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Taming Change

Meeting the challenge of an ever-changing software development landscape

By Bob Rhubart

July/August 2015

For more than two generations, IT has driven significant changes across the spectrum of things human beings do to earn a living. Adjusting to those changes is a fact of life for anyone who draws a paycheck, or plans to do so in the future.

Architects and developers enjoy no immunity from that process. Indeed, they face a unique challenge in staying ahead of each wave of inevitable change that crashes onto the software development landscape.

Every new technology requires a considerable amount of time. ”–Antonis Antoniou,
Oracle ACE Associate

In order to get a sense of how Oracle Technology Network architect community members meet that challenge, I started a discussion forum and asked people to describe how their work has changed over the past 12 months, how they have adjusted to that change, and how their work might change in the near future. This article draws on responses to those questions.

“There are always new technologies popping up in IT,” says Oracle ACE Director Frank Munz, a middleware and cloud computing specialist. Some vanish quietly. Others survive. “That’s IT,” Munz explains. “My trick is to explore technologies early and then decide for myself if they’re just more marketing, or worth evangelizing.”

For Munz, one noteworthy innovation is Docker, an open platform for building, shipping, and running distributed applications. While Docker drew modest attention in 2014, “today everybody is crazy about it,” says Munz. One of his Oracle OpenWorld 2014 presentations discussed the possibility of running Oracle WebLogic on Docker. In March 2015, Oracle officially certified Oracle WebLogic to run on Docker. “That is really cool,” says Munz. Docker will figure in his near future, as will microservices, DevOps, platform as a service (PaaS), and big data.

Big data has been the catalyst for change for Oracle ACE Michael Rainey, a business intelligence specialist and principal consultant with Rittman Mead Consulting. Rainey regularly works with and writes about Oracle Data Integrator and Oracle GoldenGate. “The push on the data integration side of things is around big data, as a source, target, and everything in between.”

Adjusting to that change has been challenging for Rainey. “There are so many big data technologies. It can be difficult to determine a clear place to start. With many companies still struggling with what would be considered standard data integration and reporting, much of my focus has still been on building out a traditional data warehouse using relational databases, flat files, and batch processing.” But some traditions have limited shelf lives.

“I expect the integration of big data sources with standard relational data to continue to grow,” Rainey says. “The key will be to understand the scope of the work and determine the best technologies to use, and how to architect the solution.”

For Oracle ACE Associate Antonis Antoniou, technical director at eProseed and a member of that company’s global CTO office, change over the past 12 months was driven by his opportunity to work with new Oracle Fusion Middleware products. “The most appealing were the new release of Oracle Business Process Management [Oracle BPM] with its Adaptive Case Management offering, the latest Oracle SOA Suite, and the new Oracle Mobile Application Framework.” Antoniou was also involved in beta-testing Oracle’s new Oracle Process Cloud Service and Oracle Integration Cloud Service.

But change is change, and the transition from old to new requires effort. “Every new technology requires a considerable amount of time to read about and actually try the new product and features in specific use cases,” says Antoniou. “Only then will you have a solid view of it.”

Over the next several months Antoniou will continue to sharpen his focus on the new Oracle BPM, Oracle SOA Suite, and Oracle Mobile Application Framework releases, as well as on Oracle’s new PaaS offerings.

The insights presented here represent a sampling of the experience of the architects and developers who participated in the ongoing discussion. How has your work changed? How is it continuing to change? How are you dealing with that change? Share your thoughts at bit.ly/1IjBwIX.

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