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The 8 Software Engineering Trends of 2021

Emily-Jane Rafferty
The 8 Software Engineering Trends of 2021

The year 2020 held witness to the global outbreak of COVID-19; suddenly our physical workplaces were closed, we had to queue to enter stores, and all events in the calendar were canceled. For many people, it really felt that someone had paused their life and they just needed to wait this pandemic out to be reacquainted with normality. However, there were also others who were using this time to be innovative, and analytical to understand what gaps we have in technology. They were not waiting for the return of normality as we once knew it, but they were ensuring that the software we use was more resilient and appropriate for 2021. The question these people were asking was how can we efficiently continue work in the midst of uncertainty?

A huge proportion of workplaces struggled initially with the pandemic with their current software. A recent survey conducted by the United Nations and the World Bank (with responses from 122 countries) proved the pandemic has affected the operations of the vast majority of national statistical offices: 65 percent of headquarters were partially or fully closed, 90 percent have instructed staff to work from home, and 96 percent have partially or fully stopped face-to-face data collection. So how did software need to evolve to help this situation? Garter categorized three key needs for software engineering for 2021 which are: people centricity, location independence, and resilient delivery. So, here are the 8 software engineering trends that are taking over this year and will continue to have a significant impact in years to come:

1. Cloud-Native Development

A cloud-native approach is truly the future of the cloud. This approach is disruptive and uses the best features of the Cloud including speed, resilience, and scalability but it has a different architectural style that is better suited for customer experience and market changes. The tools and technologies of cloud-native computing are microservers, containers, DevOps, APIs, and it is serverless. You can read about the differences between cloud-native and traditional applications here.

Through cloud-native development solutions, the customers can optimize their applications and integrate them if the conditions arise. What is most beneficial about becoming cloud-native is that it does not just run things on the Cloud, but it completely rethinks an entire business, and it involves a reconsideration of how we design systems and applications.

2. Cybersecurity

With more people working remotely, there is a greater need for cybersecurity. This technology allows people to place the security wall around individuals rather than the entire organization since employees are no longer sat in the same building. It is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. Cybersecurity is a range of policies, services, controls, and technologies and it is fundamental to consider this as your business or organization moves to the Cloud.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, the US FBI reported a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes, and this percentage is increasing. What is most concerning is that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. This includes a lack of prioritization in allocating funding to ensure your workplace is secure.

3. DevOps

DevOps is a term for a group of concepts that have more recently catalyzed into the technical community. The term emerged from the intertwining of two separate trends, it sprang from applying agile and lean approaches to operations work. The Blog ‘The Agile Admin’ provides the definition of “a cross-disciplinary community of practice dedicated to the study of building, evolving and operating rapidly-changing resilient systems at scale.” It represents the efforts to get rid of the constraints between the businesses and their customers. Business leaders are now realizing the benefits of DevOps and the value they bring to their organizations.

Here are the main DevOps practices:  

• Automation of testing

• Automation of risk-management

• Writing changes in code

• Allowing employees to influence the changes

4. Blockchain

The term ‘Blockchain’ is increasingly being talked about, but what exactly is it? You can think of it as a diary that is extremely difficult to forge. Blockchain offers security in the information transaction that is useful in many ways to software, and it supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum. It is a database that is distributed among all nodes; no one or several nodes control the Blockchain. This means that no entity can take control of the data. A blockchain developer specializes in developing and implementing architecture and solutions using blockchain technology. Not being able to change the previous blocks is what makes it so secure.

5. Hybrid Cloud

Covid-19 proved that the organizations that were not already cloud-ready had to work much harder to keep up. The Hybrid Cloud is a solution that combines a private cloud with public cloud services with software enabling communication between each distinct service. This offers greater flexibility for workplaces as workloads can be safely moved between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate.

While this is greatly promising, the organizations need to update the following to use a hybrid cloud:

• Heightened cybersecurity such as confidential computing and quantum-safe encryption

• AI automation

• They need the ability to push more workloads onto intelligent edge devices

More and more businesses will adopt these technologies this year and the market size of global cloud computing is on the rise. The public cloud service market is expected to reach $623.3 billion by 2023 worldwide.

6. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT means that everyday objects are networked with each other via the Internet. Various objects (that we often use every day) are equipped with small chips, sensors, data storage, or software systems and are provided with a digital identity. This digital identity enables data exchange with other objects. Internet of Things has is actively dissolving the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds slowly.

In a report on mobility published by Ericsson in 2020, it is estimated that by 2025 some 24.6 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. There are huge benefits for businesses to make use of IoT for their decision-making and safety conditions because of the data the devices can collect. For example, with more people returning to work, employers can use IoT devices with sensors to collect data on how often employees are washing their hands and measure whether employees are keeping a safe distance from each other.

7. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

We hear a lot about these technologies in the gaming industry, but they have huge potential to provide a deeper experience in multiple other industries from marketing to retail. Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information or images onto the real world. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR) which puts the user in an entirely computer-generated world, separate entirely to the space in which they physically stand, AR uses the real environment around it as a canvas and simply adds to or changes it. Virtual Reality is an immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, which replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world.

A key example of AR is the Ikea app that shows customers what the pieces of furniture will look like in their homes. Maybelline also has an app to help customers purchase the right shade of makeup online; the app shows the customer what the makeup looks like on their skin. This year we will witness mass innovations in the uses of AR and VR to optimize businesses.

8. Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation is a concept that anything that can be automated in an organization should be automated. It blends in with Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation to automate legacy business processes. It intends to prevent redundancies made by business users and closely monitor businesses’ processes to automate them. With a combination of advanced technologies, it allows faster application authorship with automation technologies for intelligent and strategic workflow optimization. AI in hyperautomation brings in improved performance, reliability, and scalability. It also deals with maintenance issues and organizations that use AI can make better-informed decisions, accelerate discovery, and prevent weaknesses.

Each of these software engineering trends has transformative potential and refusing to utilize them could have disastrous consequences for businesses to keep up with this current climate. Each of them solves complex business challenges and accommodates the change and uncertainty we have all experienced over the last year. If you want to discuss these further to see how they can transform your workplace, why not contact us!

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