It goes without saying that 2020 was a unique year in our history.

COVID-19 turned our world upside down and fundamentally changed how our world operates. At NextLink Labs, we have witnessed many of these changes firsthand. We have seen companies go through acceleration in their digital transformation, specifically in the area of DevOps.

DevOps is an area that was already changing rapidly and enjoyed a tremendous increase in adoption and improvements in 2020. We think that 2021 will be filled with even more innovation as companies continue in the digital transformation and work to adopt DevOps.

Here are 5 DevOps trends we think will continue in 2021.

Accelerated Adoption

Our world is becoming increasingly digital.

In a year that saw more and more businesses becoming remote first and remote friendly, the link that increasingly enables the workforce to succeed is technology.

With this, cloud workloads are growing in number and complexity. These applications are increasingly built out with microservice architectures that can be difficult to manage for many teams.

DevOps provides benefits to scalability, reliability, and security of infrastructure. As such, teams must adopt a DevOps mindset in order to maintain secure and scalable systems. We see more and more teams realizing this in 2021 and this will accelerate the adoption of DevOps.

Infrastructure as Code Continues as the Standard

Infrastructure as Code is the management of computers, databases, and other assets as code whether they are located in the cloud or on premise.

It provides a declarative way to define and configure software systems. With tools like Hashicorp Terraform and AWS Cloudformation, teams can remove manual interaction with systems and truly create reusable building blocks of infrastructure.

As DevOps implementers, we consider the use of Infrastructure as Code to be core to every team. In a world where the number of systems in use has quickly accelerated, without Infrastructure as Code, it would be nearly impossible to securely and sustainably manage them. Infrastructure as Code also versions your infrastructure and configuration management in a way that provides many benefits for teams.

Infrastructure as Code"

Among these benefits are having a clear source of record, increasingly ephemeral architecture, easier cloud native adoption, and gaining the ability to make widespread changes to infrastructure very easily.

With additional teams realizing these benefits, we think Infrastructure as Code will continue to be one of the standard aspects of DevOps in 2021 and the future.

Security Focus DevOps

As Infosec continues to evolve, security is coming to the forefront of all teams.

No company wants to deal with business and financial effects of a breach, and many companies are now working hard to secure their digital systems. As companies educate their teams on how to keep information and systems secure, DevOps is no exception.

As the core team responsible for deploying and maintaining infrastructure as well as configuring and storing the secrets for applications that are deployed, DevOps teams must continue to keep security top of mind.

We see DevOps not as an obstacle to secure workloads but as an enabler. Both Security and DevOps teams want clear processes in place and tight configurations implemented on servers and cloud access. These teams will continue to work together to make sure infrastructure and applications are deployed in an increasingly automated, auditable, and secure manner.

With the focus on security, this may change the way DevOps teams operate to be more of a balance between process and speed. Many companies may evaluate if they really need to be deploying software many times per day and if this keeps their security and compliance goals in mind.

Regardless of where these teams end up, it’s inevitable that security will factor into every DevOps team’s decisions in 2021.


With the increase in cloud native infrastructure, an operating model is required.

As we have mentioned, with microservice architectures being increasingly popular there are becoming many more things to manage. With Kubernetes and other cloud native infrastructure tools being declarative they can be managed as code. As a result, this declarative model can be defined in code and checked into source control.

GitOps is this approach of treating a git repository as the single source of truth and using already established git workflows like merge/pull requests in order to make changes to infrastructure.

Having a single source of truth, a secure repository that teams are already familiar with, and an established workflow that promotes change reviews and approvals makes it easier to adopt DevOps. Additionally, it moves DevOps infrastructure management closer to the development teams purview.

With more and more teams needing to add some order to their process, the adoption of GitOps will increase in 2021.

Kubernetes Tooling will Continue to Evolve

We love Kubernetes.

The power Kubernetes brings to build incredibly complex cloud native infrastructure can not be understated.

However working in Kubernetes can also be a little cumbersome at times.

Kubernetes will continue to grow

Being a relatively new technology, the supporting tools for Kubernetes are relatively new. The tools currently get the job done, but reality (and in practice) they still leave a lot to be desired. Cloud operators and practitioners will continue to create new tools and evolve old ones in 2021, which should be to the benefit of many in the tech community.

Specifically we think tools focused around visibility, secrets management, and data science will continue to pop up. As zero trust networking becomes more of the standard, we also see increased adoption of tooling that supports this area.

Right now tools like Hashicorp Consul and Hashicorp Vault help make this possible, but you should expect to see more and more tools pop up to compete and make life easier for Kubernetes implementers.

With Kubernetes continuing its strong growth, 2021 may be a very big year for tools that support it.

Are you ready for 2021?

As you can see, there are many trends going on in the world of DevOps.

We see some underlying themes to them as more and more companies must focus on security, find ways to handle the growing number of IT assets, and make it easier for teams to work together efficiently.

We know the world of DevOps can be a bit overwhelming at first.

If you’d like to stop struggling to secure and operate your cloud workloads and would like some help to do it right, contact us for a free consultation.