Ideas and views expressed here are purely my own and none of my employer or any related affiliation.
Yeah, I know. It has been more than 13 years. Still remember how it started. It was New Years Eve of the new millennium (yeah year 2000) and I was standing on the shore of the Persian Gulf in Dubai. With my stomach full of delicious Lebanese grilled food and a local newspaper in hand looking for jobs. I was a frustrated Doctor, hurt by the patient abuse and discouraged by the lack of appreciation and creativity in my job. And the very small section of medical jobs compared to pages, after pages, after pages of computer jobs. Well, it was the dot.com boom days, you know, it was the bubble - so we know now. And that was it. A life-changing decision to self-teach myself network administration and get MCSE certificate.
Funny thing is I never did. I got distracted, side-tracked by something much more interesting. Yeah programming, you know, when it gets its hooks in you, it doesn't leave you - never. Hence it started by Visual Basic, and then HTML, and obviously databases which started from Microsoft Access. Then you had to learn SQL Server, And not to forget web programming: ASP 3.0. I remember I printed some docs and it was 14 pages of A4. It had everything I needed to write ASP pages, connect to database, store, search, everything. With that 14 pages I built a website for some foreign Journalists working in Iran: IranReporter - It was up until a few years ago. I know it looks so out-dated and primitive but for a 14-page documentation not so bad.
And for me, ASP.NET Web API was the big thing. I have spent best part of the last 2 years, learning, blogging, helping out, writing OSS libraries for it and then co-authoring a book on this beautiful technology. And I love it. True I have not been recognised for it and am not an MVP - and honestly not sure what else could do to deserve to become one - but that is OK, I did what I did because I loved and enjoyed it.
So why Goodbye?Well, I am not going anywhere! I love C# - I don't like Java. I love Visual Studio - and eclipse is a pain. I adore ASP.NET Web API. I love NuGet. I actually like Windows and dislike Mac. So I will carry on writing C# and use ASP.NET Web API and Visual Studio. But I have to shift focus. I have no other option and in the next few lines I try to explain what I mean.
Reality is our industry is on the cusp of a very big change. Yes, a whirlwind of the change happened already over the last few years but well, to put it bluntly I was blind.
So based on what I have seen so far I believe IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS:
1. All data problems become Big Data problemsIf you don't like generalisations you won't like this one too - when I mean all I mean most. But the point is industries and companies will either shrink or grow based on their IT agility. The ones shrinking not worth talking about. The ones growing will have big data problems if they do not have them yet. This is related to the growth of internet users as well as realization of Internet of Things. And the other reason is the adoption of Event-Based Architecture which will massively increase the amount of data movement and data crunching.
Data will be made of what currently is not data. Your mouse move and click is the kind of data you would have to deal with. Or user eye movement. Or input from 1000s of sensors inside your house. And this stuff is what you will be working on day-in day-out.
Dear Microsoft, Big Data solutions did not come from you. And despite my wishes, you did not provide a solution of your own. I love to see an alternative attempt and a rival to Hadoop to choose from. But I am stuck with it, so better embrace it. There are some alternatives emerging (real-time, in-memory) but again they come from the Java communities.
2. Any server-side code that cannot be horizontally scaled is gonna dieIs that even a prediction? We have had web farms for years and had to think of robust session management all these years. But something has changed. First of all, it is not just server-stickiness. You have to recover from site-stickiness and site failures too. On the other hand, this is again more about data.
So the closer you are to the web and further from data, the more likely that your technology will survive. For example, API Layer technologies are here to stay. As such ASP.NET Web API has a future. Cannot say the same thing for middleware technologies, such as BizTalk or NServiceBus. Databases? Out of question.
3. Data locality will still be an issue so technologies closer to data will prevail
Data will still be difficult to move in the years to come. While our bandwidth is growing fast, our data is growing faster so this will probably be even a bigger problem. So where your data is will be a key in defining your technologies. If you use Hadoop, using Java technologies will make more and more sense. If you are Amazon S3, likelihood of using Kafka than Azure Service Bus.
4. We need 10x or 100x more data scientists and AI specialists
Again not a prediction. We are already seeing this. So perhaps I can sharpen some of my old skills in computer vision.
So what does it mean for me?
As I said, I will carry on writing C#, ASP.NET Web API and read or write from SQL Server and do my best to write the best code I can. But I will start working on my Unix skills (by using it at home) and pick up one or two JVM languages (Clojure, Scala) and work on Hadoop. I will take Big Data more seriously. I mean real seriously... I need to stay close to where innovation is happening which sadly is not Microsoft now. From the Big Data to Google Glass and cars, it is all happening in the Java communities - and when I mean Java communities I do not mean the language but the ecosystem that is around it. And I will be ready to jump ships if I have to.
And still wish Microsoft wakes up to the sound of its shrinking, not only in the PC market but also in its bread and butter, enterprise.