Monday, December 19, 2016

Software will eat the world

This is the fifth part of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:

https://doc.co/LyrxvF/qcihGm

and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following

Major Trends

Macro Trends

image

If you consider all the trends in the changing IT environment the next questions that results is ‘Where should I invest for the future?’. Luckily, the answer to that is pretty simple. Software.

Marc Andreessen wrote an article back in 2009 entitled:

Why Software Is Easting the World

that I encourage everyone to read. In essence, it is saying the the IT world of the future is all about software. Every business, whether they are in IT or not will effectively become a software company given the amount of data it needs to analyse. Software provides automation, reducing costs. Software provides efficiency and a competitive edge, etc., etc..

Some other articles that echo this are:

Hardware is sexy, but it’s software that matters

from Seth Godin

Software is still eating the world

from Techcrunch

How robots, drones and artificial intelligence will change everything

from the Financial Post.

Those who only have on premises IT skill sets are fast being left behind by those who have embraced the world of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) thanks to Azure, AWS and the like. However, the journey does not cease there. It will continue from IaaS to Platform as a Service (PaaS) and to Software as a Service (SaaS).

The reasons for retaining a complex system such as an email server on premises are pretty minute these days in the face of the pricing of global services like Office 365 Exchange Online. It makes more sense for the creator of something like Exchange to set it up, manage and maintain the system then sell it as a demand based service per user per month. Global corporations like Microsoft can get economies of scale that no one else really can, effectively making many computing services simply a utility much like electricity.

That trend means there is less need for Exchange engineers and technicians on premises. What happens to these people? Simple. If they don’t skill up they are going to struggle big time.

IT Professionals increasing face an environment that is all about DevOps. That is the intersection between being a developer and managing operations of computing resources. However, the key skill for that role is clear. It is software and more so coding. If you can’t code to some extent going forward you are not going to have a skill set sought by employers or businesses.

The classic example I see in the Microsoft eco-system is the lack of skills IT Professionals have with basic tools such as PowerShell. You should be using PowerShell to manage your on premises networks TODAY. You should be using PowerShell to manage Office 365 TODAY. You should be using PowerShell to manage Azure TODAY. Write once, run many should be the mantra of today’s IT Professionals but sadly it isn’t. The excuse is normally that ‘I don’t have the time to learn PowerShell’ to which my response is ‘your problem is NOT a time issue, it is a priority issue’.

The world of DevOps doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole day writing code or diving deep into APIs. What is does however mean is that you need to have a balance of skills in the software world, whether that is PowerShell, JSON, Visual Studio, or whatever. Software skills are mandatory for the future of the IT industry because that is the basis on which our future is built on. Software.

Just about every system we interact with today is done via the web. HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc are again key technologies I see few IT Professionals actually possessing or seeking to develop. Even automation tools as simple as If This Then That, Zapier, Microsoft Flow, etc are things most IT Professionals have NEVER seen, let alone used. These tools are the future of the IT Professional and a key skill that must be acquired because they are all the solution of some business problems simply created by connecting available software services together. You don’t need to writing C sharp code to be considered a developer by any means!

The great thing about software is that is all about the creativity of the human mind. That’s why software skills will always be in demand, because it is hard for a ‘machine’ to be artistic. Good software is an art and there is a shortage of good artists because so many have failed to update their skills and embrace the new world of software. Those that have now have a vehicle they could potentially use to develop mobile applications that could be sold to just about everyone on the planet with a mobile device, all without stepping outside their office. You can’t do that with hardware!

The take away here is that our world today and increasingly of tomorrow, is going to be dominated by software. If you can’t do software then you are going to be consigned to an unskilled role that it isn’t even worth a machine doing. There has never therefore been a better time than now to invest in software skills. Learn PowerShell. Learn how to deploy Azure JSON templates via scripts. Go and develop a mobile app using Microsoft PowerApps and Flow for starters. There has never been more opportunity for those who are willing to embrace the tenant that ‘Software is eating the world’ and a greater warning for those who ignore it.