File APIs for Java Developers
Manipulate DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF and many others from your application.
http://aspose.com/file-tools
The moose likes General Computing and the fly likes IT's future Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login


Win a copy of Android Security Essentials Live Lessons this week in the Android forum!
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Engineering » General Computing
Bookmark "IT Watch "IT New topic
Author

IT's future

Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
I figured this will be a good place to talk about the future of application development. The article below from computerworld suggests that App development will disappear! Although I believe the number of app development jobs is going to down due to technical advancement they will not disappear. Still the article makes a good point that a lot of people will have to morph into new roles.
http://www.computerworld.com/managementtopics/mana
gement/story/0,10801,74184,00.html
So, what do you think you can morph yourself as?
-Harpreet Singh


Harpreet Singh<p>SCJP2/SCWCD/IBM Certified Specialist-DB2 7.1/IBM Certified Application Developer-DB2 8.1
Paul Stevens
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
Try this link.
Paul Stevens
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
One IT executive said it's too expensive to develop software in the U.S. "Techno nerd" jobs will outright disappear, particularly ones in programming and application development. But database, network and systems administrators are safe.

Shows how much that exec knows. Why does he feel that database and admins are safe. We managed a system for a client in Chicago with the servers in Texas. All we needed was for someone to put a cd in during an install. The servers would not have had to be in the US nor would my support. Those jobs are not safe from being outsourced.
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
We received a letter last week from a dispirited worker with 15 years of IT experience. He's been laid off, can't find a job and expects to leave the profession. He says the influx of cheap labor that cost him his job is "the beginning of the dismantling of the American technology worker."

If he'd surf the JR jobs discussion forum, he would know he was not leaving. He's being forced out.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15959
    
  19

That's a topic on which I myself have had too much time to meditate upon over the last 18 months as my erstwhile employer of 15 years displayed what loyalty is worth these days.
As far as "all the apps have been written", I'm very skeptical. I was told by one of the founders of the aforementioned place of employment that when they started up they hired 6 programmers and worried what they were going to do with those guys "once all the programs had been written". That about about 1968. Currently the company has about 250 applications programmers and about a dozen systems programmers. However, they're mostly younger and cheaper than me.
The outsourcing thing has me more worried. I don't need to become the next Bill Gates, but when someone can afford to charge 1/3d what I do purely because of geography, that hurts. As for being a long-term solution, I'd advise all those people who see India, China, Russia, etc. as something wonderful to recall that once Japan was a "cheap" country. Success has its price, and while a country as large and populous as India or China may take a while to feel the effects, I've little doubt that the day will come, even though I doubt I personally can survive financially waiting for that to happen.
Actually, it's really ironic. The U.S. let its manufacturing jobs go because it was shifting to become an "Information Society". Now the Information jobs are going too, and so far little has been said.
Some say that's only proper, that it's the "Survival of the Fittest". Strange how they never notice that in Darwin's definition of "survival" and "fit", that bunnies can be cute and furry and butterflies can be beautiful and delicate, but in THEIR usage of the word, the butterflies should properly spit acid and have razor-edged wings and the bunnies should be armour-plated with eviscerating claws. But I digress.
Of greater concern is that most of the IT industry jobs are middle-class with occasional pathways to upper-class. Latin America is a whole notebook full of examples of the cost in terms of overall prosperity and stability when there is no middle class and no real hope of class mobility. I don't think that that's a path that "expensive" countries like the U.S. or U.K. would care to pursue.
The big question, of course, is "just how bad is it?". The Y2k and Internet bubbles kept the employment rate up when it might have otherwise held back, and likewise the current recession is holding back demand that we would otherwise see. Time will tell.
As for me, it seems like the choices at the moment would be to be to emigrate and get paid $25K to do what I like to to (software design) or to stay and get paid $25K to smile at the people shopping at Wal-Mart. Neither choice really appeals.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
Tim,
I think some of the jobs will go to cheaper places and that is a fact of life. But I don't think all the jobs will move overseas. Just like the auto industry a large part of manufacturing will be in Asia but some plants will remain in US. The question that application developers need to ask themselves is what skills would they need to have to fill the jobs in IT factories in US?
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15959
    
  19

Originally posted by Harpreet Singh:
Tim,
I think some of the jobs will go to cheaper places and that is a fact of life. But I don't think all the jobs will move overseas. Just like the auto industry a large part of manufacturing will be in Asia but some plants will remain in US. The question that application developers need to ask themselves is what skills would they need to have to fill the jobs in IT factories in US?

