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Waves of Technology Change 2: Grab Your Surfboard, Life Jacket, or a Cloud?

February 28, 2016

In just a single year a major change has happened in the in the multiple waves of technology change that have been washing over the computer and software industries for the last 7 years or so — The Cloud Wave is growing in size at a rate much faster than any of the other waves of change I described a year ago in my blog article “Waves of Technology Change: Grab Your Surfboard or Life Jacket?

Job Trend Data

Last year I identified the following 4 waves of change from the information in Indeed’s Leading Tech Job Trends, based on the top 10 “fast growing tech key words found in online job postings” (quote is from Indeed Job Trends page):

  • New Web Wave – HTML5 and jQuery
  • Mobile Wave
  • Big Data Wave
  • Cloud Wave

The above waves were identified from data shown by Indeed on 2/9/2015. Please see my 2015 blog article (same as that above) for the data this categorization was based on.

During the past year Indeed has modified its Job Trends page. Now (February 2016) it displays only the top 5 tech job trends, rather than the top 10 as in 2015. Below is a comparison of the top 10 Leading Tech Job Trends of 2015 versus the top 5 of 2016, both listed in rank order of how fast the key word is growing in online job postings.

         2015                                                               2016

  • HTML5                                                          Data Scientist
  • Mongo DB                                                    Devops
  • iOS                                                                Puppet
  • Android                                                        PaaS
  • Mobile app                                                  Hadoop
  • Puppet
  • Hadoop
  • jQuery
  • PaaS
  • Social Media

In the above 2016 data we have the following classification, mapping job key words to waves of technology change:

  • Big Data Wave – Data Scientist (new in 2016) and Hadoop.
  • Cloud Wave – Devops (new in 2016), Puppet, and PaaS.

Conclusion — The major change from 2015 is that the Cloud and Big Data waves have taken over the top 5 fastest growing jobs, completely displacing the Mobile and the New Web waves!   And, since Big Data is heavily Cloud based these days, you can also say that the overall Cloud wave is the fastest growing wave of technology change washing over us right now.

Survey Research Data

The RightScale2016 State of the Cloud Report” adds deeper insight to this conclusion. It is a survey of 1,060 technology professionals (executives, managers, and practitioners) from a large cross section of organizations concerning their adoption of cloud technology.   I encourage you to examine the details in the report itself. Below are some key findings from this report:

  • The use of “Any Cloud” increased from 93% to 95%. Note that all the data includes experimental projects as well as production systems. Wow, almost all respondents are using the cloud somehow!
  • In the last year respondent’s use of “Hybrid Clouds” increased from 58% to 71%.
  • Respondents typically use more than one cloud provider, both public and private.
  • “Lack of resources/expertise” has replaced security as the top “cloud challenge” since 2015. Concern about security is now the number two “cloud challenge”.
  • Percent of respondents running apps in the cloud in 2015 versus 2016 are shown below by cloud provider:

                                        2015                     2016      Year-to-year Change

  • AWS                           57%                      57%                       0%
  • Azure IaaS                 12%                      17%                      +5%
  • Azure PaaS                 9%                       13%                      +4%
  • VMWare, Google, IBM, etc. were all between 4% and 8% in each year.

The above clearly shows that Microsoft’s Azure (with 4% to 5% growth) is taking market share from AWS (with 0% growth). By the way, grabbing market share from competitors is one key characteristic of a market leader.

What to Do? Grab a Cloud and Get Up to Speed

If you are a software development professional (whether executive, manager, architect, or developer) it should be clear that there is a high probability you will be called upon to participate in cloud based projects in the next few years.

My own cloud learning journey has thus far resulted in me learning how to architect and develop industrial strength cloud services and hybrid systems (using both cloud and on-premises systems) using the Azure Service Bus, Azure Storage, and Azure Cloud Services. After a number of months of full and part time study and development, I became proficient enough to successfully use these skills in my job in July 2015.  It has required a substantial amount of time and effort to learn the basic skills, develop the vital “cloud mindset”, and integrate these together.

Developing cloud based software requires a very different mindset than developing software for on-premises systems. A “cloud mindset” is required – One has to specifically design for failure and eventual consistency, plus other incongruities as well. This has much farther reaching implications than you might first imagine. Some of the things one routinely practices in on-premises system development are anti-patterns and anti-practices the cloud! So not only do you have to learn new things to do high quality cloud software development, you also have to unlearn things you already know that do not work well in the cloud.

Below are a few information sources I’ve found most valuable on my cloud learning journey. They will help you on your learning journey should you choose Azure.

  • Microsoft Azure — The Big Picture”, by Tony Meleg, MSDN Magazine, October 2015. This article provides an excellent overview of what Azure has to offer from a software developer’s point of view.
  • Exam Ref 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions, March 2015, by Zoiner Tejada, Michele Leroux Bustamante, and Ike Ellis. At first I found the breadth of information required to develop software on Azure overwhelming. This book solved that problem, bringing it all together in one place so you do not have to spend hours sifting through online documentation and tutorials (save the excellent tutorials for after you’ve read the book). This book provides you with all the basic details needed to start developing software for Azure. It has a wide breadth that covers all the key features of Azure you’ll have to deal with. Plus it goes into a reasonable depth with code examples, and has good references to more in depth sources. It helps you learn to use Power Shell. And you don’t have to study for the certification exam and take if it you don’t want to! You can use it solely as a source book and learning guide.
  • Cloud Design Patterns: Prescriptive Architecture Guidance for Cloud Applications by Homer, Sharp, Brader, et al.  Copyright 2014, Microsoft Patterns and Practices.   This is available in paperback (for a fee), or as a PDF (free download), or as a set of web pages.  It contains 24 patterns, plus 10 guidance topics.  There are also code snippets and samples provided as separate downloads.  This book has been extremely helpful in showing me the bigger picture and the “cloud mindset” that one must absolutely learn to work with the cloud – like considering eventual consistency, designing for failure, scaling, replication, partitioning, etc. And it provides explicit guidance on how to effectively deal with these areas as well.
  • Since about 2012 MSDN Magazine has published quite a number of well written articles on specific Azure software development technologies, most including code examples. Google “Azure MSDN Magazine” for a list of these articles. Of special interest are the articles published between 2014 and 2016, during the release of an astounding number of innovative and powerful new Azure capabilities that are also very well integrated with Microsoft’s software development tools like Visual Studio.   Integration of Visual Studio with Azure capabilities measurably reduces development time and costs.  These capabilities and tools, along with competitive pricing, are making Microsoft’s Azure cloud a clear market leader.

Good luck on your cloud learning journey.

George Stevens

Creative Commons License

dotnetsilverlightprism blog by George Stevens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at dotnetsilverlightprism.wordpress.com.

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