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Neo4j 2021 Predictions: Standardized Cloud Operations & The Future of Work

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Standardized Cloud Operations & The Future of Work

By Michael Hunger, Director of Developer Relations, Neo4j

Last year, I wrote my predictions on what a new decade would bring to the tech and developer community. Little did I know at the time how unprecedented 2020 would turn out to be. Looking ahead into 2021, developers will face an entirely new set of challenges from adapting to emerging technology and standardization, to shifting to a remote work culture. Developers will also increasingly gain the responsibility of shaping policy and behavior, as every part of society becomes more intertwined with technology. While 2021 may be just as unpredictable as this past year, here's what I envision we'll see.

Emerging Trends and Technology

Kubernetes will become the deployment standard next year. All big cloud vendors support Kubernetes as a first-class deployment environment. The cloud-native foundation turned out to be a driving force behind many developments in the cloud orchestration and deployment lifecycle tools. These developments even went so far as to move away from a lot of the Docker infrastructure requirements in the core Kubernetes environment.

With the technology landscape and developer market becoming increasingly more fragmented, I also predict we'll see a trend of making cloud operations more "standardized" and developer-friendly to help support quicker innovation. As developer and DevOps folks can't be expected to learn and understand each cloud provider's tooling in detail, there will be more initiatives that abstract that away into a surface of best practices, as illustrated by Hashicorp Waypoint. There will be similar competing products from the cloud providers, or they might embrace an "industry standard" e.g. from the CNCF. On the CI-CD front, there will be more consolidation with GitHub Actions (Microsoft) taking over market share from TravisCI and CircleCI and getting better integrated with the cloud deployment tools.

Additionally, I expect more consolidation in the big data space to take place. There may be a number of acquisitions or closings of non-sustainable businesses. Large cloud providers will become one-stop shops with comprehensive offerings across all the database models, either through partnerships like Google, their own developments like Microsoft, or cannibalization of successful open-source vendors like AWS.

Other areas that will extend in 2021 include edge computing and the low-code movement. With edge computing, more and more capabilities will be pushed to more powerful devices in the hands of the users, which also ties to security, privacy and data-ownership concerns. I also predict a big push in the low-code, high productivity part of application development, where platforms like Netlify, Vercel, and AWS Amplify will compete for market share. This will drive up an arms-race on developer experience, both in stacks and frameworks, but also in developer tools, IDE plugins, and command-line and API integrations. As part of this, GraphQL will see continued investment and growth.

2021 Outlook for Developers

As we've seen increased scrutiny of bias in AI/ML, developers will be challenged to build models and algorithms ethically and eliminate bias more seriously. With the power of social media growing, developers will not only shape opinion but actual politics and human behavior. More powerful AI tools will lead to more questioning by politics and society, not just for bias but also energy use, ethics and the need for Human AI - the collaboration of humans and algorithms to complement each other.

The acceleration of the industry shift from office to remote culture will have a huge impact on how and where developers live, learn and work. The impact of the existing centers of technology will shrink, while an increase in work-life balance will be made possible. It will also affect how people collaborate, sparking opportunities for better policies, new collaboration tools and innovative approaches for software development. With the acquisition of Slack by Salesforce, one question is if Microsoft will push Teams more into the developer space (via GitHub-Chat and VS-Code), or if new alternatives like Discord and Mattermost will pick up traction.

I predict the biggest opportunity for developers will be the speed of iteration and innovation that will only escalate with much of the deployment, compute and data(-science) starting to become utilities.


About the Author

Michael Hunger 

Michael Hunger is the Director of Developer Relations at Neo4j. He has been passionate about software development for more than 25 years. For the last 10 years, he has been working on the open source Neo4j graph database filling many roles. As caretaker of the Neo4j community and ecosystem he especially loves to work with graph-related projects, users, and contributors.

As a developer Michael enjoys many aspects of programming languages, learning new things every day, participating in exciting and ambitious open source projects and contributing and writing software related books and articles. Michael spoke at numerous conferences and helped organize several of them. His efforts got him accepted to the JavaChampions program. Michael helps kids to learn to program by running weekly girls-only coding classes at local schools.

Published Wednesday, December 23, 2020 7:29 AM by David Marshall
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