Authored by Dori Exterman, CTO, Incredibuild

If we needed evidence that the Metaverse is already alive and kicking, we don’t need to look farther than a recent wedding that took place in it. Incredibly, people are actually beginning to migrate part of their formerly-physical lives to the virtual world.

Not to be left behind, companies are hastily repositioning themselves to cash in. Metaverse real estate is in-demand. In China, tech giants are already acquiring metaverse-related trademarks by the hundreds. ETFs that track Metaverse stocks are trading robustly on capital markets. And tech experts are anticipating a rash of Metaverse development jobs.

But there’s something missing in the conversation about the first leg of the Metaverse race – the sprint to one billion users – which may well define the frontrunners for future Metaverse dominance. That something is the vehicle running the race, rather than the drivers. I’m referring to software development methodologies - specifically, DevOps.

DevOps is a paradigm that defines how companies develop and release software products – including those products that will comprise the backbone of the Metaverse. Here’s why DevOps will be a crucial advantage to those companies that adopt it in their race to Metaverse gold.

DevOps: Leveling the Playing Field

From hardware players to content creation platforms – everyone has their eyes on the Metaverse. Some are gaming companies, like Epic (Fortnite) and Microsoft (Minecraft), that have Metaverse-like games already and are looking to reach their player base up to the magic one billion milestone. Some are content creation platforms (think Roblox and Overwolf) looking to grow the sophistication of the games and apps their users create. Others are infrastructure and end-device producers like Microsoft and Meta, trying to make their AR/VR and interactivity solutions more attractive. And we can’t forget the hardware players like Intel, Qualcomm and NVIDIA, scrambling for chip-level Metaverse dominance. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon says his company is taking actions that will lead to dominating the market for chips used for the Metaverse.

There are a lot of diverse players in the Metaverse race – and DevOps is the common denominator connecting them. The sheer scale of the Metaverse - a scale never before addressed by any of the players above – demands a wholehearted adoption of DevOps principles.

The potential size and technical complexity of the Metaverse is hard to grasp. As Nvidia’s founder and CEO put it, “the economy of the virtual world will be much, much bigger than the economy of the physical world.” Similarly, Intel has posited that the Metaverse will require a 1,000-times increase in computational efficiency from what we have today.

In today’s terms, consider the major cloud providers – AWS, Azure and Google. If any of these providers were to have a massive global outage, digital life as we know it could literally halt – governments, business, and even some critical infrastructure could be offline. This is how extensive and important today’s digital infrastructure has become. And the Metaverse would be somewhere on the order of thousands of times more complex and critical.

Four Reasons the Metaverse Needs DevOps

To build and maintain this massive machine, the adoption of the principles of DevOps will offer Metaverse players the following:

1. Smoother continuous delivery

One of the core ideas in DevOps is running the automated tools that not only optimize testing for speed and quality, but also decide what not to test – since unnecessary testing slows build cycles. The sheer scale of Metaverse development projects will necessitate the complete elimination of the human factor in quality assurance. To keep up with the pace and complexity of Metaverse development and ensure continuous delivery, effective automated testing (a DevOps speciality) is critical.

2. Better use of computing power

To better exploit existing computing power, DevOps teams are already used to streamlining performance engineering processes, reducing iteration times, increasing throughput, and lowering latency. Essentially, one of DevOps core missions is to close the Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD) performance gap – both on-prem and in the cloud. DevOps makes this happen with advanced tools and processes needed in Metaverse-scale development.

3. Speedy time to market

One of the keys to supporting the huge scale of Metaverse infrastructure and content will be continuously introducing new features, capabilities, and content. The DevOps paradigm was designed to streamline collaboration between dev teams and IT – with the goal of reducing development time, improving the management of changes and upgrades, and speeding time to market. DevOps also facilitates enhanced product quality and faster bug fixes – one of the by-products of continuous delivery - by replicating and fixing problems faster.

4. More cost-effective cloud usage

R&D groups in Metaverse companies are pouring billions into the cloud – consuming millions of cloud-core hours per month. And even though the Metaverse is a big ticket item and cost shouldn’t be an issue…cost will always be an issue. DevOps is used to facilitate cost-effective distributed collaboration and provisioning, while keeping cloud overhead in check. In Metaverse terms, this will enable environments on-demand, and a level of dynamic scalability that can accommodate both development and production.

The Next Stage

The Metaverse is here, and its ultimate reality may not be far from Neal Stephenson’s original concept in his novel Snow Crash or the novel Ready Player One. But getting from today’s Metaverse to tomorrow’s demands a re-examination of development approaches. DevOps is already facilitating the pinnacle of today’s development efforts at companies like Netflix and Facebook, with their thousands of daily releases. And that’s perhaps the best reason to think that DevOps will be more than capable of facilitating tomorrow’s Metaverse too.

Dori Exterman credit: Haim Bargig