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Are Your Development Skills Keeping Pace with Oracle’s 2018 Software Predictions?

Guest Author

Today's guest post comes from Kate Farrow, Senior Marketing Manager at Oracle.

In January this year, Oracle’s VP of Product Management and Strategy for Oracle Cloud Platform made 10 software predictions for 2018. The forecasts provided insight to developers –into ways to advance your skills and careers, as you come under increasing pressure to create applications faster and more efficiently without compromising security or performance.

Now halfway through the year, let’s review those 10 predictions against recent data, and assess what lies ahead for developers like you, wishing to be at the forefront of emerging technology and business demands.

1. B2B transactions leveraging blockchain to go into production; developers to implement many blockchain use cases across financial services and manufacturing supply chains in 2018.

The most prominent use of blockchain is still in cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin has lost ground since the beginning of 2018, although it is still more than three times its value at this time last year – while the benefits of blockchain technology are being capitalized upon across the financial services industry. Multiple conferences are taking place across the globe to share and examine the latest finance use cases, in order to advance full-scale production blockchain projects which are indeed transforming the finance industry’s landscape. So too with manufacturing supply chains, where blockchain’s potential to become the universal supply chain operating system is gaining traction.

Blockchain has also been trialed in other sectors such as travel – SITA, Amadeus, and Lufthansa being notable examples. However, as with any new technology, the knowledge gap is the main impediment between the possible and the potential.

2. Chatbots to routinely have real conversations with customers and employees.

Chatbots are becoming increasingly prevalent, with the market now forecast to grow at a CAGR of 27% through 2025. And while their competence has developed greatly since their scripted-response beginnings, they still suffer from an image problem, with most customers preferring to interact with a live person. However, executives are continuing to invest in chatbot potential to deliver more personalized interactions for both customers and employees, and are already leveraging chatbots from the very beginning of the employee journey – to interview and interact with job applicants.

3. The button disappears: AI to become the app interface. AI becomes the UI, meaning that the synchronous, request-response model of using apps and services gradually disappears. Instead, intelligent apps will initiate interactions, knowing what to do, when, why, where, and how.

User experience communities concur, assessing that – as artificial intelligence reduces the need for typing and clicking – the user interface will eventually vanish, and we’ll have computing capabilities that fit organically and seamlessly into the contexts of our lives. At this stage in the evolution, Oracle’s previous recommendation still holds true: developers need to understand which data are really important to their business application, and which business decisions would most benefit from this kind of proactive AI – and then start experimenting.

4. Machine learning takes on practical, domain-specific uses. With machine learning (ML), context is critical, meaning that ML must be tuned and trained in a domain-specific environment to be effective. Developers would therefore need to become more knowledgeable about domain-specific use cases to understand what data to gather, what kinds of ML algorithms to apply, and what questions to ask.

This is becoming increasingly true. ML is already used across dozens of incredibly diverse fields, and the list is expanding, with every indication that ML implementations are set to double in 2018 compared to 2017.

5. DevOps moves toward NoOps. With business leaders putting pressure on developers to deliver new innovations faster; the DevOps model must free up more time for developers, who are spending 60% of their time on the ops side of the equation. In 2018, developers would insist on cloud services to help the pendulum swing back to the dev side.

The pendulum certainly seems to be swinging: according to a recent report by Gartner, the cloud application infrastructure services (PaaS) market is set to increase worldwide by 26% in 2018 to USD 15 billion, reaching more than USD 27 billion in 2021.

6. Open source as a service (OpenSaaS) accelerates open source innovation. Implementing and maintaining open source innovation (e.g. Kafka, Kubernetes, Cassandra) is often too complex. Developers would increasingly look for cloud services to deliver high-speed innovation from open source and also to take care of the operational and management aspects of these technologies.

Today, open source is rapidly becoming the norm for enterprise software, with Gartner predicting that 70% of new apps in 2018 will be run on open-source stack. And there are growing numbers of OpenSaaS providers poised to deliver on the market need to combine fast, trouble-free innovation with minimized costs. This demand also extends to the public sector - according to Andrew Hoppin, former CIO for the New York Senate, OpenSaaS is “the future of government innovation.”

7. Serverless architectures go big in production. For developers, stringing serverless functions together to execute complex transactions creates new challenges. Cloud services and open source tools would flourish by helping developers to easily manage the programming, composition, debugging, and lifecycle management of serverless functions, and to deploy and test them on any environment. The key would be choosing a serverless platform that provides maximum portability.

There have been major new steps in the serverless landscape, such as the Fn Project. While serverless services, and our understanding of how to use them, have certainly progressed from their infancy stage, there are some suggestions that they are now in their teenage years – with the most exciting advances just around the corner.

8. The only question about containers becomes “Why not?” Containers would become the default for dev/test work and commonplace for production applications.

A recent survey suggests this trend is continuing, with a substantial increase in container expertise among IT services providers – half of whom said that container adoption is being driven by end customers. But acquiring the right level of skills is still an issue, with 74% identifying skills gaps as an inhibitor.

Nevertheless, the application container market is exploding, according to technology market research firm 451 Research, which estimates that “2018 container spending will be USD 1.6 billion with a 31% compound annual growth rate through 2022.”

9. Software and systems to become self-healing, self-tuning, and self-managing. Cloud-based systems management services will aggregate large amounts of data (across logs, performance metrics, user experience, and configuration, etc.), apply lots of compute capacity, and leverage machine learning in order to ease systems monitoring, automatically alert developers of anomalies, and pinpoint the cause of problems for a specific transaction. Developers would need to think about how to leverage this automation when writing their applications.

Interest and expertise in this area continue to boom, as was recently evidenced in Sweden at the 13th International Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems, and the 40th International Conference on Software Engineering.

10. Highly automated security and compliance efforts to become a new ally of developers. The advent of comprehensive security and compliance regimes based on machine learning, and delivered as SaaS, will align with the fast pace of development. With GDPR and similar mandates driving continuous compliance assessments, such automated protections will be required in some cases.

GDPR, which became enforceable on 25th May this year, caused multiple headaches for developers, data protection officers, and compliance professionals across all industries – and not least in the IT security sector. Developers must therefore continue to leverage automated security technologies to ease such burdens.

In conclusion then, we have witnessed many exciting advances in software development since the start of this year. You don’t have to be an oracle to predict them all, but when Oracle implementers keep their Oracle development skills updated in the latest software trends, you will always be ready for the development challenges of tomorrow.

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