Blog archive

2015 Enterprise Dev Predictions, Part 3: Digital Transformation and Lifecycle Virtualization

More on This Topic:

And finally...Okay, this one isn't so much a set of predictions as observations on some trends enterprise developers should be aware of at the dawn of 2015.

Industry analyst and author Jason Bloomberg is president of Intellyx, an analysis and training firm he founded last June. He's probably best known as a longtime ZapThink analyst (and president, before he went out on his own). He has also written several books; I'm a fan of The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013).

I recently caught up with Bloomberg shortly before he headed to Las Vegas for the annual CES gizmogasm. He pointed to two trends that he believes will have a profound effect on enterprise developers this year. First, what he called "the digital transformation."

"Customer preferences and behavior are now driving enterprise technology decisions more than they ever have before," he said. "That includes B-to-B and B-to-C. They're driving this combination of digital touch points and ongoing innovation at the user interface, and the enterprise is upping the ante on performance, resilience, and the user experience. But it all has to connect, end-to-end. All the pieces have to fit together."

DevOps, which connects development and operations, is now being extended to the business, to the customer experience, Bloomberg said. (He called it "DevOps on steroids.") This trend also includes things like continuous integration, continuous delivery, and established Agile methodologies that now have to connect to the customer at increasing levels.

These changes could be especially challenging for enterprise developers, Bloomberg said, because the shift is organizational, which is very different from the technology changes they're used to. If companies get this right, he said, server-side developers and user-facing developer will be working together in a new way, focused on delivering technology value to customers.

"Developers are going to be called upon to expand past their boundaries, in terms of how they can contribute and provide value to the companies they work for," he said. "This shakes some traditional developers to their core, but it's also very exciting to a lot of people, especially the twentysomethings, who are becoming the go-to players for digital technology. This is what they live and breath."

These shifts are already showing up in retail and media (Google, Netflix, Spotify), but Bloomberg expects them to spread quickly to virtually every industry. "I think it's going into overdrive in 2015," he said.

Trend No. 2: the Moore's-Law-like progress of The Internet of Things, which is evolving around exponential improvements in things like batteries, which are shrinking as they become more powerful, and burgeoning memory capacity.

"People tend to think linearly," Bloomberg said. "They expect things to get twice as good every year. But things are going to explode. The question will quickly become, how do we take advantage of so many different improvements in the technology? What can I do with a battery that is a thousandth of the size of current batteries, with processors that are a thousand times more powerful, with terabytes of memory?"

Developers in the trenches who just need to get their jobs done will have a hard time finding solid ground amid all of these changes, he said.

"All of this stuff is changing so fast, it's hard to know what's real and what's hype," Bloomberg said. "You could argue that it's always been this way, but developers are facing a range of changes that are going to be disruptive and quite challenging in the coming year."

Theresa Lanowitz is another industry watcher who went out on her own. The former Gartner analyst founded Voke, Inc. in 2006 to cover "the edge of innovation driven by technology, innovation, disruption, and emerging market trends." The white papers she publishes are not to be missed.

Among other things, Lanowitz has been tracking the enterprise adoption of the practice of applying virtualization to the pre-production portion of the application lifecycle, which she has dubbed Lifecycle Virtualization. A number of technologies support this practice, including most prominently service virtualization (provided by vendors such as CA, Parasoft, and HP), but also virtual and cloud-based labs (Skytap), and network virtualization (HP with its Shunra acquisition).

"We're starting to see more and more organizations saying, okay, we recognize this need for parity among dev, QA, and operations," she said. "We also understand that we need to support our line of business. How do we do that? We move virtualization to the portion of the application lifecycle where it really helps to control the business outcome."

Lanowitz expects this shift to take off in 2015, she said, because the tools are getting much better. "It makes a huge difference," she said.

Service virtualization in particular is gaining traction in the enterprise, Lanowitz said. She defines it as the process of enabling dev and test teams to statefully simulate and model their dependencies of unavailable or limited services and data that cannot be easily virtualized by conventional server or hardware virtualization means. She stresses stateful simulation in her definition, "because many organizations will say service virtualization is the same as mocking and stubbing. Service virtualization is an architected solution; mocking and stubbing are workarounds."

The bottom line: Service virtualization allows for testing much earlier in the application lifecycle, which ultimately makes it possible to deliver better business value and outcomes. It's that value proposition that's going to cause Lifecycle Virtualization to show up on a growing number of developers' radar in the coming year.

"If you really believe in the potential of a collaborative environment that includes dev, QA, and operations, then a solution like service virtualization is a defining technology," she said. "The team that benefits from it most directly is the test team, of course. They can test more frequently, they understand their meantime to defect discovery, they can increase their test execution, and they can increase their test coverage. But it is the development team that has to implement service virtualization to make that happen."

Lanowitz is at work on a new white paper updating her 2012 Lifecycle Virtualization stats. I'll let you know when it's published.

Posted by John K. Waters on January 16, 2015