9 developer trends you can bank on in 2016

From containers to NoSQL to Spark, here are the IT trends you can expect to persist next year

9 developer trends you can bank on in 2016

My predictions are a little early this year, but don't worry, they're of the same sterling quality you've come to expect. Most apply to big data, but I've stepped outside the confines of my usual domain here and there for your entertainment. Enjoy.

Developer trend No. 1: Containers will rule the world

Docker will continue to develop, gain security features, and add various forms of governance so that you are unable to pull down a tree of containers that depend on pnwd.com. Emulating an entire machine on top of a machine was fundamentally a wasteful idea. Solaris zones were a good idea; Solaris zones on Linux with a packaging format are an even better idea. Add dependencies, and you're on fire.

Developer trend No. 2: Java’s decline as a language will accelerate

Whenever I mention that Java is in decline, someone throws job trends in my face. Well, try the other button and look at the jobs. Yes, there are more of them ... doing maintenance.

Now look at the Node.js or Spark or MongoDB job postings. Those are about doing new development. Which pays better? Which doesn’t put you in a cube farm of low-cost labor?

Also, asking for “Java experience” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be coding in Java (my company requires that so we can train you on Spark, where you’ll use Python or Scala). The Java decline has been slow, but new stuff isn’t being written in Java, even if it runs on the JVM. Also, Oracle is divesting. Learn something new -- or be the old mainframe Cobol developer of the future and hope to ride it out until retirement.

Developer trend No. 3: The EMC/Dell merger will be a debacle

Big mergers almost never really work out, so grade this prediction on a curve. The merger probably won’t be “finished” in 2016.

Acquiring EMC doesn’t make much sense if you’re trying to transition your hardware company into a cloud company or if your sweet spot is the midmarket. The only way this works out is if you really push, don’t care about short-term devaluation or losses, hold onto the sales team (somehow), and use those relationships to push your cloud. The trouble is you have to do that at the expense of EMC’s storage business and your server business. Novell failed at this royally, as anything it sold in its new product line melted the legacy.

Dell paid an imperial crapton of money for EMC and can’t afford that kind of scorched-earth, bridge-over-the-rubicon strategy of no turning back. You can’t perpetuate the past and bring the future. Wired’s “walking dead” article had great analysis and imagery. Nonetheless, I expect more legacy mergers next year.

Developer trend No. 4: NoSQL databases will take hold

“NoSQL” is a loser of a brand. I’d go with “highly scalable” or “cloud-ready.” With big corporate accounts like Marriott saying they did NoSQL to go to the cloud, that’s where you need to focus. Push it, go further. I think the message is out there -- and I expect 2016 to be the year when a lot of big brick-and-mortar companies publicly adopt NoSQL for critical operations.

Developer trend No. 5: Spark, Spark, Spark

Quite simply you can count on a whole lot more of Spark. Spark will stream, analyze, and enter the popular imagination. With Cloudera throwing its whole weight behind Spark and other vendors looking to jump on the next wave of big data, you can almost guarantee Spark will be everything it's cracked up to be.

Developer trend No. 6: Real-time everything

Not only real-time analytics, but real-time everything. This will start in earnest in 2016, but the trend will take years to play out. It involves changing not only your business, but your relationship with your suppliers, your customers, and everyone else. This will be one of the first truly meaningful productivity gains in the U.S. economy in more than a decade. It will change all sectors from finance to retail and manufacturing. It's a change driven by technology -- but it will cause a fundamental shift in the way business works.

Developer trend No. 7: ETL will continue to be the silent killer

It really doesn’t matter what we’re talking about. It could be a project or you simply want to add a technology to your stack -- but getting the data there and in the correct form is like 80 percent of the cost? Until ETL becomes less of a pain, it's a drag on anything new. Sadly, “ETL” isn’t a sexy marketing term, so don’t expect great improvements in this area.

Developer trend No. 8: “Self-service” will be 2016’s keyword

"Self-service" can refer to how users interact with technology -- or how customers interact with a company. The old IT mantra, “say no first until someone makes us,” doesn't work anymore. The best companies will build cultures of performance and doing the right thing -- and will make data and the processes around it self-service for all their employees. Users may bring their own devices or subscribe to cloud services, but if they can’t make it work without an onerous bureaucracy, then they won’t be productive. Self-service isn’t only a nice-to-have, it's the only way scale can be managed without dragging down productivity.

Developer trend No. 9: Management of big data and container farms

This will start to be a real discussion. Vendors are starting to claim to do it. There are even a few that do. Until now Docker has been tire-kicking, used in production by the early-adopter crowd only. You should expect to hear a lot more conversations around “governance,” “management,” and “monitoring” of all this stuff. Don’t expect too many solutions until the latter part of 2016. It's still early.

Well, that's what I see up ahead. What things do you see happening now that will accelerate in the new year?

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.