delivering value to the customer.”

As AI continues to advance, Forrester also sees new AI-based tools emerging in 2019 to provide better insights into development and testing. “Digital acceleration won’t happen without higher-quality software. Despite improved automation with traditional UI and API testing, the field as a whole is still lagging,” Forrester wrote in its report. “Can AI help augment testers and automate testing? You bet; a whopping 37% of developers are already using AI and machine learning (ML) to test better and faster to increase quality.”

DevOps initiatives will still struggle in 2019
Despite Forrester declaring DevOps the new norm, the approach will still face its set of challenges throughout the new year.

“DevOps remains a very active topic of customer inquiry. The questions have shifted, but not declined. Five years ago people were asking ‘what is it,’ and three years ago they were asking “how can I get started?” Now they are asking ‘how do we scale it out? What do we do with ITIL? Can and should we shift entirely to integrated product teams? What about governance, risk, and compliance?’” said Charles Betz, principal analyst at Forrester. “It’s a period of great experimentation and learning, which we anticipate will continue for some years more before best practices start to stabilize.”

Forrester predicts 2019 will be the year of DevOps governance and technology rationalization.

“Issues of risk and governance, including security, change management, and quality control, will take center stage. Impacted by these challenges and increased DevOps vendor competition, enterprises will also emphasize toolchain standardization and more-seamless automation,” the research firm wrote in its 2019 DevOps predictions report provided to SD Times.

As a result of the need for governance, Forrester sees fewer businesses cobbling together their own DevOps toolchains and instead turning to more integrated solutions for improved consistency and compliance. “This will force players from multiple spaces to compete,” Forrester wrote.

In addition, Forrester expects DevOps will experience a major security breach in 2019. “Continuous delivery toolchains are powerful — perhaps too powerful. If an attacker gains access to the toolchain, the entire infrastructure, both upstream and downstream, is at risk,” the firm wrote.

According to Forrester, a major security breach to the DevOps toolchain will result in businesses investing more in governance and risk analytics as well as the adoption in privileged identity management. “It will also prompt more ‘policy as code’ and secure integration between discrete parts of the development and continuous delivery toolchain,” Forrester wrote.

Other DevOps predictions for the next year include: 25 percent of openings for skilled DevOps engineers will go unfilled, mean time-to-resolution rates will increase, and businesses will start to revolt against legacy operational processes.

“In 2019, firms will face increasing complexity and risk as they attempt to scale their DevOps initiatives. This will force them to create more holistic technical, organizational, and governance strategies to address serious capability gaps and better manage risk,” Forrester wrote.