As a discipline, IT operations has been around for decades. But it's continually evolving, which means the ITOps tools and practices you may use today could become obsolete in the not too distant future.
To prove the point, here's a look at five trends that are currently reshaping ITOps, and what they mean for the way IT engineers should think and work.
1. Hybrid Cloud
The idea of combining on-premises resources with public cloud resources as part of a hybrid strategy is not new. People were talking about hybrid cloud at least a decade ago.
What has changed today, however, is that hybrid cloud has evolved into a predominant cloud computing strategy, with more than 60% of businesses reporting hybrid cloud strategies as of 2021.
For IT engineers, this means that learning how to support hybrid clouds is an essential, general skill. It's no longer something you only have to know if you work for one of the minority of businesses that, in the past, used hybrid clouds.
Just five years ago, observability was a word that hardly anyone in IT used. Now, it's a mainstream practice.
Reasonable people can debate to what extent observability is actually different from monitoring, and to what extent it's a mere buzzword. That point aside, however, it's arguably crucial for every IT engineer today to be able to, at a minimum, speak the language of observability. This means knowing the differences between logs, metrics, and traces. It also means understanding the nuances of observability in complex, multilayered platforms, such as Kubernetes.
AIOps is like observability in that it's arguably, at least in part, a buzzword without a lot of meat behind it.
But also like observability, the AIOps mindset has profoundly changed ITOps in general. Whether or not you think AIOps is just a fancy new word for automations that existed before Gartner coined the term "AIOps," the fact is that you need to be able to talk and think in terms of leveraging data analytics to automate IT operations — the practice at the core of AIOps.
You may also want to read up on NoOps — a concept that takes AIOps to the extreme by using AI to automate IT operations completely. It's doubtful that NoOps will ever be fully realized, but it's still a valuable concept to know.
4. Everything as Code
Five or 10 years ago, a list of trends reshaping IT operations would have included infrastructure as code, or IaC. IaC uses code-based policy files to automate infrastructure provisioning.
Today, however, IaC is merely one example of a broader movement sweeping IT operations: everything as code, which aims to automate every IT process to the full extent possible using code. Everything as code lets you manage not just infrastructure, but also things like access control rules, data lifecycles, and network configurations, using code.
The point here is that modern IT engineers should think of automated, code-based configuration as the default approach for any IT workflow.
5. Site Reliability Engineering
Last but not least is site reliability engineering, or SRE. Although the SRE concept dates back to the early 2000s, when Google invented it, it has only been in the past few years that businesses in general have begun embracing the idea and implementing SRE roles.
SRE is not the same as IT operations, and IT engineers need not transform themselves into site reliability engineers. But they should know what SREs do and how they interface with SREs. The more you understand SRE, the better positioned you'll be to support your business if it decides to hire site reliability engineers to work alongside you.
Conclusion: Getting a Handle on Today's ITOps Trends
The world of ITOps is changing fast — so fast that some of the trends can be easy to miss until they've already played out. That's why, if you're not yet in tune with shifts like the emergence of AIOps and everything as code, or you still think SRE is just a thing Google does, now's the time to take stock of the change that is all around the ITOps ecosystem.