Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trends of 2010

The year is almost over and it’s hard to refrain from nostalgic retrospective of major trends than emerged during the past 12 month. None of these trends started in 2010 but each of them seems to reach an important inflection point.

Clouds are now pretty much at the pinnacle of their hype. Everybody is doing something cloudy now. There is a good reason for it – they do seem to provide a real value in certain situations. Their sweet spot is powering development and testing environments, offloading temporary load spikes and low-investment test-bed for startup ideas. The key to their success is their on-demand elasticity and provisioning. So far it seems that Amazon is by far the clear leader in cloud providers. Other PaaS and SaaS providers like Google App Engine and SalesForce are much more nichy and restrictive.
There are still big unanswered questions with the clouds which include security, regulatory compliance, vendor lock-in, etc. Probably next few years will see rapid evolution of cloud computing that would address some of those problems.

Mobile Development is capturing huge attention and interest. Recent success of iPhone Apps and Smart Mobile devices in general look like an inflection point of a broader shift in computation devices away from the traditional desktops. It is true that many Smart Phones today pack in more processing power than desktop computers 10-15 years ago. If this trend continues then new tools and methods will need to be developed and adjusted for mobile applications that are still in their infancy.

NoSQL databases are becoming ever more widespread. Their ability to scale for today’s information and communication needs often outweighs compromises that are made when moving away from traditional RDBMS. I wrote a short blog about various popular NoSQL options. An interesting and very recent trend is support that major frameworks like Spring begin to provide for NoSQL DBs. Grails GORM now carries support for a number of NoSQL databases.
While many people read NoSQL as “NO SQL”, a better approach would probably be “Not Only SQL” because relational database are not going to go away any time soon and still provide very valuable services.

Functional Programming is getting more and more publicity. It seems that Functional Renaissance started from necessity to write programs targeted at multi-core computers. Functional Programming paradigms lend to better distribution of computations among the CPU “heads”. A proliferation of functional languages is now emerging: from grand-daddy of all functional languages Lisp, to new kids on the block - Scala, Closure, Erlang, Haskell and F#.  Some languages such as Scala attempt to bridge Object Oriented and Functional programming by allowing the developer to choose the most suitable tools within the language.

There are many more interesting developments in such areas as Social programming and Agile methodologies but they are somewhat less pronounced than the trends that I have mentioned.

Certainly year 2010 feels like an important stage in development of computing and software in many important areas. Major paradigm shifts are occurring in the whole information processing universe. It will be interesting to see how these trends evolve and what new trends are in store for 2011 and beyond.

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