Blog Insights 2022 DevOps predictions: GitLab experts weigh in on AI, security, remote work, and more
Published on December 6, 2021
9 min read

2022 DevOps predictions: GitLab experts weigh in on AI, security, remote work, and more

Want to see into the DevOps future? We’ve got insights to share, including the challenges for AI/ML and the impact of cloud-native on DevSecOps.


2022 is set to be a big year for DevOps, especially when it comes to integrating AI and machine learning, pushing security further left in the development cycle, and expanding opportunities for open source and remote work. We’ve gathered eight predictions from the top minds here at GitLab about the DevOps platform and the DevOps industry overall.

1. AI/ML adoption will increase and will be instrumental in addressing supply chain issues and labor shortages.

Taylor McCaslin, Group Manager, Product - ModelOps & Anti-Abuse, says:

“We’re going to see increased adoption of AI/ML across all industries. With the labor and supply chain shortages and dramatic shifts in climate-related events, companies globally are having to learn to do more with less in even more dynamic environments. AI/ML is well-suited to solve some of these complex problems in industries we may not have expected [adoption from] this early.

We have started seeing governments embrace AI/ML technologies. When you think about it, governments are by definition inefficient, but they hold a lot of data that’s ripe territory for AI/ML to make an impact. Take the Internal Revenue Service in the U.S., for example. ML applied to process paper tax returns or to look for anomalies could reduce costs and increase revenue from catching tax fraud and data entry mistakes. Also, with Covid-19 not looking like it will go away anytime soon, there are huge data problems that are well suited for AI/ML in tracking and proving vaccination status. The list for AI/ML is endless.

AI/ML still is a specialty field. So businesses need to have clear use cases for hiring data science teams and setting them up for success to deploy models into production. We still see friction between traditional DevOps technologies and new data science platforms slowing time to value and increasing the cost of developing AI/ML technologies, but those problems are becoming more understood and we’ll see that gap shorten over time reducing cost and complexities.”

2. Businesses will continue to integrate security more tightly into DevOps and create DevSecOps teams to reduce risk, speed deployment, and gain a competitive advantage.

Johnathan Hunt, Vice President of Security, says:

“The DevSecOps practice will continue to increase in 2022 as more organizations understand the efficiencies and improved security of this strategy. Further, those that are currently leveraging DevSecOps as part of their development practice are realizing the benefits with fewer vulnerabilities, faster deployments, less time spent in corrective actions, and an overall reduction of risk. Ultimately, this will provide companies with a differentiated approach, leading to competitive advantages in their space.

DevSecOps is important to prioritize due to the increased threat landscape that remote work models introduce. It is imperative that companies focus on transformative ways to protect their product and data to effectively manage their overall risk posture. DevSecOps is a proven strategy that reduces risk and security incidents while allowing faster and more secure code deployments.”

3. Two of the biggest buzzwords of 2021 will take divergent paths next year: Kubernetes will play a fundamental role in DevSecOps, while zero trust will see only moderate gains.

Hunt says:

“DevOps users have come to realize the benefits of operating security controls natively within Kubernetes rather than separate tools and separate teams adding steps to the process. This is a fundamental component to furthering the DevSecOps story. Additionally, the Kubernetes platform is continuing to evolve and adapt to the need for greater control and automation within reach of DevOps users leading to the natural and highly advantageous shift left strategy.

Meantime, although we are seeing an increase in the implementation of certain zero trust principles, overall the industry has been slow to respond. Much of this is due to the understanding, complexity, and difficulty of implementing full zero-trust models within the tech stack. I predict 2022 will, at best, see a moderate gain in the adoption of zero trust.”

4. Secure software supply chain will become a standard element of security strategy for government organizations.

Bob Stevens, Area Vice President of Public Sector, says:

“Federal agencies are starting to tackle software supply chain security, spurred by guidance from NIST and actions outlined in Executive Orders issued in early 2021. While these guidelines are critical to success, agencies will rise to the challenge of implementing new security measures instead of waiting to act. Regardless of the publication of final guidance, CIOs will implement actions for software supply chain security to proactively defend their agencies. CIOs know that enhancing cyber defenses immediately is crucial to outsmarting adversaries, and they will not delay in enacting change. Once guidelines are final, CIOs will adjust their policies to meet best practices.

