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Top 10 developer stories of 2018

Thanks to DevOps, the need for businesses to develop software more quickly and a thriving open source community, 2018 has been a good year for developers

What has become apparent over the course of 2018 is that building an internal software development team has become increasingly important as business transform digitally.

From a developer perspective, the trend is to move away from traditional multi-tier architecture to a cloud-native approach, comprising loosely coupled application services that can run either on-premise or in the public cloud.

While some of these application services may be written in-house, there is growing interest in making use of third-party, external software-powered services that make use of open application programming interfaces (APIs). This is leading to an API-powered ecosystem, where third-party application developers are able to derive value from services provided by another organisation.

One successful example of this is the Transport for London open API, which is used to power apps such as Bus Checker and feed Twitter and Google, to help commuters find out how to get around London.

Many companies also see an opportunity to use containers to encapsulate legacy applications. Once containerised, it is then possible to provide managed access to these applications by opening up APIs. Software developers can then make use of the APIs to connect their modern, cloud-native applications to services running in the legacy application.

From a Computer Weekly perspective, what is quite interesting about cloud native technologies is that much of it is about ongoing open source development. From a CIO perspective, it may be hard to see where to go for a cloud native strategy.

However, just as was the case with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the way public cloud established itself, the tools and technologies of cloud-native computing are probably already running for projects across the business.

The challenge for the CIO is to ensure there is an overall strategy that gives developers the freedom to use the tools and open source components that best meet their requirement, while providing a flexible governance framework that meets the requirements of the business.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 developer stories of 2018:

1. Why Kubernetes is driving a groundswell in containerisation

Kubernetes is fast becoming a de facto standard, but CIOs may be unaware of its footprint in their businesses. According to analyst Gartner, the market has chosen Kubernetes as the de facto container orchestration technology, and at the recent KubeCon conference in Shanghai, several businesses joined the user community for Kubernetes. New user community members include Amadeus, Atlassian, Mastercard, PostFinance, State Street, Swiss Mobiliar, Walmart, WeWork and Workday.

2. An overview of deep learning tools

The current reawakening of AI has been facilitated by advances in hardware from processing to memory to data storage, but also by our ability to now develop complex algorithmic structures capable of running on these new super-powered backbones. As AI and deep learning matures, we look at advanced tools that enable developers to start building sophisticated, intelligent applications.

3. Transform business with microservices and containers

Since the mid-2000s, thanks to the growth of JavaScript on servers and Java application servers, service-oriented architecture (SOA) emerged as the new enterprise integration champion. Now, thanks to the success of Docker and Kubernetes, more businesses are looking at deploying containers. Computer Weekly looks at how DevOps and microservice-based technology have advanced IT architectures.

4. Inside DevOps, containers and enterprise security

The IT infrastructure needed for today’s globalised, agile digital businesses is changing rapidly. Gone – or fast-disappearing – are the days of slow-moving IT development and applications that are rarely upgraded apart from periodic security patching. Global corporates are waking up to containers and orchestrated containerisation for software development that is fast and safe. Computer Weekly looks at the best approach to ensure security is not compromised along the way.

5. Making sense of Microsoft’s cloud developer platform

In early 2016, Microsoft stated in a “Microsoft by the numbers” announcement that more than 25% of Azure virtual machines (VMs) were Linux. By the end of 2016, it was saying “nearly one in three”. In October 2017, it announced 40% of VMs in Azure were running Linux. Computer Weekly assesses how Microsoft is aligning its development tools to support Linux and open source, in light of its acquisition of GitHub.

6. Organised thinking builds app success

Large enterprises need to build a mobile app development organisation that will scale to simultaneously develop and maintain multiple apps across different parts of the company. Business units, sales, marketing and operations will all demand different levels of support for customers, employees and business partners. Computer Weekly looks at how large enterprises can create an efficient organisational structure for mobile app development.

7. Is DevOps the best approach to software development?

Organisations are rightly focused on the need to meet customer demands for instant access to their services. Technology acceptance means that customer expectations have soared. They want to use any and every device at their disposal, switching between them at will, yet still expect a seamless service.

8. Cloud clearance: Working out the best way forward

There is no getting away from the fact that cloud can be complex, as enterprises have to make sense of the varying propositions of myriad providers, and the veritable jungle of options and services they have to offer. Making sense of who does what in the cloud, and which providers are the best fit for your business, can be a difficult process for enterprises to work through.

9. How does a testing tool become a platform?

Testing was once a just a “thing”’, now it’s an as-a-service (aaS) software application development utility and, in many cases, it is positioned as a platform in its own right.

10. Feature management and delivery

A feature flag (sometimes also called a feature flipper, feature toggle or feature switch) is a software application development programming technique designed to provide an alternative approach to shouldering the burden of maintaining multiple source code branches (also known as feature branches) – and so provide a means of testing new features prior to their deployment, or indeed their full release.

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