Believe me, I've been considering that VERY seriously. You can only draw imprecise parallels with the auto industry, though. What goes into an auto comes from all over the world. Parts that require a lot of manual labor - especially unskilled manual labor - come from countries will a low cost of living (and, alas, often with low standards for protection of the workers and the environment). If a part requires highly skilled labor or the bulk of the job can be automated, more expensive countries get the contract, since the savings on labour is less and the availability of the trained technicians to maintain automata is greater. Another factor is transportation costs. It's usually going to be more cost effective to ship a small number of assemblies around than a lot of disassembled parts, so as the modules become more and more complete, they also tend to move closer and closer to the final factories.
But there's a kicker here. There are powerful forces at work that ensure that regardless of other economics, the final product will be produced in the U.S. or Canada. Both management and labor have the ears of the legislators, and that never hurts.
Then there's the patriotism factor. The automobile is the ultimate icon of the U.S.A. Some day it will one day be its grave marker as well, but regardless, while owning a "foreign" vehicle won't cause one to be become ostracised, owning a U.S.-"made" car does earn extra points. While labor does make up a lot of the cost of a vehicle, there's enough other in the mix that somehow all the internationally-preferred brands come from expensive countries.
At the moment, however, all employers see is that quality software can come equally easily from Boston or Bangalore. Thanks to the Internet, both locations are equidistant to the J2EE specs at java.sun.com, and the cost is shipping the end result is the same. The only differences come into play when you need on-site support and service, and personally, I've always written my code so I could tell people what how to fix it over the telephone, since I really hate driving into work at 2:00 a.m.
There are some cases where the differences matter. Many smaller companies may find the overhead of dealing internationally to not be worth the hassle - obviously no problem for Microsoft or Oracle. Some just prefer dealing with someone they can see everyday. Systems that get a lot of tweaking are less likely to be worth outsourcing. But a lot of the things that I consider "fun" - which is to say big complex systems - are the ones that have the most of gain from offshore outsourcing - they require lots of highly-trained talent, and thus the greatest cost savings.
Not because offshore programmers are "worth" less, but simply because my house payments are 3 times what they would be for the equivalent dwelling in Mumbai. American food prices are, I think, a bargain, and a Lexus or a 72-inch TV set are going to cost pretty much the same the world over (if one has an appetite for such things), but shelter is one thing that I can't do much about. It's cheaper to get wood and stone from Alabama than from Madras, but the carpenters, plumbers and masons get paid U.S. wages, and the land isn't cheap either. My house is about median price for this country, but the mortgage amounts to about 100% of what I've seen advertised as the typical salary for a 2-year Java programmer in India. Just for housing. No food, no clothing, no transportation, not even water, heat, electricity or communications. Or even upkeep. THAT's what hurts.
It's quite likely that some niches will develop over time, and I'm not going to blame all my problems on offshore outsourcing. I might be able to leverage past experience in hardware, since that's something that even the Internet can't render geography-independent, though I shudder to think what would happen if everyone else around me did likewise.
A far bigger problem appears to be that IT development in the U.S. has apparently ground to a halt - even powerhouses like EDS and Oracle are feeling the crunch. Until that goes away, the question of who works cheaper is academic.
Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
Tim,
I agree that the way EDS is getting hit there is very little hope for IT to pick up in near future. That having been said the onus is on the developers to figure our survival tactics. I agree it is going to be very hard to compete with third world cost, the only way to survive would be to show quality/productivity. Would business care more for it than cost? may be, may be not
Although the comparison between IT and Auto industry is really vague I think we can derive some lessons out of it. I think in times to come software units will move towards India, China etc. Those wanting to stay geographically in North America might choose canada or some cheap place in midwest or south.
I am still not sure what kind of skills are the survival tactics as far as developers are concerned.
Sean Webster
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 24, 2002
Posts: 21
Wouldn�t a more appropriate industry to compare IT with be the entertainment industry? More specifically TV. From all aspects including hardware of TVs, cable TV, network TV, TV film equipment etc? I don�t know enough about the TV industry, but I just sense that this would be an interesting industry to study for comparison purposes.
Anyone have any thoughts?
Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
I am not so sure if TV industry can serve as a good comparison. It’s not an engineering industry. A small part of it (TV set and broadcasting) are engineering the rest is really artistic creation. Software engineering is better compared to auto/civil engineering. Like the auto industry of 30's software industry is going through a maturing and consolidation process. The parts are getting standardized very rapidly. The tag parsing code that each one of us used to write a few years ago has turned into JSP. Pooling, transaction management etc. has been rolled into appservers. As the software consolidates developer skills are also rapidly consolidating. Having a database programmer and a Java programmer was acceptable a few years ago but not anymore.
A major difference between auto and software is that in auto there is only so much that could have been done but with software the opportunities to make business and business of life i.e. biotech, are endless. Another significant difference between auto and software engineering is that software products are not really held as accountable i.e. a much higher failure rate is acceptable. This I believe also fuels innovation. Standards such as CMM and ISO may provide the much needed assurance for critical (aeronautics/medical etc) software but trying to bring standards into companies like Oracle, Sun and Microsoft will kill ideas completely. Rightly so, these companies have maintained their distance from standards.
More to follow....
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I am not so sure if TV industry can serve as a good comparison. It�s not an engineering industry. A small part of it (TV set and broadcasting) are engineering the rest is really artistic creation. Software engineering is better compared to auto/civil engineering.
I have to disagree. To me the software industry is much more like the TV industry. A software product is a lot like a TV show :- it takes a team of skilled people to make it, but once it is made it might be sold many times while the makers move on to somthing else. Likewise some TV programs are made for a particular local audience, and some are more general-purpose, and designed for resale in different markets.
Although working in TV is theoretically a creative occupation, most people actually do fairly straight forward work - researcher, set builder, cameraman, sound editor and so on. Just look at the credits of the next movie you watch, and tell me how many of the people listed are "artists". And then think about how many of them might have to lose or change their jobs as technology moves toward digital video editing and computer-generated sets.


