|By Todd Anglin||
|August 9, 2010 09:00 AM EDT||
"Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over almost everything, except technology." - John Tudor
As software developers, our mission is to deliver positive, technology-based solutions - software that provides both the means and the method for working faster, performing better, achieving more. There is little doubt that the technologies we create provide users with the control and functionality needed to be more efficient and productive. However, what happens when the tools we use to produce these solutions get out of control?
Evolution in the technology ecosystem has accelerated to the speed of light - blink and you may miss something important. The software development landscape has mushroomed with near-exponential growth; new products and innovations are flooding the market on a daily basis. It begs the question: does this swift evolutionary pace represent a positive stage in the maturation of software development or are we moving too quickly for our own good? What does the future of software hold for us? It is an open question that can only be answered with time.
All of this warp-speed evolution and growth means that today's world of software development is bigger and far more complex than at any time. With the sheer volume of diverse technologies and products hitting the market, compounded by truncated beta-to-release delivery cycles, it is all too easy for developers to become overwhelmed and feel as if they're falling behind. In the Microsoft space alone, there are hundreds of emerging technologies regularly being released to market. However, this rapid evolution and explosive technology proliferation isn't limited to any one market segment. Rather, it's endemic to software development as a whole - and represents a mounting challenge that must be addressed if developers want to maintain a base of knowledge that is current and timely.
How can software developers keep apace of relevant new developments without becoming buried beneath an avalanche of information about superfluous tools and technologies that are only marginally related or beneficial to their own projects? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff and really zero in on those technologies that are truly important and valuable? While there's no simple answer to this riddle, one method that may prove useful is staying on PAR: Proactive, Abstraction, Refinement.
Going Proactive: The Waiting Game Is a Losing Game
In the early days of .NET development - the "good ol' days," so to speak - new tools and technologies were released at a relatively disciplined pace. During those first six to eight years, developers benefited from new releases and updates being brought to market at reasonable intervals. It was not only possible, but a logical, intelligent choice for software developers to take an extended amount of time to research, review, evaluate, and perform a hands-on trial of these technologies in order to accurately determine whether they were relevant to either project or individual goals. On rare occasions, this process would begin with technology betas but more often than not, teams could afford to wait for release candidates or near-final software before conducting their evaluations. In other words, the waiting game was one that paid off in the long run.
Fast-forward to today: the waiting game has become a losing game. Technology is now moving along at a much faster pace than it was a mere decade ago. The shifting software landscape touches a far broader spectrum of technologies - enterprise, Web, cloud, and mobile, for example - than ever before, resulting in an increasingly wider cross-platform, cross-technology software footprint. Yet though this swift acceleration of evolution and expansion might be unsettling to some, the pace is appropriate for the scenarios and world that we as developers, must serve.
The last two to three years has seen a rapid acceleration in the introduction of new technologies and updates - beta-to-release-candidate cycles are now compressed so that it often feels as if new technologies are being introduced every month. For the average .NET developer, this means the luxury of time has evaporated; sitting by the sidelines, just waiting for updates and new technologies to come along is a sure path to obsolescence.
Software developers who want to avoid the obsolescence trap must become more proactive. In practical terms, this means breaking free of the conventional "wait-and-see" mentality, and instead reaching out to embrace coming change: identifying which emerging technologies, irrespective of the buzz factor, best serve current and future project needs, actively seeking out the latest demos and information from experts and project teams, and engaging in the discussion before the final release hits the market. Success is based on one's ability to be nimble and adapt quickly to evolving conditions. Software developers willing to make the effort necessary to become more proactive will find themselves well equipped to not just survive but to thrive in the rapidly shifting technology ecosystem.
The Art of Abstraction
Being proactive rather than reactive is a critical element for success in the modern-day world of software development, yet, it also poses a formidable challenge; out of the multitudes of new technologies hitting the market, how do you decide which to pursue? How do you determine which ones will be viable and evergreen, and which will fall by the wayside? As it is virtually impossible to predict which technologies will establish themselves as indispensible, developers often find themselves under increasing pressure to adopt a "learn everything" strategy. However, becoming a "jack of all trades, master of none" can be just as detrimental to success as sitting by the sidelines and waiting for the dust to settle.
As developers are generally not blessed with a crystal ball and its predictive abilities, an alternate method for preparing for a successful future is needed. The art of abstraction - reducing and factoring out specific details and minutiae in order to focus on critical concepts - is just such a method. By adding a layer of abstraction between themselves and the shifting technology environment, developers can effectively select, gain a broad understanding of, and manage a wider variety of relevant technologies without feeling as if they're being forced to fully learn every new niche technology that comes along.
