Blog DevSecOps Welcome to the DevOps Platform era
Published on: August 3, 2021
6 min read

Welcome to the DevOps Platform era

GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij reflects on the evolution of DevOps and the emergence of the DevOps Platform as the solution for businesses wanting to deliver software faster, more securely, and at a lower cost.


DevOps has evolved since its infancy, over a decade ago. Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget believed human cognitive development has four stages (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational). Through each of these stages, the human mind obtains new knowledge while building and modifying memories to inform one's understanding of the world around them.

In the same way that people go through stages as they grow, markets and industries also go through stages of development. Over the years, DevOps has grown into a mature, business-critical practice.

As the DevOps industry expanded, so did the number and complexity of tool-project integrations within an organization. This was the result of three developments in DevOps:

  1. Companies moved from monolithic architectures to microservices architectures. By doing so, applications could scale independently, allowing teams to move faster.
  2. The faster delivery of software also required companies to use more DevOps tools per project.
  3. The linear growth of both or more projects and more tools per project led to an exponential increase in the number of project-tool integrations.

This increase in project-tool integrations called for a change in the way organizations adopted DevOps tools. At GitLab, we identified four phases of evolution in the adoption of DevOps tools over time.

Phase 1 - Siloed DevOps

In this early phase, each department or team built or purchased their own tools in isolation, which they optimized for their own narrow objectives, without explicitly coordinating with others. This led to a "Siloed DevOps" environment that caused problems when teams tried to work together because they were not familiar with the tools of the other teams. It is common for organizations at this level of maturity to have multiple duplicative sets of tooling for common DevOps functions like planning, source code management, and CI/CD. The chaotic environment slows down collaboration and knowledge sharing or stops it altogether.

Phase 2 - Fragmented DevOps

The need for less chaos and more harmony drove organizations to the second phase, Fragmented DevOps. In this phase, organizations standardized on the same set of tools across the organization. Typically, there was one preferred tool for each stage of the DevOps lifecycle. Teams within the same function could collaborate better, but the tools were not connected between stages. As an example, planning was standardized and deployment was standardized, but each stage was still siloed from each other. It was hard to move through the DevOps lifecycle.

Phase 3 - DIY DevOps

Organizations that tried to remedy this by manually integrating their DevOps point solutions together reached the third phase, "DIY DevOps". Unfortunately – as many DIYers will know all too well – when you try to put together many different parts that were never designed to work with each other, the end results never fit quite right. In the same way, homegrown toolchains create complex workflows that slow down the development process — and overall cycle time. For many organizations, maintaining DIY DevOps toolchains requires significant effort, resulting in higher costs, slower cycle times, and opportunities for vulnerabilities to be targeted.

Phase 4 - The DevOps Platform era

The true potential of DevOps was not fully realized in the first three phases. That's why I am proud that GitLab is the leader in enabling the fourth phase, the DevOps Platform era. The DevOps Platform is a single application with one user interface and a unified data store. It includes every stage of the DevOps lifecycle and brings together development, operations, and security teams. It allows these groups to collaboratively plan, build, secure, and deploy software. As a result, this improves businesses' velocity, efficiency, and security, allowing them to deliver software faster and at a lower cost.

The future of DevOps

When I think about the future of DevOps, three things stand out. First, I believe that a platform solution with embedded security _ is_ the future. Security that is built-in, not bolt-on, is needed to secure a software supply chain from end-to-end without sacrificing speed for security.

For example, the world's most trusted hacker-powered security company, HackerOne, is using The DevOps Platform. With GitLab, they've been able to replace their DIY toolchain and shift security left. HackerOne is now catching security flaws early and getting immediate feedback since security is built into the developer's workflow.

In May, the U.S. government issued a new policy aimed at securing both the private and public sector software supply chains against malicious cyberattacks. Now is the time to make security a fundamental part of your DevOps journey. In today's landscape, you need to secure 100% of your applications every time they get updated. The only practical way to do that is to integrate security into the platform.

Second, I believe that machine learning will be critical in making the DevOps workflow faster. In the GitLab 2021 DevSecOps survey, 75% of respondents reported that their DevOps teams are using or planning to use machine learning or AI for testing and code review. In June, GitLab announced the acquisition of a machine learning-based solution called UnReview. This acquisition and continued machine learning integration will automate workflows and compress the DevOps cycle time. GitLab is focused on using machine learning to reduce friction in your work, so you can spend more time innovating.

Third, I believe DevOps platform adoption will accelerate. Gartner predicts that by 2023, 40% of organizations will have switched from multiple point solutions to a platform in order to streamline application delivery. Gartner's prediction is an increase from the base of 10% or less using a DevOps Platform in 2020. GitLab customers often tell us that DIY toolchains are too complicated. If you're feeling that way too, it's time to choose a path to simplicity. The fastest way to get there is with the DevOps Platform.

You don't need to rip and replace to get started. Many customers began their GitLab journey with Source Code Management and CI. When they were ready, GitLab helped them to replace the rest of their DIY DevOps. When you're ready, GitLab will work with you and GitLab's partner ecosystem to help you achieve your DevOps objectives on your schedule.

Just like human cognitive development, DevOps has evolved thanks to combined experiences and new knowledge as it became available. I'm grateful to the innovators before us with the same goal: To make DevOps more efficient and collaborative.

Join us at GitLab Virtual Commit

Want more DevOps? Tune in virtually at GitLab Commit August 3-4, 2021. Watch a video of the keynote address this blog post is based on:

Read more about the DevOps Platform:

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