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
Sean Webster
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 24, 2002
Posts: 21
Very very good points
I am not sure if I understood this correctly, but didn�t Warren Buffet use the example of the auto industry in the twenties being a terrible financial investment, but that the auto industry created many ancillary industries that were great investments.
I think the mainstream technology centric opportunities are maturing, but new opportunities are spawning in the recovery of what I call the �big factor of 5�:
1 - y2k hangover
2 - Telecom bubble
3 - Dot Com Bubble
4 - Terrorism
5 � Recession
Another wave will come along and the key will be to be lucky enough to be in the right niches to benefit from those opportunities.
What do you folks think?
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15959
    
  19

Originally posted by Harpreet Singh:
Tim,
I agree that the way EDS is getting hit there is very little hope for IT to pick up in near future. That having been said the onus is on the developers to figure our survival tactics. I agree it is going to be very hard to compete with third world cost, the only way to survive would be to show quality/productivity. Would business care more for it than cost? may be, may be not

Would that I could compete on quality and/or productivity! Much of the original boost for outsourcing to India, China and the former USSR came about because they were not only cheaper, but had probably stronger-than-average credentials because they had good academic traditions.
Of course deducing from indirect evidence and observed human behaviour, I suspect that already there are mills set up to ram bodies through a 2-weeks-to-SJCP course followed by job, but alas, quality DOESN'T get a very high rating much of the time. Otherwise when I call for phone support, I wouldn't be made to wait a half hour only to talk to someone who's more often than not arrogant, ignorant, and/or unintelligible (and I'm talking LOCAL service centers, here, BTW). I really do treasure the times where I get a good answer, get it quick, and don't hang up wondering if I understood what the person was saying.

