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2016 Dev Predictions, Part 1: DevOps, APIs, Microservices, More

My annual, informal survey of industry watchers about challenges and opportunities for enterprise developers in the coming year led me this year to a group of Forrester analysts (Jeffrey S. Hammond, Kurt Bittner, John R. Rymer, Diego Lo Giudice, Jost Hoppermann, John M. Wargo, Randy Heffner and Michael Facemire) who made some predictions back in November in a must-read report, "Predictions 2016: Modern Development Goes Mainstream").

The report covers such trends as continuous delivery, DevOps, composable apps, microservices and API management -- all of which have been the province of bleeding-edge enterprise appdev-and-delivery teams, but which may now be going mainstream. I caught up with two of the report's authors, Jeffrey S. Hammond and Randy Heffner, and talked with them via e-mail about what they see on the horizon for enterprise developers.

One of the biggest challenges facing the industry in the coming year, Hammond told me, will be a dearth of JavaScript developers with experience building microservices architectures and using public cloud services. "Everyone wants these folks," he said, "and can't find them."

This will also be the year of "making things work" for IoT, he said. "Everyone 'knows' it's going to be big, but we still have to write the code and connect the things. We'll see some cool successes, while a lot of folks struggle, because IoT dev is harder than IT or mobile dev -- the 'ilities' are trickier. The cloud players will benefit as the stand-up IoT services that are 'good enough' for most developers to deal with the complexity."

Hammond also expects real opportunities for developers to emerge this year from the much-hyped virtual reality and augmented reality markets. That would be my prediction, too, given the growing and intense interest in AR/VR among so many big players (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, and even Apple). Hammond expects to see "a strong focus on the next generation of AR/VR technologies" in 2016.

"We're gearing up for the Oculus," he said, "and I think folks have almost forgotten about Glass. And then I'm expecting big Hololens progress at [Microsoft's Build 2016 conference] in March. So, in the space of three months, we could see three major players vying for devs' attention with AR/VR devices."

Heffner underscored a couple of the report's predictions. One of the most intriguing: "A broader API conversation drives a better understanding of API strategy."

Everyone has been focused on APIs for mobile and open Web APIs, he observed, but that's likely to change this year as "a greater industry focus on B2B APIs and internal APIs for more than mobile will drive an increase in the proportion of well-rounded API strategies." In short, that conversation will be about the value APIs deliver to the business. And it will be developers who inject "API thinking" into business strategy, he said. His advice: "As AD&D pros identify APIs for point solutions, they should consider not just their immediate need, but also how each point solution contributes to their organization's evolving portfolio of APIs. They should understand the different types of APIs -- business APIs, UI-layer APIs, and more -- and craft design guidance appropriate to each type.

Heffner also pointed to the report's conclusion that developers will probably be leading much of this change in 2016. They should, in fact, make a point of lending their deeper understanding of APIs to execs to get them up to speed on how business APIs open broad access to core business capabilities and have the potential to "open new lines of business and new angles into delivering their current business strategies," he said.

The growing adoption of what Forrester calls "agile-plus-architecture" in the coming year is also going to demand new leadership from AD&D pros, he said. They are likely to find themselves working with their "architecture counterparts" to develop organizational structures and processes that bring "streamlined, collaborative architecture practices into their Agile and continuous delivery streams." He added: "If architecture teams are not there yet, AD&D pros should help bring them along by inviting collaboration at key points in their delivery processes."

There's lots more in the report, which I highly recommend.

And there's more coming in this space on what's in store for developers in 2016. I talked with lots of insightful observers this year, so stay tuned for Part 2 ("2016 Dev Predictions, Part 2: Cognitive Computing, IoT, Cloud, More") and Part 3 ("2016 Dev Predictions, Part 3: Mainstream Microservices, Reactive Streams and Containers-as-a-Service").

Posted by John K. Waters on January 22, 2016