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Dev Trends for 2011

The dog days of August are a good time to take stock of some of the major themes and trends likely to shape the development space toward the end of 2010 and into 2011.

There are some months of the year when the IT industry and market barely pauses for breath; times when it seems to be a never ending cycle of conferences, product launches, new technology announcements and acquisitions. And there are times when, metaphorically, we get a chance to stop and smell the flowers. Times like now, when we can take stock of what has been and what we can expect in the run to the end of the year.

As we entered 2010 there was general relief that many of the economic troubles of 2009 had been left behind. While austerity continues to be the flavor of the day, the overall outlook for 2010 was upbeat. As businesses turn to software to underpin their growth, innovations and operational efficiency, IT departments have found themselves in a reasonably good position. Software development, delivery and lifecycle management has, for the most part, benefited from increased focus and interest from business heads.

Now more than ever the spotlight is on software and application delivery and lifecycle management as a managed business process. Software development teams across the broad spectrum of industries and markets are telling me that while the message of "Doing more with less" continues, cost savings are no longer the only top notes.

"Help me grow the business" is the mantra that is increasingly being heard, and suggesting a more collective partnership between businesses and their IT organizations. So, what themes can we expect to dominate for the remainder of the year as we head into 2011?

Past as Predictor
At the start of 2010, I wrote about some key themes that would dominate: Cloud, Agile, Security, Analytics, improved delivery through better collaboration and insight and a greater focus on enriching the experience and engagement of software users. Thus far, these themes have held sway as vendors and end-users alike look to take advantage of new delivery models, the explosion of technology and digital content, more pervasive network connectivity and the continued proliferation of smart handheld devices.

These themes will continue to dominate, but I also see a few specific areas coming in for increased focus and attention.

With its on-demand, pay for what you use and devolution of resources model, Cloud has galvanized businesses and vendors across the industry and market landscape. All the leading players have in 2010 enabled sections of their portfolio as cloud service offerings with plans in the pipeline to widen their capability for Cloud.

There are still many questions to be asked and answered regarding the Cloud model and the technology and business model is still evolving. However, for software development teams the underlying challenges of virtualization -- a key technology underpinning Cloud -- will come into sharp focus. There is virtualization outside of Cloud and its increasing benefits and risks will prompt the supply and demand communities to come to grips with it.

Web Services and service-oriented architecture (SOA) have been under the radar with the attention lavished on Cloud. SOA is certainly not dead and as we head into to 2011 we will see just how alive it is, as more organizations begin to expose their investments in Web services and SOA transformations. The opening of access to data and systems around the organization and the possibilities for new application innovation will increase the pressure on design and end user experience and engagement. Expect the capability for Rich Client Applications to be a core feature requirement. More interestingly "experience" design and focus is likely to gain momentum outside the usual incumbents of Microsoft, Adobe, Google and Apple.

We are still some way from software development and delivery as a valued business process. The value of application lifecycle management continues to increase in awareness. However, the strategic nature and the time and commitment investments required means that there are as many detractors as proponents. That said, the remainder of the year is likely to see greater focus on pragmatic, modular implementation and a greater push for wider collaboration amongst the stakeholders to improve quality and outcomes

Agile practices and processes will be strong themes and proof points for the rest of the year. Add to this a greater push on the economics of software delivery from the likes of IBM and others, and there may start to be a better and more business-aligned recognition of the real value and opportunities within a well maintained application lifecycle and software delivery process.

Software and application security have been top line issues for businesses, IT departments and the supply community for a number of years. Yet insecure software continues to dominate. Undoubtedly a new conversation on software security is needed. The dynamics in the vendor market suggest that this is very likely to happen as we head towards the end of the year. HP's recent purchase of Fortify, IBM Software group's own security acquisitions and its "Secure by design" initiative, along with Microsoft's drive for secure software design, suggests the drawing of a key battle line.

Of course, these are not the only areas of focus for the software development community. Greater automation across the lifecycle, improved analytics and modeling and model-driven development in general deserve a fair mention too. So, let's take advantage of the slight lull -- a lot will be happening in the months ahead!

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