Although the comparison between IT and Auto industry is really vague I think we can derive some lessons out of it. I think in times to come software units will move towards India, China etc. Those wanting to stay geographically in North America might choose canada or some cheap place in midwest or south.

Scratch the South. I'm there already. It's not helping, and this is one of the cheaper cities.

I am still not sure what kind of skills are the survival tactics as far as developers are concerned.
Me neither. I developed a tool that helps me blast out J2EE code at frightening speed, but I'm not gaining a competitive advantage - it's open source and should see publication in a few months. Guess I'm just not a good capitalist. :roll:

[ September 24, 2002: Message edited by: Tim Holloway ]
Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
Frank,
Coincidentally TV shows are also called Software.
I think you present a very strong comparison but I view it differently. There is a lot of technology involved in producing a TV show but technology is a supporting function, not the main function of the industry. Its like an IT department in a finance/healthcare/auto company. Does technology play a significant role in TV industry? Yes, but that still doesn't make it an engineering industry. To sum it up, it is a creative industry that uses technology. The difference is in the relationship. To put it in OO terms
Software "is an" engineering industry
Auto "is an" engineering industry
TV "uses" engineering industry.
All right, how do I draw the UML diagram on Javaranch
------------------------------------------------------------------
Sean,
I think what we are really seeing is lowering of the technology inventory. A lot of technology (hardware, storage and software) has been produced recently and has not been consumed by other industry sectors. Consuming technology means productivity goes up and they need less people with same skills. So it is a double whammy for tech workers. IT companies have no money to hire employees and non-IT companies need fewer people due to productivity gains As industry sectors realize profits from IT investments made recently they will start investing again for the next round. At least that's what I am hoping

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Tim,
I am not sure about south but I know a lot of software companies have shops in Texas because of lower cost of living (compared to west coast). I personally know a southerner that has moved to Texas
Would you mind sharing what your software is about? Can you share your experience i.e. motivation, time-spent, skill gained, marketability gain, working for open source?
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
Harpreet Singh wrote: To put it in OO terms: Software "is an" engineering industry
I'm interested in this claim. I'm not sure if I believe it myself. To me software seems much more like a craft or an art than an engineering discipline. There is no mass-production, there are no objective measurements.
Ignoring for the moment the technology used (which is getting closer all the time - I use the same PC for writing software and video production, for example), can you highlight for me any important differences you see in the way a TV show or movie is designed, produced, tested, marketed and distributed compared with a software product?
Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
Frank,
I think it is really a question of how you look at it.
I believe software is an engineering industry still in its infancy. There is some amount of mass production (desktop software, databases, OS, app servers, firewalls ... there is off the shelf software for anything you can think of) for both business and consumer. Some components just work off the shelf and some need to be put together. Depending on the complexity of the need there may be a lot of patchwork (read coding) to deliver the system. In this sense software is somewhat like civil industry (in its infancy). The basic rules of building are defined but every house is being custom-made right now. Very soon we will be building massive office buildings. This also brings in the creative part of it. Every custom made house has some amount of creativity to it.
How is software production different from producing TV software? Not very different. Operationally these are very similar industries but the goals are different. The difference is really theoretical. Engineering is supposed to make life easier and more efficient. Entertainment is supposed to make life more fun.
PS: It is always great discussing things with you!
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
There is some amount of mass production (desktop software, databases, OS, app servers, firewalls ... there is off the shelf software for anything you can think of) for both business and consumer.
I guess this is the heart of where we disagree. For me, mass production is all about streamlining the production process so that the same thing can be made over and over again. Software development has none of this. Even for the examples you cite, there is no repeated production of the software items, and no production process which needs streamlining. There's just copying and distribution, muchmore like the TV model.
Saying there are lots of databases is like saying there are lots of sitcoms. Each new version of the database and each new episode of the show are individually crafted for public release.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15959
    
  19


Tim,
I am not sure about south but I know a lot of software companies have shops in Texas because of lower cost of living (compared to west coast). I personally know a southerner that has moved to Texas
Would you mind sharing what your software is about? Can you share your experience i.e. motivation, time-spent, skill gained, marketability gain, working for open source?

