The Key Benefits of Building High-Performance Engineering Organizations
Create better software, get faster time to market and empower more productive developers
Create better software, get faster time to market and empower more productive developers
In the current shift towards cloud native environments, it is crucial to prioritize developer experience for business success.
Focusing on the developer experience is now a top priority for businesses:
58% of software engineering leaders report that developer experience is “very” or “extremely” critical to C-suite at their organizations and the need to improve developer experience is driving technology adoption.
In recent years, containerization, microservices and Kubernetes have been among the leading technologies on organizations' radar. Kubernetes has become the de facto orchestration platform for deploying and managing containerized applications.
5.6 million Developers using Kubernetes worldwide represent 31% of all backend developers.
By 2022, both corporate consultancies and tech outlets declared that Kubernetes had "crossed the chasm" into mainstream enterprise adoption.
According to the 2022 CNCF Annual Survey, not only is Kubernetes adoption increasing by leaps and bounds, it's more common in larger organizations and is truly global (Africa leads the world in Kubernetes use in production, followed by Europe and North America). Moreover, Kubernetes is "going under the hood", according to the report, and becoming less visible, enabling developers to do their work without having to know as much about underlying technologies.
Kubernetes and the promise of speed and flexibility
Kubernetes is a maturing technology, as evidenced by the upward adoption trend. But as the technology and the number of users grows, its expansion shines a light on another theme that is gaining traction: the importance of the developer experience. Cloud native technologies and Kubernetes gained popularity by promising to help developers deliver software and applications faster. Now organizations can test that promise by helping developers make the most of what cloud native can do for them.
Inevitably, though, it has not been quite as straightforward as that. Developers have in many cases, particularly before Kubernetes hit the mainstream, taken on the full responsibility for coding, shipping and running their services. While this works for a fraction of organizations, it isn't ideal for the 99% of developers who want to know enough to get their job done and do not necessarily want to be Kubernetes experts. For most developers, organizations would have to pave the path to a better developer experience to achieve what the organization sets out to achieve and what cloud native development promises to deliver.
But what really is developer experience? How can it be improved?
And by extension, for organizations, what does improving the developer experience mean and how will better DevEx benefit them?Learn How to Improve DevEx with Telepresence
The rise of cloud native architectures and the changing role of the developer
The constant demand for speed and getting to market with software faster led to the rise of cloud native architectures. For organizations, this meant more frequent software releases; for developers, this meant decentralized services to enable independent releases of individual microservices. In theory, with microservices and Kubernetes, developers would benefit from more efficient workflows because everything is decoupled, and no one is stuck waiting for a big release cycle sometime in the future. Everyone wins, right?
Managing multiple services, each with its own API, data storage, and communication protocols, can make it harder to debug, test, and maintain the system.
Maintaining communication, synchronization, and data consistency requires robust mechanisms to handle failures, ensure data integrity, and provide security across different services.
Integrating different services across different protocols, APIs, and data formats can make it harder to create a seamless experience for users and to maintain consistency across the system.
Developing and testing microservices add layers of complexity in that each service is developed and tested independently, which can increase the overall development time and effort required.
Increased operational overhead
Increasing the number of services increases operational overhead, including monitoring, logging, deployment, and configuration management.
Adopting New Technology Sometimes Comes with Hurdles
Likewise, Kubernetes itself presents some additional challenges for developers, including the complexity mentioned above, a steep learning curve (especially for those new to containerization and orchestration), difficulty in debugging and troubleshooting due to the distributed nature of the platform, resource management (optimizing resource use, including CPU, memory, and storage), and security. None of these are trivial!
Adopting new technology always comes with hurdles. While most organizations find their way through the challenges and find that, on balance, the flexibility, scalability and speed are worth the tradeoffs, the fact that some of these challenges end up landing on the developer's desk creates conditions for a significantly worse developer experience, which affects the bottom line.
What is developer experience?
Developer experience (devex or DX) is the overall experience software developers have while doing their work. Developer experience encompasses all aspects of a developer's interaction with the technology (whether it's a tool, platform, framework, or some combination of these) from the moment they start writing code until the code changes get shipped. In discussing developer experience, the focus is generally the ease of use, efficiency, reliability, and satisfaction of the experience.
The developer experience is about creating an environment that makes it easy for developers to do their job by providing them with the tools and resources they need to build, test, and deploy software quickly and efficiently. This includes everything from the onboarding process to the speed and reliability of the development process, the feedback loops and collaboration possibilities available to the developer, and the workflows they follow to achieve the greatest level of efficiency and productivity.
But taking into consideration the list of challenges microservices architectures pose, it's not necessarily easy to know how to improve developer experience
What makes a better developer experience?
The reality of the developer's daily life necessitates that they are given a paved path to rapid and safe development to achieve the productivity on which they are measured. They also need to be given the time to focus on coding and freed from making choices about processes and tools, which amounts to noise and distraction for most developers and does not serve an organization's software shipping goals.
Developers need relief from repetitive tasks that in the end deliver no business value. Now more than ever, with the pressure to do more with less, asking developers to own the full software life cycle and all of its underlying infrastructure makes for a suboptimal developer experience and does not deliver business productivity.
Key benefits of improving the developer experience
Improving developer experience comes down to developer enablement in all the forms that entails. Of course, trends come and go – for example, recent talk about developer platforms as the solution to the complexity developers face with Kubernetes. But developer enablement is a broader concept that has to do with the end-to-end experience of being a developer.
What makes a good developer experience, according to devs and dev teams?
In numerous interviews with cloud native leaders, including developers, DevOps engineers, platform architects and others, several common characteristics surfaced that typify a good developer experience, including:
Free up time
Enable focus to work on core innovations and features, including doing the research and an ability to get closer to customers that underpins good user experiences.
Let devs be devs
Do not make everyone be jacks-of-all-trades (which can slow things down and frustrate developers).
Offer good onboarding
Unblock devs and set them up for success; this includes, for example, good documentation and getting them contributing meaningfully from day one.
Place more focus on quality end deliverable by giving developer responsibility for what ingredients go into the code and discover issues early.
Share the why
Don't just tell developers how to do something – share why. Storytelling and making the why matter plays an often hidden but important role in undoing developer frustration (or avoiding it altogether).
Pave the path
For most devs, guardrails are helpful, and they don't want to think about selecting and using a bunch of different tools. Internal dev platforms might be one way to reduce cognitive load and decisionmaking burdens.
Preserve existing workflows and let developers work in ways in which they are productive and comfortable
Champion a developer who is a resource for other developers.
Add a human touch
Whatever you call it, developers have human needs and approaches. Be responsive and have real conversations, and bring empathy to the table.
Download The Complete Guide to Developer Experience (DX)
In the current shift towards cloud native environments, it is crucial to prioritize developer experience for business success. Focusing on the developer experience is now a top priority for businesses: 58% of software engineering leaders report that developer experience is “very” or “extremely” critical to C-suite at their organizations and the need to improve developer experience is driving technology adoption.
Download the complete guide to learn how your organization can create better software, get faster time to market and empower more productive developers.