To ensure security in the software supply chain, people, processes, and technologies need to work together in unison. This includes code that has been examined by numerous security personnel, build processes that take place in the open, and high-quality software that is tested and trusted. Software factories and contractors that work with them will also need to put in place a comprehensive and continuously monitored software bill of materials (SBOM), allowing everyone touching the software to fully understand the dependencies and vulnerabilities of their ecosystems.

A DevOps platform can address many important security considerations. With security scanners built into the development process, agencies can scan every line of code as it is committed, allowing developers to identify and remediate vulnerabilities before they are pushed.“

5. Cloud adoption will extend to other parts of the development life cycle, including developers’ own environments.

Brendan O’Leary, Staff Developer Evangelist, says:

“I still see a lot of enterprises or individual teams that find themselves at various phases of DevOps. So I believe that 2022 will bring a shift towards platforms - either through DIY or adoption of a DevOps platform. We’ll see more adoption of cloud technologies for other parts of the development lifecycle as well, such as developers’ own environments.”

6. Open source will grow beyond a common software development practice to a full business model embraced by organizations.

Cesar Saavedra, Technical Marketing Manager, says:

“Open source growth will continue in the future, and not just as a way to develop software but also as a business model. Not only have companies realized the need to be digital leaders to be successful in the market, but also large commercial vendors are becoming open source and switching to this business model to stay competitive and open-source startups have caught the interest of investors. Open source is taking over the software market. In fact, the Open Source Services Market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of ~21.75% with a value expected to reach $66.84 billion by 2026. Another proof point of this growth is that recent surveys show that the most popular container images are all based on open source software, which indicates this growing adoption trend of open source.

Adopting open source into your business model is a complex decision and process. If you’re a successful company with a proprietary software product, it’s just a matter of time before a competitor with an open source offering will appear in your market segment. In this case, you will most likely need to switch your business model to one suited for open source software. For example, you will need to switch from license+subscription revenues to just subscription. Another big decision to make is whether or not to open source your software. Many software products that started as proprietary software converted to open source licensing, e.g. Adobe Flex, Visual Studio Code, .NET framework, PowerShell, Solaris. Open sourcing your software product usually goes hand-in-hand with adopting an open source business model of subscription-based revenues.

You also will need to contribute back to the open source community by making your enhancements and fixes to your product available in your open source project. In fact, to be successful in the open source market, you have to commit resources to help develop open source projects.”

7. The open source community will grow significantly as a result of the acceleration of digital-first and cloud-native companies.

Saavedra says:

“The cloud helped accelerate the adoption of open source software because it allowed companies to scale up without incurring large costs in software licensing (open source subscription models are less expensive than proprietary software). Furthermore, open source software fosters collaboration among the brightest minds no matter where around the globe they reside, bringing together the power of the community and benefiting developers, organizations, and vendors alike. As a result, developers and organizations continue to adopt and contribute to open source projects due to a low entry barrier, accessibility, and cost. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this adoption even more due to the switch to remote work by organizations that now have access to a new set of developer talent well versed in open source. The acceleration of digital-first and cloud-native companies will increase the use of open source, which will, in turn, demand more and more open source developers. The result will be an increase in the size of the open source community worldwide.”

8. All-remote will become a prevailing work environment as a means to attract and retain talent.

Darren Murph, Head of Remote, says:

“All-remote and all-colocated will become the prevailing environments. Hybrid-remote will be broadly tested but will be rife with friction and dysfunction due to a lack of understanding in its implementation. The terminology also will evolve. For some organizations, hybrid will end up meaning ‘remote-first with an office for special events,’ while those who attempt to force knowledge workers into a more rigid in-office schedule will struggle to retain employees.

Dedicated leadership surrounding remote transitions and overall future-of-work strategy will increase in 2022. What GitLab pioneered has served as a blueprint for organizations like Facebook, Dropbox, Okta, LinkedIn, VMWare, and other tech firms. Next year, industries beyond tech will begin to embrace remote work and create awareness for the intrinsic link between organizational design and talent brand. Organizations that rigidly force knowledge workers back into the office will see above-average attrition rates. With two years of remote work habits being ingrained, top talent will demand continued flexibility. Many organizations that have resisted investing in creating excellent remote work infrastructure will be forced to do so to compete with more flexible rivals.

A well-built remote work plan will be seen as a hedge against future crises. Just as organizations are currently expected to have succession and security plans, having a remote work strategy will be critical to business continuity. Organizations will also need to work hard to establish psychological safety. As people resume social gatherings, employers have an opportunity to lean into the culture that is built outside of work and create strategies for that to be shared within the workplace.”

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