News from the World of Software Development – June 2018

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Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly news digest where we analyze a few of the most interesting recent stories from the software engineering world. If you are interested in last month’s digest, by all means click on the following link. Hopefully, the month’s version provides some food for thought to assist you and your team with your development work!

IBM making Blockchain Development easier for Software Engineers

Blockchain and similar peer-to-peer ledgers continue to make an impact within the technology industry. In fact, software engineers experienced with blockchain development remain highly in demand all over the world, something we previously noted. Unfortunately, the lack of the proper tools for these kinds of applications – let alone finding enough skilled developers – makes programming projects in the space a difficult process.

Here comes IBM to the rescue. Big Blue recently announced the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan, providing developers and businesses the means to bootstrap their efforts in this area of software engineering. News about the new IBM product appeared this week in SD Times.

IBM is a strong supporter of blockchain. In fact, the company introduced IBM Blockchain Starter Services, Blockchain Acceleration Services and Blockchain Innovation Services earlier this year. Big Blue’s VP of blockchain technology, Jerry Cuomo commented on the new platform starter plan.

“What do you get when you offer easy access to an enterprise blockchain test environment for three months? More than 2,000 developers and tens of thousands of transaction blocks, all sprinting toward production readiness,” said Cuomo.

The new platform leverages the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework built by IBM with Digital Asset. Organizations using the platform receive $500 in credit for their own blockchain network. Their developers enjoy a test environment, a suite of educational tools, code samples hosted on GitHub, in addition to network provisioning.

“And while Starter Plan was originally intended as an entry point for developers to test and deploy their first blockchain applications, users also now include larger enterprises creating full applications powered by dozens of smart contracts, eliminating many of the repetitive legacy processes that have traditionally slowed or prevented business success,” added Cuomo.

MongoDB 4.0 embraces the Cloud

One of the most popular NoSQL databases, MongoDB recently introduced its latest version, 4.0, with a host of new features aimed at Cloud deployment. We previously talked about MongoDB when we wrote about the MEAN stack, which uses the database. Coverage of version 4.0 of the database appeared this week in ZDNet.

MongoDB leverages a document model, which allows it to support key-value, graph, and text-based database structures. 4.0’s most relevant new features improve its transaction processing capabilities – notably support for ACID transactions – as well as making it easier to build Cloud-based applications. ACID support is facilitated by a new replication model using stronger consistency combined with fast failover.

The 4.0 feature supporting the Cloud is known as MongoDB Stitch. Stitch is a Cloud-based serverless environment hosted on MongoDB’s Atlas Cloud environment. Significantly, it supports stateful applications. There are currently 23,000 apps hosted on Atlas, with nearly 500 more being added each day.

Version 4.0 also includes support for mobile devices with an embedded version of MongoDB. If your team is using the MEAN stack or curious about it, take the time to learn more about this popular NoSQL database. 

Thanks for checking out the edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world!   

Most Tech Organizations only Partially Embrace DevOps – if at all

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While DevOps transitioned from a buzzword to an essential part of operations at many technology companies, a majority of shops only partially adopt the practice if at all. This is one of the most interesting findings of a study of IT professionals published this month in BetaNews. Still many firms are seeing benefits and improved efficiency because of merging their software engineering and network operations functions.

Let’s dive into the details of this industry survey to see what organizations are doing in lieu of a full DevOps implementation. Are they still able to see achieve a better process by only going part of the way? The answers provide some food for thought for your own company’s development efforts.

Many IT Companies aren’t sold on DevOps

2nd Watch, a Cloud-based managed service operator, surveyed over 1,000 IT professionals on their organization’s use (or non-use) of DevOps. Most tellingly, nearly 80 percent of the surveyed companies still maintain separate software engineering and operations teams. Still, a number of those organizations use some of the tools commonly associated with DevOps, including CI/CD, automation, and Cloud-based infrastructure ops software.

Nearly two-thirds of the tech orgs in the survey use “infrastructure as code” approaches to improve the efficiency of their operations. Some of the biggest applications in this area are Terraform, Configuration Management, and Kubernetes. 2nd Watch noted that almost 40 percent of the surveyed companies still manage network operations manually.

