Dec 132012

Due to the uncertainty of our times, I’m going to make two predictions. First, the world will come to an end on December 21st, exactly as the Mayans DID NOT predict hundreds of years ago. Granted, the Mayan calendar runs out on the 21st but to be quite frank my calendar runs out every year on December 31st and the world has still gone on despite of that dire prediction. The Mayan calendar myth dates back to the mid-1970s, a time when we were seeing Sasquatches in every forest, aliens eviscerating cows in every farm field, and chariots of the gods in the skies of South America. At that time we were also doing prodigious levels of pharmaceuticals, a level that is only seen on California university campuses today, so should we really be surprised of a Zombie Apocalypse prophesy based on an ancient chunk of rock?

– OR –

Assuming the world is still here on December 22nd, the year 2013 is going to prove to be very interesting when it comes to shifting development paradigms. There are four converging trends in the IT marketplace which makes me believe this:

  1. New architectures. Platforms such as Cloud and SaaS, although clearly overhyped, are in fact enabling small firms to run rings around established competitors. While incumbent organizations are holding meetings trying to reach a decision as to whether it’s safe to experiment with these technologies, new entrants to the market are already deploying them in innovative new products. The incumbents aren’t stupid and they’re starting to see the light.
  2. Collaborative development strategies. Open source and crowdsourcing have proven themselves over the past decade and continue to grow in popularity. Are there any IT departments out there anymore that aren’t using open source tools and infrastructure products, either knowingly or unknowingly, in some way? More and more organizations are starting to realize that in many cases they can get more advanced products, and very often far better support, free of charge. It’s amazing what happens when developers are no longer constrained by commercial products forced upon them by senior management.
  3. Mobile.  The move away from the desktop in favor of mobile devices such as tablets and phones, in combination with bring your own device (BYOD) policies, are throwing both operations and development teams for a loop. With app stores offering a myriad of inexpensive yet sophisticated applications and ubiquitous wireless connectivity, our stakeholder’s expectations have risen dramatically. The only way we can meet those expectations is by choosing new ways of working.
  4. Software process. Over the past two years there have been three exciting trends when it comes to software process. Eric Ries’ Lean Startup book has gotten a lot of people, and not just those in startups, rethinking and slimming down their approach to development. The DevOps movement is motivating organizations to get serious about bridging the gap between the development and operations side of the house, although the DevOps community is arguably overly focused on continuous delivery at the current moment. The Disciplined Agile Delivery(DAD) process decision framework has put critical agile and lean strategies together – including Scrum, XP, DevOps, Kanban, Agile Modeling, and Lean Startup – in a coherent and non-religious manner for the first time. The new ways of working that I mentioned earlier exist and have been proven in practice; now is the time to start getting serious about adopting them.

I believe that these four trends are motivating organizations of all kinds – financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, telecoms, and even government agencies – to seriously rethink how they approach software development. The marketplace will no longer tolerate the multi-year, big-bang, high risk projects of yesteryear. Nor will prevailing economic forces support ad-hoc hacking by two-day “Certified Masters”, at the one extreme, or the scientific-façade of traditional techniques founded in the 1970s at the other extreme. As a result, my prediction is that 2013 will mark the beginning of a multi-year paradigm shift within the IT community towards a leaner, swifter, and more disciplined way of working.

[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series.]


  One Response to “Development Paradigm Shift over Zombie Apocalypse”

  1. DevOps is definitely overly focused on continuous deployment right now. I think application support is the biggest need for DevOps. Agile development causes a never ending stream of releases which also creates a never ending stream of application defects and support issues. Companies need agile support to back up their agile development and DevOps is what can make it happen. I wrote a great article about this: Agile Development Requires Agile Support

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