Predictions for 2022 - Why and how developer experience will make a difference

Looking ahead to 2022, Donnie Berkholz, Vice President Product, Percona reflects on the future for developer experience, and why it will matter.


This is a contributed article by Donnie Berkholz, Vice President Product, Percona.

It’s coming up on nine years since Stephen O’Grady first published The New Kingmakers on how developers’ technology decisions shifted the enterprise software market. In that time, developers have chosen open source, they have opted for cloud, they have crowned Kubernetes as the lead for container orchestration, and they have shifted to serverless.

All of these approaches have gained in popularity because they make developers’ lives easier. They help them get things done. And they ensure that their applications work well and can scale in the future. However, the majority of enterprises will have services and applications that they can’t or won’t shift to the cloud, or that they see some value in running themselves. So the battle for developer attention goes on. What will happen in 2022?

Prediction #1 - Platform Engineering will take over from DevOps and SRE

Developers want to deploy their applications faster and more efficiently. First, this led to DevOps processes and more collaboration across the deployment process into production. After this, Google’s Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) approach grew in popularity, applying software-engineering principles to infrastructure management and using those lessons to improve availability and reliability.

The next evolution of this is platform engineering. Platform engineering is all about creating clean “contracts” between teams in the form of self-service interfaces, rather than the traditional approach of filing tickets or performing handoffs across teams. Using a public cloud exemplifies the platform engineering approach. However, an internal platform team would provide integration with existing solutions, contextual awareness of your overall environment, and enablement through documentation and training.

The underlying platform team defines how an organisation creates and runs its own applications and infrastructure based on workflows, automation, source control and self-service. The changes here put the focus on how teams of developers collaborate around what they have to build, as each team will rely on each other to provide underlying capabilities to their applications.

In 2022, more companies will start building platform-engineering teams so they can manage their applications, technology and - most importantly - how they collaborate around these areas more effectively over time.

Prediction #2 - Developer Experience will become a defined category

We have had customer experience as a focus point for many years. Build a better customer experience, make more sales and keep them happy over time, and you compete with your rivals. Alongside this, employee experience has become a focus point - after all, if you have happy staff that can do their job well, then they should create happy customers.

Developer experience will go through the same process. By this, I mean that enterprises will look at how cloud providers and technology companies build their tools to help developers work, and then look at how to apply those same lessons for their own developers.

The reason for this is that enterprises want their developers to be more productive and happy about how they work, but they also want to manage and control their own destinies around technology. They want to provide the same level of speed and efficiency around getting things set up, but across their IT stacks. For companies running private clouds, this is about getting parity with competitors that fully commit to public cloud.

Developer-experience investments will be about making that self-service approach to building applications work, and work quickly. The result should be that developers at those more traditional companies can get the same benefits that those at other companies using cloud-native approaches do. The hope is that these implementations help developers be more productive, and that they are happy to stay at those companies rather than move to other roles.

Prediction #3 - Developers will take on data and Kubernetes together

Software containers were first designed to manage application components, created when they are needed and destroyed when they are not needed. Developers chose Kubernetes to help them manage these environments automatically. However, this did not handle how those applications manage the data they create over time. Those environments had to be stateful rather than stateless, because data has to exist over time.

In 2021, the Data on Kubernetes community found that 90 percent of their members thought that Kubernetes is ready for stateful workloads, meaning typical databases or persistent storage. In 2022, running databases on Kubernetes will move from that early-adopter community to be more commonplace within microservice applications. From there, this approach will become a default approach for data as part of application deployments.

In 2022, developers will continue to choose the products that they want to use in their work. Companies with large budgets for developer evangelism will compete for attention with open-source communities looking to attract contributors, committers and users. How this develops will affect how individual projects fare as well as the success of open source as an approach over time.