2nd Watch also commented that the manual process of network management remains incompatible with a DevOps approach. However, the process of teamwork and strong interaction are essential. “In order to transform a business into a DevOps organization, companies should work towards bringing separate operating groups together as a single team,” commented Jeff Aden, 2nd Watch’s executive vice-president of marketing and business development.

A Shocking Lack of Software Quality Assurance

Another quite surprising survey finding relates to the software QA approach at these companies. Nearly 25 percent of the surveyed firms employ little to no quality assurance process. While some code testing happens, it appears to be a disorganized practice at some of these companies.

The numbers look better when it comes to the use of automation in the SDLC. 70 percent of the surveyed companies leverage an automated process for some portion of code management and deployment. On the other hand, around 20 percent of the companies use no form of application monitoring; instead they rely on end-user notification. Thankfully, the rest prefer a more modern approach.

Aden summarized how his company’s survey reveals the piecemeal approach many companies take towards DevOps adoption. “The results reveal the 80/20 rule, where slightly more than 20 percent of respondents are actually engaging in DevOps in its purest form today. There is still a tremendous opportunity for companies to modernize their organizations to accelerate development and remain competitive in the marketplace,” said Aden.

Ultimately, it’s still a positive if organizations are able to gain some benefits by the use of automated DevOps tools without merging their development and network operations. Companies need to take the approach that works best for them. Still, shops that eschew organized testing and application monitoring aren’t likely to stay in business for long.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world.

An Overview of the New MySQL 8.0

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MySQL remains a valid database option for companies looking for an alternative to Oracle or SQL Server. While it may not offer the enterprise-level horsepower of PostgreSQL, it still works well for many scenarios. This is likely why it maintains its status as the most popular open source database in the industry.

Recently, the folks behind MySQL released version 8.0 of the database. New features and functionality abound. Let’s take a high level overview of this new edition to see if there’s anything to help with your own software development projects.

The New Features in MySQL 8.0

The new version of MySQL added a whole host of enhanced SQL functionality. This includes support for window functions, common table expressions, as well as the NOWAIT and SKIP LOCKED statements. Most notably, window functions provide the ability to perform analytics on stored data; this is long-awaited feature as SQL Server added it in 2003.

They also added support for descending indexes which provides a performance improvement, especially when working with large datasets. The new GROUPING() function lets developers build datasets that distinguish super-aggregate rows from the results of GROUP BY queries. Both of these features were highly requested among the MySQL user community.

Boosting overall application performance becomes essential when using MySQL. Version 8.0 gives developers a new syntax for including optimizer hints. You simply place them using something similar to inline comment blocks after a SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, REPLACE, or DELETE statement.

Additionally, the new version adds optimizer hints for a variety of INDEX and JOIN statements.  Now developers can control index merge behavior for each individual query or even the table order when performing a join. The MySQL development team feels the new optimizer hint syntax makes it easier to use while also boosting code readability.

MySQL adds Improved JSON Support

The JSON format is essential for web applications that rely on transferring objects expressed as a data structure. MySQL 8.0 improves its support for JSON in a myriad of ways. First, it adds extended syntax for ranges when using JSON path expressions.

The new JSON table functions lets you use regular SQL statements when working with JSON data. This is a boon for developers especially skilled in writing SQL queries. It essentially creates a relational view of JSON data.

Other new JSON features in MySQL 8.0 include aggregation and merge functions. A boost in sorting performance and the ability to perform partial updates are also welcome. The former helps to optimize large applications while the latter makes replication processes faster.

Other New MySQL 8.0 Features

Another significant new feature in MySQL 8.0 is support for GIS, including the Spatial Reference System. This lets applications using the database to easily calculate global distances given a LAT and LONG. The database now supports bitwise operations on binary data types, making the processing of IPV6 addresses easier.

The MySQL query optimizer also gets some improvements beyond the new hint syntax. Histograms and better handing of data buffering help engineers boost overall app and database performance. Finally, the database boasts improved reliability, availability, and reporting with an eye towards being used at companies following DevOps.

In short, MySQL 8.0 adds a host of new features making the database more attractive to organizations with high-demand applications. The improved DevOps support is also welcome. For more detailed information on MySQL 8.0, simply click on this link.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep returning for additional insights on the software development world.