4 enterprise developer trends that will shape 2021


Image Credits: mikroman6 (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Ethan Batraski


Ethan Batraski is a partner at Venrock and focuses on data infrastructure, open source and developer tools.

More posts from Ethan Batraski

Technology has dramatically changed over the last decade, and so has how we build and deliver enterprise software.

Ten years ago, “modern computing” was to rely on teams of network admins managing data centers, running one application per server, deploying monolithic services, through waterfall, manual releases managed by QA and release managers.

Today, we have multi and hybrid clouds, serverless services, in continuous integration, running infrastructure-as-code.

SaaS has grown from a nascent 2% of the $450B enterprise software market in 2009, to 23% in 2020 and crossed $100B in revenue. PaaS and IaaS revenue represent another $50B in revenue, expecting to double to $100B by 2022.

With 77% of the enterprise software market — over $350B in annual revenue — still on legacy and on-premise systems, modern SaaS, PaaS and IaaS eating at the legacy market alone can grow the market 3x-4x over the next decade.

As the shift to cloud accelerates across the platform and infrastructure layers, here are four trends starting to emerge that will change how we develop and deliver enterprise software for the next decade.

1. The move to “everything as code”

Companies are building more dynamic, multiplatform, complex infrastructures than ever. We see the “-aaS” of the application, data, runtime and virtualization layers. Modern architectures are forcing extensibility to work with any number of mixed and matched services.

Traditionally we have relied on automation and configuration tools such as scripts and cron jobs to manage and orchestrate workflows between different systems and services. e.g., run a data pipeline or provision a new server. These tools have been based on a series of daisy-chained rules that lack real versioning, testing or self-healing, and require constant DevOps intervention to keep running.

With limited engineering budgets and resource constraints, CTOs and VPs of Engineering are now looking for ways to free up their teams. Moving from manual, time-consuming, repetitive work to programmatic workflows, where infrastructures are written as code and owned by developers.

Companies like HashiCorp, BridgeCrew and exciting new open-source projects are introducing new ways of building, managing and operating every layer of the developer stack using the same version-controlled, immutable, maintainable, programmatic patterns we have grown so accustomed to in software development.

2. Death of the DevOps engineer

DevOps has been a transformational approach to the modern developer stack. Teams can develop, deploy and rapidly iterate without the traditional friction of release managers, waterfall builds, DBAs, siloed departments and more. It has led to innovations powering faster, more scalable software delivery.

The ethos behind DevOps was always to bring developers and operations together. Any changes to infrastructure were to be developed and released as code and made available for use by any developer. If done correctly, operating the infrastructure and releasing software could be treated the same as any other codebase.

DevOps was always intended to be an approach, not a role. Unfortunately, we went awry somewhere. Today we have teams of DevOps engineers as large as the application or data teams. The bifurcation into a role led to a number of unfortunate side effects. DevOps engineers have become gatekeepers of the infrastructure. Much of their role is taken up by just keeping infrastructure running. Setting up new clusters, environments or pipelines still require a DevOps engineer to deploy. Deploying new infrastructure means scaling up DevOps headcount. Whether it’s the pace of change in the modern developer stack, some level of role preservation or some combination of the two, the result is a widening division between developers and operations.

That is about to change. We need to go back to DevOps as a way of bringing the building and delivering of software together, not separate.

Similar to what we saw in the evolution of the QA role folding into the developer role as functional and unit tests became standard, DevOps will follow the same path. In a resource and budget-challenged engineering organization, every available headcount will be for developers pushing code and creating robust software. That doesn’t necessarily mean the positions will be eliminated, but the ethos and definitions of their roles will change.

The result will be to go back to having only developers. There are application developers who build and monitor new services, Infrastructure developers who deploy and monitor new infrastructure, data developers who create and monitor new data flows. All enabled by tools and services that allow developers to leverage infrastructure as code and manage “operations” as a feature. The future will bring “DevOps” back to its original ethos, and give birth to the infrastructure engineer focused on building infrastructure through code.

