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How the developer role needs to evolve

At Gartner Catalyst, Kyle Hilgendorf discusses the changing roles of developers and architects and the competitive IaaS market.

San Diego -- The annual Gartner Catalyst Conference covers computing trends and technologies that will impact every CIO, developer, architect and even end user for years to come. Gartner research vice president Kyle Hilgendorf, who specializes in cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), sat down with SearchCloudApplications for a wide-ranging interview, starting with how the developer role will evolve. Click to read  part one and part two.

SearchCloudApplications: If you are a developer or architect, what is your job going to look like a year or two from now, and what will you need to know that you don't know today?

Kyle Hilgendorf

Kyle Hilgendorf: The developer role at the fundamental level doesn't really change except for more of a demand on them. The way the role will change for specific individuals is the way in which we've developed applications in a traditional IT environment that doesn't really fit a cloud-first world. There's a variety of different characteristics and principles that developers have to start figuring out how to build into their applications. The way you'd do that in .NET might be different from Java or Ruby. It's the concept that no longer can we build applications that are tightly coupled, that are dependent upon static configurations, like IP addresses and DNS names. They need to be parallelizable and they can no longer have sub-millisecond latency. You might have to get comfortable dealing with 30 milliseconds of latency in a global cloud deployment.

What about the architectural aspect?

There's a variety of different characteristics and principles that developers have to start figuring out how to build into their applications.
Kyle Hilgendorf, Gartner

KH: From an architecture perspective, it depends on what you oversee. The network architect is going to have to start thinking a lot less about the internal LAN and a lot more about global integration, more work with Internet service providers and carrier-neutral colocation facilities. Identity architects need to think about the dissemination and federation of a variety of different identity domains. The integration architect needs to think about data translation between multiple SaaS  providers and infrastructure providers. Data architects need to think about data movement. It's the evolution of those roles, which are more important than they've ever been.

Is it fair to say that Infrastructure as a Service is a two-horse race between Amazon and Microsoft, or are others, including Google, IBM, VMware, Rackspace and others starting to catch up?

KH: Everybody's in the race, but Amazon and Microsoft have a very significant lead. The vast majority of inquiries Gartner gets are from organizations interested in either Amazon or Microsoft, or the combination of the two. That's not to say that the other providers are not winning clients; they are. But, in terms of an aggregated percentage of customer adoptions and wins, it really is becoming an Amazon and Microsoft world.

Can those two leaders plus the second tier satisfy all situations?

You might have to get comfortable dealing with 30 milliseconds of latency in a global cloud deployment.

KH: I firmly believe we need more providers. I don't think two providers can last forever and expect the market will adjust and evolve over time.  You will see opportunities for some of the other providers to become even more substantial in terms of customer adoption.

We're also seeing a race to the bottom in terms of pricing.

KH: We are and that's why we've already seen several providers exit the industry. They were not able to compete on the economics, scale and price. I do believe that even though we need more than two providers, there's just a handful that have the scale, engineering, and efficiencies to compete at that level. Does that mean there won't be boutique cloud providers at some point that are very niche-oriented or industry specific? I think we'll have plenty of those, but they are not going to compete at the massive, global hyperscale environments.

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As a developer, how do you see your role changing and what new skills do you need as cloud computing becomes more widely deployed?