Which trends will shape the world of software development in 2024? No one truly knows, of course, but plenty of people have predictions to offer.
- Growing Pushback Against Microservices and Cloud-Native
- Even More Software Security Problems
- The Developer Shortage Abates
- Blockchain Development Skills Grow Irrelevant
- A Retreat From Outsourced Development
1. Growing Pushback Against Microservices and Cloud-Native
That's not necessarily bad advice. For many use cases, cloud-native apps and microservices do offer better performance, enhanced reliability, and more efficient development cycles.
But I have a suspicion that the cloud-native revolution has already peaked and that more developers are realizing that not every app needs to be refactored to run as microservices. There's no shame in sticking with monoliths and running your apps directly on VMs instead of containerizing them and orchestrating them with Kubernetes.
Don't expect cloud-native architectures to disappear in 2024, but do expect interest in the cloud-native trend to abate at least a bit.
2. Even More Software Security Problems
For years, the trend in software security has been a dismal one. Statistics about the frequency and cost of attacks grow continuously worse, and threat actors pile new modes of attack — such as software supply chain breaches and API attacks — on top of more traditional practices, like ransomware attacks.
I'd like to say that 2024 will be the year when this changes — when developers and security analysts finally turn the tide against threat actors — but there's no reason to believe that will be the case. On the contrary, I expect that the state of software security will grow even more fraught in the coming year.
The reason why is not that businesses fail to recognize the importance of software security or that developers aren't working hard enough to protect their apps. It's that software is only getting more complex, and the more complex apps become, the harder they are to defend.
3. The Developer Shortage Abates
Businesses have long complained that they struggle to hire and retain skilled developers — a trend that appeared to hold at least as of early 2023.
However, given that 2023 became a year of massive layoffs in the tech industry, I suspect that newer data about developer hiring will show that there are no longer drastically fewer qualified developers than there are jobs for them. For the first time in my lifetime, we may enter a period when being a coder is no longer an instant ticket to a high-paying job.
That's not to say that software development has become a bad field to work in. But in 2024, I don't think the developer job market will boom in quite the same way that it has in years past.
4. Blockchain Development Skills Grow Irrelevant
As recently as January 2023, blockchain development skills were reportedly in high demand. Since then, however, the blockchain ecosystem appears finally to have collapsed. Going into 2024, there is less reason than ever to believe that knowing how to build blockchain-based apps will help you land a job.
Will there be a niche need for blockchain developers? Surely. But I wouldn't bet on blockchain being the hottest domain to work in as a developer. Try AI instead — although even there, I'm skeptical about how much demand there will end up being over the long term for coders with specialized AI development skills.
5. A Retreat From Outsourced Development
The idea of replacing in-house development teams with outsourced coders has long been tantalizing from a business perspective. Outsourced development tends to be cheaper (largely because outsourced developers are often also offshore developers who are paid a fraction of what most North American and European programmers make), and it's theoretically more flexible.
My sense, however, is that many businesses that have experimented with outsourced development are realizing that it doesn't always save money (because they have to pay overhead to outsourced developers), it's not always more flexible (because outsourced teams may not be as versatile in what they can do and which technologies they can work with as developers who work in-house), and it may introduce new risks, such as poorer software security practices.
I don't have any hard data to prove it, but I think there's decent reason to believe that 2024 will be the year when outsourced software development loses its luster for many businesses.
The only reliable prediction that anyone can make about software development or anything else is that most predictions will turn out to be more wrong than right. Still, if I were a betting man — and if there were a way to bet on software development trends — I'd place my money on changes like a retreat from cloud-native, declining interest in outsourced development, and fewer developer jobs as key trends for 2024.
About the authorChristopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.