|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 increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
May. 6, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,250
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
May. 6, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,477
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
May. 5, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,346
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
May. 5, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,504
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 5, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,048
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
May. 5, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,375
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
May. 5, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 787
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
May. 5, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 748
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
May. 5, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,072
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 5, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,491
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
May. 5, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 776
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
May. 5, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 608
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
May. 5, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,333
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
May. 5, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,365
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
May. 5, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,580
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
May. 5, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,292
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
May. 5, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,406
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
May. 5, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,331
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
May. 5, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,427
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
May. 3, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,660