OK, I live in Florida, which despite being a tourist trap has a pretty low cost of living overall. Most of what applies to Texas would hold true here too, though Florida has not been fortunate(?) enough to become home to high-tech companies like EDS or Dell. Surprisingly neither the high-tech areas of the Space Coast nor the large metro area of South Florida have been all that big as job markets. Anyway, we've always been popular as a place where people from up North could move to "get a raise" while keeping the same dollar income.
Problem is, the differential between us and, say, New York is maybe 10-20%, which is attractive, but not so much that companies want to move - or even outsource - down here just on account of labor costs. However, when they can save 60-75% on labor moving offshore, it's Christmastime. So while I can bid low enough to discomfit people in the Northest and West, there are places in the world that are so much MORE inexpensive to live that we all get blown clear out of the bidding entirely.
That's the only thing I don't like. I think it's great that less affluent countries can do software. It's a non-polluting, low-resource-consumption business and one I find fun and I'm willing to share. I just don't want to be cut out of the pie entirely.
However, since you wanted personal info, here goes:
My claim to fame these days is a tool I call the EJBWizard (http://www.mousetech.com/EJBWizard.html). It was originally designed because I started working with the objectweb.org JOnAS EJB system and their code generator was/is a minimalist text-based process. Since clerical-style work - meticulously running through items step by step without taking shortcuts - is what I'm absolutely WORST at, I decided to improve on matters and built a Swing-based app.
Shortly thereafter I got involved designing/building a WebLogic-based system that used EJBs, JSPs and other magic to drive an adaptation of a legacy app that I'd converted into a server, so I made a new set of code templates for WebLogic. Once my employer of 13+ years tossed me out on the street, I took the time to clean some things up - for one thing, in addition to generating the EJB basecode, it also generated some really ugly (as in ARGH! It's got business logic in it!) JSPs to work with the EJBs. A number of the European users of of the EJBWizard are JBoss people, so I've tried to keep support up for them, too.
Also, since this city has been swinging more and towards WebSphere, I declared all bets off and made the EJBWizard completely platform-neutral. The past year or so has seen additional changes that make it easy to add custom tabs to the basic UI, add user-defined macro functions, and do various other things that make it fearsomely powerful. It even has the ability to be plugged in as an IDE extension to systems such as IBM's Eclipse project.
Motivation? Well, the Holy Grail has been to be able to generate large chunks of webapp that can be made into production code with minimal modification, and I'm quite please at the latest edition's ability to do that. Also, it gives me a "real-world" task to hone my skills while waiting for the job situation to turn around. It also has ensured that rather than boredom, I have carpal tunnel syndrome .
It's been a pretty good way to practice all the ins and outs of Java, since it's a Swing-based app, but it has to generate functional J2EE code, and the plugin features have given me a good workout in dynamic classloading and introspection.
As for marketability gains: microscopic to none . And that's even AFTER gaining the cover on a national Java publication last Spring. Apparently I'm overqualified for the jobs they want to pay $35K for and the ones that require my level of experience and talent come with a "must-have" list of 19 prerequisites of which I typically can count 17 or 18, but that isn't enough to even get a form email back mosttimes.
One of the more demoralizing things about this recession compared to the last one I had to sit out was that back then, I could call headhunters every week or so and we'd all have a good cry. Now the headhunters won't talk to me either. Those that are still in business, that is.
[ September 27, 2002: Message edited by: Tim Holloway ]
[ September 27, 2002: Message edited by: Tim Holloway ]
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: IT's future
 
Similar Threads
Technologies that are dying
New Google chromebook
SDLC
Chinese IT
This job is driving me insane!