Product Thinking, APIs and DevEx Fuel Cloud Native Evolution
Since 2023 is well underway and we’ve settled into the new year, we asked IT leaders representing a range of industries to reflect on the evolution of the cloud native landscape. We noticed some repeated themes, including improving developer experience by using a product mindset, fostering a platform engineering discipline to help reduce toil and disruption while implementing shift-left methodologies, expanding API use and API security, attracting and retaining top talent, bringing down cloud costs, and more.
What Change Do You Hope to See in the Industry in 2023?
“I hope that developer experience will be priority No. 1 for our industry in 2023. The trend of ‘shifting left’ has unintentionally caused developers to take on additional responsibilities, which can lead to a loss of focus on creating actual business value. The rise of platform engineering in 2022 has already helped to address this issue by streamlining the development process, improving documentation, enhancing performance and ensuring better security. These efforts can significantly reduce the cognitive load for DevOps teams and improve their productivity.”
— Thomas Rudrof, cloud platform engineer at DATEV eG
“In 2023, with the organizations that have already introduced a shift-left methodology, I hope to see far more being done in terms of central configuration management for developers to reduce the cognitive load on them in an ever-increasing platform landscape.”
— Firoze Bhorat, product owner for Dev/QA systems at Derivco
“The trend toward platform engineering and product teams created a lot of independent teams working on their individual missions; it also created the challenge of figuring out how to align teams to a unified company vision. I am a big fan of the product team model, but I hope for 2023 to find that holy grail of combining the independence and speed of product teams with the necessary alignment to move in the same direction. This will be the next big task for IT leaders. We will have to experiment a lot to find this way because ultimately, the agile principle of making experiments and testing the outcomes to see if they get you closer to the target is not only a software engineering concern, it’s also an organizational structure issue.”
— Juergen Sussner, cloud platform engineer/developer at DATEV eG
“In recent years, APIs have become increasingly important to a modern organization’s digital strategy, and this will be even more true in the next couple of years. A suitable access management system must be in place in order to guarantee that digital assets are distributed securely and that privacy is always maintained. It is essential to keep APIs secure and to ensure that only the intended user has access to the data provided through them. I hope API calls will be more widely used in the near future to access the system easily using the code.”
— Inderdeep Singh, senior manager for digital solutions at KPMG Canada
“Higher-order tools like Backstage embedded in enterprise-level products bring with them capabilities and tooling that previously had to be written by DevOps teams. Embracing Backstage for enterprise-level work should reduce the custom work that is currently done and open more tooling to everyone.”
— Jim Kohl, app/dev consultant at GAIG
How Is Your Organization Evolving?
“We are being directed to move to a containerized Kubernetes system in tandem with figuring out the upper layer and cloud strategy. We are committed to doing this in a platform-neutral way to avoid vendor lock-in, and this is steep terrain considering that some vendor offerings require heavier platform-specific components and customization. Once the platform neutrality has been solved, teams can continue to the primary goal of delivering great software functionality.
“The beautiful part of this is that the platform choice should not significantly impact the developer experience or culture as development practices are truly portable to any system selected.
“However, great care must be taken to choose and invest carefully in systems that do not require the developer to become involved with operational concerns. Kubernetes has a complexity that could spill into the developer space, so choosing the right layer above Kubernetes will also be part of the work. Avoid the toil and, along the way, keep the confusion down by having a solid solution path.”
“Our organization is committed to further implementing a tailored developer experience through our platform teams, which provide the necessary abstractions and tooling to provide ‘golden paths’ for our developers.”
“It has never been more crucial to have an effective identification and authorization process because users are accustomed to navigating digital systems without experiencing any friction. You can make many different access-control decisions throughout your architecture more easily by including identity information in tokens.
“For contemporary businesses, API security has risen to the top of the agenda. There is a range of API security implementations, though, and not all of them work well. Too frequently, APIs only use token-based authentication, API keys or HTTP basic authentication, omitting the crucial issue of identity. For fully developed APIs, a thorough identity focus is essential to preventing vulnerabilities and gaining efficiency advantages.
“I think more security parameters will need to be placed for API calls from vendor organizations as a resolution for better integrations with security.”
“Preapproved configs that can be used and have proper version tracking and documentation will stop the reinvention of platform-centric code within organizations.”
“I will spend more time training and improving myself and those around me as we explore new technologies and ways of working. This is the year of Kubernetes for us! So I resolve to provide teams the ability to build solutions against a Kubernetes dial tone, or a fully built PaaS with automated deployments, scaling, etc.”
— Jonathan Regehr, platform architect at Garmin
“In the war for talent, talent doesn’t apply to companies; companies apply to talent, and a great developer experience is one essential plus point. So platform teams will be important to create that fantastic developer experience. But just a good platform is not enough. It’s the whole package that matters when acquiring talent. Also think about remote versus in-office, company culture, job perspectives and also other benefits. Sure, developer experience is essential to attract talent, but to retain those people, think about the whole package and maybe just talk to your talented people about their concerns and wishes. Just like an agile model of constantly reviewing your work.”
What Changes Do You Expect the Industry to See This Year?
“The credo for new ways of working is to automate as much as possible to have more resources for the creative parts of the job. So I really hope that tools like OpenAI will help to create new kinds of tool sets to do all the boring stuff and leave engineers more time for the creative parts. So software engineering will get a bit more like creating the big picture, while implementing basic functionality is left to a machine. On the other hand, it can get dangerous as it’s not necessary anymore for an engineer to understand how it works, and the real code will become more of a black box with some magic in it. In many ways, this will be an interesting topic to watch and see where it will lead us.”
“API abuses will become the most common attack vector in coming years resulting in rampant data breaches, with some research firms predicting that unsafe APIs will be responsible for more than half of data theft. We must take more action related to the security of APIs and the identity of API calls using a system.”
“If 2022 was the year of figuring out this new world, 2023 needs to be the year in which we put in the necessary guardrails, processes, and management to ensure that developers are able to focus on building products and are able to easily consume resources within the platform without having to study a second role and keep up constantly.”
“I expect cloud costs to go down, not up. I expect the industry will continue to shift toward Kubernetes as cloud services teams seek to consolidate workloads onto one platform. Teams will need to continue to do more with less and will value solutions that can be automated from end to end.”
These experts are all members of the VMware Tanzu Vanguard, a select group of cloud users and practitioners who actively use Tanzu products and services and openly share their experiences and knowledge with the community. Learn more about the Tanzu Vanguard program.