3. Introduction of the virtual private cloud as-a-Service

The long-standing challenges enterprises face with managed services (SaaS/PaaS/IaaS) run on public clouds are its multitenancy nature.

An enterprise’s data is increasingly one of its most strategic assets. The risks of data leakage, security breaches, regulatory or security concerns and costs have driven enterprises to introduce hybrid environments. Hybrid clouds are combinations of public clouds for specific services and storage, and private clouds — configurable pools of shared resources that are on-premise to the enterprise.

The virtual private cloud (VPC) option has emerged as an alternative to meeting the data security and performance challenges that face enterprises. VPCs are isolated environments within a public cloud instance, meaning a private cloud within a public cloud without the IT and operational overhead of bare metal and resource management. With VPCs, enterprises can take advantage of public cloud benefits of on-demand infrastructure and reduced operational overhead, while maintaining data, resources and network isolation.

But VPCs aren’t the end-all solution. VPCs often don’t have all the features or capabilities of the regular public cloud SaaS offering, given the isolated instance and base. Monitoring and uptime are specific to each instance — meaning if your VPC is down, it’s likely not the case for other customers, often leading to slower resolution times. The age-old “cattle, not pets” methodology for managing servers is to leverage dispensable systems that have immediate redundancy and failover. It only works for a system with resource flexibility, which a VPC by nature does not.

Welcome to the era of the VPC-as-a-Service. A fully managed environment and service, offering the performance, reliability and scale of a multitenant public cloud service, but with the data security, namespaces and isolation of a virtual or on-premise private cloud. These services will offer network isolation, role-based access management, bring-your-own SSO/SAML, and end-to-end encryption, but operate like cattle, not pets. Offerings such as MongoDB’s Atlas have become the future reference architecture for enterprise-friendly “-aaS” offerings — performant, reliable, scalable and ultra-secure.

4. The new age of open-source infrastructure unicorns

As technologies and architectures shift or grow stagnant, the open-source community is often the catalyst for new methods and approaches. The last 10 years have seen a remarkable focus and reinvention of the data, runtime, middleware, OS and virtualization layers. As a result, the open-source community is responsible for creating many billion-dollar companies, including: Confluent, Databricks, Mulesoft, Elastic, MongoDB, Cockroach Labs, Kong, Acquia, Hashicorp, Couchbase, Puppet Labs, WP Engine, Mapbox, Fastly, Datastax and Pivotal.

Today the cloud still only accounts for a fraction of the $450B enterprise software market. As the cloud continues to evolve, so do the reference architectures that sit on top of it. Five years ago, we couldn’t conceive of serverless services, within containers, across clouds, segmented into microservices, scaled on-demand.

As architectures shift, so do budgets. In the coming months and years, we will see a new wave of migrations off legacy, proprietary and on-premise systems that are becoming choke points or single points of failure.

These migrations will specifically focus on the infrastructure, network, storage and data flow layers — the systems that power our services that haven’t been touched in years, with IaaS and PaaS offerings. From legacy ETL systems, data services, gateways, network and storage management, CASB and WAF, to the reinvention of vertical services from the likes of Oracle, SAP, SAS and IBM. IaaS and PaaS will represent the fastest-growing segments of the cloud.

Enterprises will demand the freedom to choose to mix and match managed and hosted services. They will demand lower total costs of ownership that are cloud-native by design, can modularly fit into any environment and are written as code.

Open-source projects (and their commercial developers) such as Druid (Imply), Arrow (Dremio), Flink (Ververica) and others will emerge as the open-source leaders to power the infrastructure for the next generation of enterprise software.

2021 and beyond

Companies such as Hashicorp and MongoDB are just scratching the surface of these emerging trends. As the Fortune 5000 continues to accelerate spend to the cloud, so will the emergence of a new generation of companies that modernize the way software is delivered. We will finally say goodbye to the days of complex multi and hybrid cloud orchestration, segmented DevOps teams, manual remediation and constant operator intervention. We will say hello to programmatic infrastructures, expressed in end goals and desired states, built by developers for developers.

It’s time to shift focus from delivering software to delighting customers. Welcome to a new era of modern software delivery.

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo