From Ripples to Waves

Here are some trends that made a difference in 2017.

By Bob Rhubart

January/February 2018

Software architects and developers live in a perpetual swirl of technological trends, each with at least some potential to evolve from ripple to wave. A great many of these trends simply evaporate. But for others, powerful currents converge, mysterious forces align, and what emerges is something that changes the software development landscape in a profound and lasting way.

As we enter a new year, it seems appropriate to look to community members to get a real-world sense of the trends and technologies that had the greatest impact on their work in the year just passed. Among those who responded to my inquiries, most agree that 2017 was the year of APIs and microservices, and many offered ideas about trends for 2018.

For Oracle ACE Phil Wilkins, a Capgemini senior consultant, a highlight of 2017 was the arrival and what he describes as the “rapid maturing” of Oracle’s API platform. “We have seen a lot of uptake of the platform and work to go with it,” he says.

Wilkins believes that the solutions within Oracle’s API platform “offer the greatest freedom and are making the greatest impression,” he explains. “Cloud-born businesses are typically more technology-centric. However, those not cloud-born often need an evolutionary path. And that’s what makes microservices important.”

“Microservices lend themselves to the need for smaller, discrete pieces that are more movable,” Wilkins explains. “We’re seeing increasing involvement in applying this kind of paradigm.”

For Oracle ACE Sven Bernhardt, the focus in 2017 was on “everything around APIs and modern, hybrid architectures, based on new architectural concepts like microservices.” A solution architect with Opitz Consulting, Bernhardt explains how the combination of microservices, container technologies, and cloud-based scalable runtime environments makes it possible to define “flexible, future-proven architectures.”

Microservices and APIs were among several trends that landed heavily on Oracle ACE Rolando Carrasco’s radar in 2017, a list that also includes DevOps and chatbots. “For microservices, it just happened that during 2017 a lot of customers wanted to invest around it,” Carrasco says. Co-owner and SOA principal architect at S&P Solutions, Carrasco says that for some customers the interest in microservices was more about following the trend than about a legitimate technical need. Either way, he was happy that microservices were in the mix. “It was fun to work with them,” because that work meshed well with his SOA expertise.

As for APIs, “API management was and will continue to be a favorite topic to work with, both for research and implementation,” Carrasco says. He presented on API management at Oracle OpenWorld 2017 and other events, and plans to do so in the future.

Chatbots are coming of age. We’re starting to see past the novelty use cases into enterprise applications.” –Phil Wilkins, Oracle ACE

And speaking of the future, while Wilkins, Bernhardt, and Carrasco agree on the impact of APIs and microservices in 2017, there isn’t quite that same level of consensus about 2018.

All three agree that chatbots will be a major factor this year. “Chatbots are coming of age,” explains Wilkins. “We’re starting to see past the novelty use cases into enterprise applications.” Similarly, Bernhardt believes that advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will drive the adoption of chatbots.

All three also agree that in 2018 serverless architectures will be a trend to watch.

Finally, both Bernhardt and Carrasco expect blockchain to gain momentum in 2018. “Blockchain has the potential to become a game changer in the area of B2B transactions,” according to Bernhardt.

Of course, the opinions of these three professionals, however experienced, carry only so much weight. But Wilkins, Bernhardt, and Carrasco are in the trenches on a daily basis and are respected, active members of the community, so it is reasonable to assume that they are not alone in their opinions.

But what about you? What trends had the greatest impact on your work in 2017? And what trends will drive real change in 2018? Join the conversation.

Next Steps

LISTEN to “Are Microservices and APIs Becoming SOA 2.0?”

LISTEN to “Microservices: Getting Real.”

WATCH Interview: Microservices and API Management.

Photography by Michael McElroy/The Verbatim Agency, Rainer Stropek/flickr