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While the first half of the year saw a lot of development in the IT service management and application performance management markets, the latter half has honed in on Docker and Kubernetes news, as well as shifting DevOps roles and responsibilities. The development of AI and machine learning will continue well into 2018. With the nearly ceaseless barrage of change on all fronts, IT admins have a host of new tasks and responsibilities to manage in the coming year -- if their job role hasn't already changed, that is.
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These top 10 news stories from 2017, in no particular order, cover changes to Docker's container platform, AI takeover concerns and restructured cloud platforms.
1. Docker bows to the giant
Kubernetes news rolled in on a nearly daily basis in 2017, but the biggest story wasn't a change in Kubernetes, but rather at Docker. Docker hasn't given up on its internal container orchestration service, Docker swarm mode, but the early 2018 update to Enterprise Edition will include the addition of native Kubernetes orchestration and bring us several steps closer to a container industry standard. Swarm hasn't been thrown out the window -- yet -- but the integration will increase not only container portability, but also user concerns over the sudden lack of competition.
2. Merge into a new job role
The directive telling admins to learn how to code has grown past murmurs into full-blown conversations. Site reliability engineering sits in the space between development and operations -- where that metaphorical fence used to be. Operations admins willing to dig into the complexities of configuration management and infrastructure as code can make themselves indispensable -- and snag a pay raise while they're at it -- in the new year.
3. Azure passes on the VMs
Microsoft offers Azure Container Instances (ACI) to enable cloud users to forego the extra overhead of VMs and instead pay only for resources consumed by container images. Microsoft made some Kubernetes news by debuting integration with the open source container orchestrator in the service, but it is optional for ACI. Ops pros aren't convinced the cloud container offering is really groundbreaking, given its similarity to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud Container Service.
4. AWS joins in
Kubernetes users on Amazon Web Services saw Christmas early this year when AWS joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Container admins hope the integration with AWS and Kubernetes will smooth out operations wrinkles and result in new functionalities, such as Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, and better support. With AWS in the CNCF, all major cloud vendors now support Kubernetes, which makes containers more feasible for IT organizations across the board.
5. Monitoring tools with insight
New Relic, BMC and Splunk have all incorporated AI and machine learning into their IT monitoring tools to enable organizations to discover potential problems in IT deployments before they become reality. But AIOps tools aren't just on the monitoring front; Cisco, for example, is working on an infrastructure management automation addition to AppDynamics, which will use machine learning algorithms to analyze infrastructure configuration.
6. The empty desk problem
There are a lot of reasons IT operations struggles to keep its departments adequately staffed, but the evolutionary speed of technology and team structure best practices have potential admins miles behind before they even start. Unable to find workers with in-demand skills, organizations are creating training programs to transition existing staff with valuable knowledge and experience into DevOps roles.
7. Automation tools fill the gap
When there aren't enough skilled workers, existing employees get buried under mountains of repetitive, mind-numbing work that causes burnout faster than a matchstick. Enter DevOps automation tools, which don't replace staff, but rather take those repetitive, keep-the-lights-on tasks out of the admins' hands, as well as standardize the company's workflows into comprehensible units. LogicMonitor, for example, analyzes data and presents it in human-readable language, which improves IT team communication.
8. Shoot for simple pipelines
In acquiring Seattle-based container startup Distelli, Puppet aims to grow beyond configuration management in traditional infrastructure into container management. This reach gives Puppet an end-to-end pipeline tool set to compete with other DevOps pipeline vendors, even if Distelli wasn't a well-known player.
9. AI vs. humanity: Start the fight
The continuous development and implementation of AI in IT -- from monitoring to automated infrastructure scaling and self-healing -- have many IT operations admins concerned they'll ultimately be automated out of a job. The fear isn't totally baseless, with some companies offering products that manage massive infrastructures with only a few human operators. But AI isn't infallible, and even AI's biggest proponents acknowledge that it won't reach autonomy for around a decade.
10. Unrandomize IT automation efforts
IT organizations have been automating bits and pieces of their workflows over the past several years, but with the DevOps methodology taking over, the idea of a cohesive pipeline just keeps getting more attractive -- and necessary.