Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Rishi Bhargava, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: Java IoT, Eclipse

Java IoT: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: The Future of Software Tools

i-Technology Viewpoint: The Future of Software Tools

In a recent press interview I was asked what I thought were some of the important trends for the future of software tools.

It's an interesting question, with many facets, so I was not sure how to respond. After some thought, here are the five areas I chose to highlight from my context of design and construction tool strategy. These are areas that have been occupying much of my thinking and discussions lately with customers, IBM Research, and the Rational teams. These are changing the kinds of software tools we are delivering, and the features the tools support.

1. Connecting business with IT: Business-driven development. The importance of understanding the business context for IT investment has never been more obvious than it is today. More organizations are recognizing the role of IT as a determining factor in the efficiency of their operations, and a bottleneck in their ability to innovate.

I am spending a lot of time with customers who want to explore business alternatives, drive IT projects more directly from business needs with well established business goals and ROI, choreograph services to realize their business processes, and monitor those services in execution to relate operations to the needs of the business. Support for that flow (in its myriad variations) is essential. As we use the current generation of tools in this context we are seeing the emergence of new roles, usage scenarios, and support needs. The lessons from this work are leading to a complete refactoring of tooling capabilities.


2. Greater transparency in the software development process:
Auditing, traceability, and accountability. Software plays a pivotal role in all our lives. It runs our financial institutions, controls the power and utility infrastructure, is embedded in almost every useful device we use, and so on. With this important role comes a certain responsibility.

Government regulators, lawyers, and auditors are beginning to pay increasing attention to the software industry to verify that the software we all rely on has been developed according to some provable quality standards. Sarbanes-Oxley and BASEL2 are just the tip of a very large iceburg. For example, in discussions with those in the auto industry I was overwhelmed by the role software plays in the design, manufacture, control, and management of automobiles, and the kinds of requirements they need fulfiled by the software tools they are using.

Suppose there is a major design flaw in the software managing the anti-lock brakes on a popular model of car that results in injury of a number of people. How does the manufacturer of the braking system prove that it was not negilgent in the design and implementation of that software? Were the engineers developing the software certified against some recognized standards? Were the processes used to develop the software audited for quality? How were software designs analyzed and validated before they were put into production? And so on.

This kind of rigour and auditability will become the norm. Tools must permit this level of access and control. I refer to this as transparency...of prcoess, design, realization, etc. New tooling will emerge that supports and enforces these design principles. Traceability and reporting at all levels will become essential.


3. RAD using new programming models: As Grady Booch likes to say, software drives the world's economies and in some regards we can consider software development to be the most important job in the world!. Yet we all know that the skills and qualities of the best software engineers are in short supply.

It must be possible for a larger community of people to develop sophisticated enterprise solutions and deploy them to heterogeneous runtime environments. We have a long way to go to make this happen. The gap between the way domain-focused users view the problem space and the way in which they must describe systems in the solution space is far too great. In the past, various ways of addressing this gap with CASE tools and 4GLs solved part of the problem, but created their own challenges in return (e.g., proprietary runtime layers, non-standard artifacts, lack of openness to integrate with other systems and services, inflexible high-ceremony design approaches, and so on).

Over the last few years we have seen ways to overcome these limitations with the emergence of robust patterns and frameworks for application development in many technology and business domains. We can raise the abstraction of programming model to be closer to the end-users' mental model of their problem space and use the patterns and frameworks to transform that to the solutions space for today's technologies. Techniques such as generative programming and MDA are a realization of this. We are seeing a lot of innovation in the software tools here.


4. Collaboration among individuals and teams: Much of the inefficiency in software development is a result of the friction between individuals and teams as they work together to share a common understanding of some element of concern, investigate issues from multiple perspectives to make a balanced decision, solve multi-dimensional problems, and so on.

There are many great advances in collaborative tools for interaction and sharing. It's great to be able to start a chat session in a new window while understanding a new piece of code, to view a remote desktop to see the problem a customer is experiencing in their environment, or to create a teleconference as needed to resolve a design issues among colleagues. But there is much more to be done to make those kinds of capabilities part of the software tools workbench of the teams. We'll see those ideas become much better aligned with software development tools so that software engineers can more easily work together on all aspects of the design process, and we'll see design practices evolve to take better advantage of their capabilities.


5. "Pay-per-use" software tools:
New licensing and subscription offerings. There are many pressures on software tool vendors to change the way in which tools are packaged and delivered. Initiatives such as open source software and hosted services via ASPs challenge conventional thinking on software tools.

We've seen some reaction in the marketplace (e.g., open source development tools workbenches such as Eclipse, and on-line testing services from different vendors). Customers are demanding more -- greater flexibility in how software tools are delivered, less overhead in upgrading software tools, more creative pricing based on how the tool is used, when it is used, and how much of it is used.

We are working on different kinds of software tool offerings in response to this by re-factoring the products we offer, increasing the ease with which different tool capabilities can be interchanged, and allowing access to software tool capabilities in a variety of access modes (various flavors of fat client and thin client access). Safe-to-say that lots of people building software in the future will not be buying, installing, and using tools in the way they do today.

Alan W. Brown blogged these comments originally at developerWorks.com. Reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.

More Stories By Alan W. Brown

Alan W. Brown is a Distinguished Engineer at IBM Rational software responsible for future product strategy of IBM Rational's Design and Construction products. He defines technical strategy and evangelizes product direction with customers looking to improve software development efficiency through visual modeling, generating code from abstract models, and systematic reuse.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Nice piece 11/22/04 07:57:23 AM EST

Refreshing to come at this from a tools perspective instead on la-di-da generalizations. The future of technology is better viewed through the lens of tools than the rose-tinted perspectives most CEOs trot out.

Toolsman 11/22/04 07:47:53 AM EST

Much of the inefficiency in software development is a result of the friction between individuals and teams as they work together to share a common understanding of some element of concern, investigate issues from multiple perspectives to make a balanced decision, solve multi-dimensional problems, and so on

How true. The human element is the Great Imponderable that not enough people seem to think, let alone write, about. great article!

@ThingsExpo Stories
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...