Predictions for the Coming Year

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Predictions for the Coming Year
by Bob Aiello

This is an exciting time to be part of the technology industry. The demand for complex systems is only surpassed by user expectations that new features, as well as bugfixes, can be delivered rapidly – even during normal business hours. The internet of things (IoT) has expanded the definition of connectivity to everything from your car to your washing machine. Mobile devices can help monitor your smart house, optimize your electricity and heating bills while ensuring mobile connectivity throughout your international travel. Cloud-based resources deliver remarkable scalability at low cost, enabling the analysis of big data which continuously astounds with new applications of its remarkable business intelligence capabilities. Savvy architects ensure not only an API-first, but often an API-only architecture. While there are limitless possibilities, there are also are limitless risks.

Cybersecurity has emerged as a core capability to address the challenges of cybercrime (and, for state entities, the related challenges of cyberwarfare and even cyberterrorism). The remarkable number of high-profile security incidents have damaged reputations for many firms and led many consumers to view cyber-responsibility as a must-have. In the coming year, consumers will expect companies to up their game with regard to cyber capabilities ensuring systems security and reliability. Technology professionals will need to embrace a comprehensive approach to continuous security that reaches from designing systems to be secure, through secure code analysis, to thorough penetration testing in order to confirm that applications have been not just designed, but also built, packaged and deployed to be secure.

DevOps is growing beyond deployment engineering to encompass a broader set of competencies which enable rapid delivery of business capabilities. DevOps itself will mature from the domain of internet startups to proficiencies which can align with the demands of even the most highly regulated financial services firms. DevOps is no longer just about development and operations. DevOps enables better communication and collaboration between organizational units throughout the enterprise. This journey to maturity must include an industry standard to guide the use of DevOps in firms which must adhere to audit and regulatory requirements and seasoned IT professionals are working on that effort right now. Feel free to contact me for more information on the IEEE P2675 DevOps Working Group.

Agile development has established itself as the preferred approach to software engineering. But many organizations struggle to achieve agility due to inevitable constraints – from idiosyncratic corporate culture to the complex demands of technology development efforts. As the old adage goes “nine women cannot make a baby in one month” and the realities of systems constraints often make iterative development challenging, if not near impossible. In 2017, firms will likely need to focus more on software process improvement than trying to meet the demands inherent in agile development. That’s right; I am saying to focus more on process improvement and less on proving that you are agile! Even projects which must use waterfall methodology can benefit greatly from the wisdom of the Agile Manifesto and agile principles. Our new book on Agile ALM & DevOps discusses this approach in detail. As it always has, process maturity will need to include traceability, while still achieving fully agile application lifecycle management (ALM). Organizations in highly regulated industries, including financial services, will need to implement agile ALM while still maintaining fully traceable processes.

DevOps and Agile ALM will accelerate your process developer velocity; however, your performance will be significantly impacted unless you have implemented continuous testing, including API testing and the use of service virtualization. Unit and functional testing are essential, but not sufficient, to keep up with the demands of Agile and DevOps. Agile depends upon DevOps and DevOps relies upon Continuous Testing and Continuous Security.

Tools are essential for successful software development and solid tools integration is also crucial. Vendors will continue to evolve in terms of building tools that can be integrated across the ecosystem. Vendors themselves will continue to play a key leadership role in DevOps innovation with every vendor stretching to ensure that their solutions help enable DevOps.

Bob Aiello (bob.aiello@ieee.org)