Software developers can achieve the level of abstraction that best suits their individual situation in any number of ways. For example:
- Identify someone who can act as a technology expert - such as project or team leader, or industry analyst - and provide a learned, level-headed, and objective view of a given technology. After identifying an expert, take the time needed to really get to know the person. Much like vetting a vital service provider like an accountant, attorney, or even an auto mechanic, it's critical to validate the veracity of any expert opinion.
- If finding and identifying an expert is impractical or impossible, find a vendor that is trustworthy, one who has demonstrated its worth in the past. It's less risky to bet on a company with proven, dependable technologies delivering added value than on a new, not yet proven technology.
- Leverage the power of abstraction tools, like Object Relational Mapping (ORM) suites. With their unique ability to act as an equalizer of sorts - allowing software developers to work effectively within multiple diverse environments without requiring specialized knowledge of each database system - ORMs are an efficient and effective means of capitalizing on emerging technologies without requiring learning from the bottom-up.
No matter how it is accomplished, applying the art of abstraction within the development environment enables developers to insulate themselves from the turbulence and volatility of the shifting software landscape.
Refined Vision: Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Like that old adage "you can't see the forest for the trees," when faced with a veritable torrent of new technologies, it can be extraordinarily difficult for software developers to clearly see the whole picture as it relates to their situation - which new innovations may have a material impact on existing or future projects, and which technologies are on the verge of obsolescence and the annals of computer history. Having this clearer view is essential to both individual developers and development teams as a whole, if they want to succeed. Achieving a more focused view requires a bit of filtering; however, it also makes it possible to see the forest despite the trees.
Refined vision doesn't necessarily mean putting on blinders or selecting just one or two technologies to follow. Despite the grandstanding of various technology pundits, there is no single absolute set of technologies that every software developer must learn in order to be successful. It is true, however, that there are definitely right and wrong tools and technologies that should be learned for specific scenarios; determining which technologies are the best fit is the first step in the refinement process.
Performing a thorough evaluation of the unique needs of a particular development environment enables individual software developers and development teams to identify current and near-future project needs. Armed with a better understanding of project needs in turn facilitates the filtering process - the location and pursuit of those relevant technologies that deliver the greatest added value, while ignoring the "new toy" buzz surrounding technologies that will have little or no bearing. Getting your feet wet and learning more about a new technology than just its name means spending a few evenings becoming familiar with it through in-depth research, hands-on interaction with demos, and engagement with experts in the space. By refining their vision, software developers can identify which new technologies should be added to their short-list, thereby keeping their skill set up-to-date and fresh.
The Future of Software Development
There is no end in sight to the deluge of new technologies being delivered to market, making it fundamentally impossible to accurately predict the future of software development. What can be predicted, however, is the continued mounting pressure on developers to readily accept and quickly adapt to accelerated technology evolution cycles. If there is any one concept or idea that software developers must absolutely comprehend, it is this: it really is okay not to know it all. In truth, software developers should be less concerned about knowing the ins and outs of every new niche technology and more with figuring out what is best for their own development practices and environment in order to remain nimble enough to adapt to quickly evolving conditions. With genuine understanding of this concept, developers will find that it is truly possible to keep their skills current while keeping their sanity intact.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than
Jul. 5, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,291
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Jul. 5, 2015 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,401
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 5, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,501
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is corr...
Jul. 5, 2015 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,427
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company helps mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to deploy new levels of reliable and cost-effective computing and high availability solutions, leveraging the cloud and the benefits of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS...
Jul. 5, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,621
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Jul. 5, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,586
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Jul. 5, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,982
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Jul. 5, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,356
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 5, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,411
The basic integration architecture, as defined by ESBs, hasn’t changed for more than a decade. Most cloud integration providers still rely on an ESB architecture and their proprietary connectors. As a result, enterprise integration projects suffer from constraints of availability and reliability of these connectors that are not re-usable across other integration vendors. However, the rapid adoption of APIs and almost ubiquitous availability of APIs amongst most SaaS and Cloud applications are rapidly redefining traditional integration approaches and their reliance on proprietary connectors. ...
Jul. 5, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,279
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Jul. 5, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,984
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 5, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,587
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Jul. 5, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,379
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context wi...
Jul. 5, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,604
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Jul. 5, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,503
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jul. 5, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,709
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Jul. 5, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,439
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 3, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,453
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
Jun. 29, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,884
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Jun. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,314