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Oracle's Top 6 Predictions for Developers in 2017

Talking with Siddhartha Agarwal, Oracle's VP of product management and strategy, about the trends his company expects to impact developers in the coming year, I couldn't resist the obvious pun.

"So, you're Oracle's oracle?"

"You could say that, I guess," he said. "But these predictions are based not on my thinking, but on many conversations we've had with our customers, mostly large enterprises. Not many people tell us, for example, that they are currently using containers in development and production. But many people tell us that they want to use containers and they are starting down that path."

Agarwal is responsible for product management and strategy across Oracle's PaaS portfolio. His job, he said, is about "taking this rich portfolio and coming up with the solutions people want and ways to getting them to market."

Those customer conversations have led Oracle, "which has always been very good with IT," to a new focus on delivering "an open, modern, easy platform for developers," he said. "Developers are a very important constituency for us."

Readers should feel free, of course, to take these prognostications with a grain of salt (as we should all industry augury). But keep in mind that Big O is betting big on these trends with investments in products and services with which it fully expects to exploit them.

1. New application development and deployment on containers will become more popular than dev-and-deploy on virtual machines toward the end of 2017 and into 2018.
"We all know the benefits of containers in improving the DevOps lifecycle," Agarwal said, "but when the containers go into production there's a lot more stuff for the developers to manage. They need to manage orchestration tools, such as Kubernetes, for example, and they might need to manage scheduling paradigms, like Marathon, or they might need to manage Etcd, which is the open source distributed key-value store that Kubernetes uses.

"As this trend evolves, developers are going to want a comprehensive cloud-based Container-as-a-Service platform," he added, "something that provides a quick way to create an enterprise-grade container infrastructure."

Not surprisingly, Agarwal pointed to Oracle's Container Cloud Service as one of the solutions that will meet this demand. Announced at last year's Oracle OpenWorld conference, the service provides tools for composing, deploying, orchestrating and managing Docker container-based applications on the Oracle Cloud for Dev, Dev/Test, DevOps and Cloud Native use cases.

2. The number of application releases from typical businesses will double over the coming year.
Oracle believes this accelerated pace will be driven by a burgeoning crowd of line-of-business (LOB) people amid digital transformations who want to experiment, to try a lot of applications or initiatives, with the expectation that only a few of them will succeed. This pace is going to put a lot of pressure on developers, Agarwal said.

"We're finding that the LOB folks just want to try a bunch of things," he said. "They want to get 15 apps out the door, knowing that maybe 13 will fail. They want to test them quickly and get feedback from the users and then they know that the two that succeeded are the ones that will give them the best chance in the competitive marketplace."

3. All new devtest will be done in the cloud by 2020. A bold prediction, but a logical one, Agarwal said, given customer feedback.
"There are obvious benefits for developers from leveraging the cloud," he said. "One is the agility it provides for spinning up resources to build apps. More importantly, the technology or innovation they want to use is all being delivered in the cloud these days -- which means they use the latest and greatest tools to deliver the best apps in the shortest possible time."

Among the drivers of this trend: challenging CIO budgets. "If you think about it, CIOs are spending about 30 percent of their budgets on running, operating, spinning up and managing development environments," Agarwal said. "Now they can free up a significant part of that budget, because devs can manage the process themselves in the cloud."

Exceptions to this trend are likely to be found in organizations with significant compliance requirements, data residency restrictions, or security demands, he added. For those organizations, the devtest is still going to happen in the public cloud, he said, but the apps will need to be flexible and portable, so developers can test them in the public cloud, but then easily move them to the on-premises environment.

4. Everyone is going to want to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in their applications.
"AI is going to become the new user interface," Agarwal said. "Over the next year, we're going to see developers looking for ways to get AI capabilities into their applications. But data will be king. You can write as many phenomenal algorithms as you want, but until you have the data and a significant amount of it that the AI-based apps can leverage and deliver smart insight from, that's not going to be very useful."

4a. Chatbot apps with natural language processing will become the norm by 2018.
Along these same lines, Agarwal expects a growing number of developers to begin serious efforts around chatbots and natural language processing. "We're already seeing lots of companies putting out chatbots," he said. Oracle surprised attendees at the OpenWorld event with news that it would be getting into the chatbot business, joining companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Slack. The company plans to deliver a chatbot platform that will enable its customers to build a mobile engagement platform, Agarwal said, that will work seamlessly across mobile, Web and multiple messaging platforms.

5. By 2020 more than 20 percent of the developer community will be made up of non-traditional developers.
The number of so-called low-code developers has been growing steadily for years, so this isn't a particularly bold prediction. The trend is being powered by the same driver as No. 2: a new generation of LOB people who want to develop a Web or mobile app and quickly get it out the door.

Oracle is embracing this trend with its Application Builder Cloud Service, Agarwal pointed out. The low-code coder environment provides a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to "Rapidly create and host engaging business applications with a visual development environment right from the comfort of your browser," the Web site states.

More of these kinds of tools will be coming in the next year or so, Agarwal said, because the demand is growing. "People within marketing, customer service and HR will be able to use these low-code platforms to experiment, or to actually have real applications in production. As they drag and drop and build these apps, they'll be able to expose them as real-life applications. But a lot of it isn't necessarily about building strategic applications, but tactical apps that just help them to get things done."

6. Finally, 60 percent of IT organizations will move their critical systems management to the cloud by 2020.
Oracle is betting big on this one with the Oracle Management Cloud, a suite of integrated monitoring, management and analytics cloud services. "We've built a unified data platform," Agarwal said, "where the performance data across the Web tier, app tier and database tier and the log data being product on the servers by the VMs and the real-time user experience data -- all of it is being aggregated into one platform. And we put predictive machine learning algorithms into the infrastructure."

Posted by John K. Waters on January 12, 2017