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Developers are no longer just developers. Of course, developers still do many of the things they always have: write and implement new code, maintain and improve legacy software, and generally figure out how to make it all work better and play well with others.
That's not the half of it.
The environment around development is changing dramatically. That changes the developer role dramatically, too. There has been an explosion of technologies at the network edge, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and IoT. These technologies are working their way into everything from smart cars to retail experiences. They're affecting industries as seemingly unrelated as pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.
At the same time, the network core is providing developers with massive compute capabilities that were unheard of not too long ago. That core can power compute-intensive applications such as machine learning and blockchain.
Many of these improved capabilities, and the potential for innovation, have been fed by open source development. Now, we've got major enterprise initiatives built upon a foundation of open source, developed organically from community-driven products and accessible to anyone, anywhere.
The result is a whirlwind of creative growth and, not incidentally, a new developer role. Developers are becoming the leading forces for creative development within organizations and a competitive advantage for businesses that are trying to move into the digital age.
What fuels the new developer role?
There are a number of ways developers can use these building blocks -- intelligent edge, massive compute at the core and open source -- to drive the digital era forward. An intelligent edge gives developers the ability to get sensory information and use it to generate interactions that can occur anywhere, at any time, in a very natural way. Along with the sheer computing power in the core of the network, this unlocks a whole set of new applications for developers to tackle.
Open source is the special sauce that brings it all together. Gone are the days when open source was thought of as cute, but not quite ready for prime time.
The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has done yeoman's work in building a community around and driving open source, cloud-native computing standards. Importantly, CNCF provides corporate users and vendors with forums in which they can make their concerns known. CNCF also helps produce a reliable roadmap for further development. Doubters need only to look at the successful tech unicorns -- Uber, Netflix, Lyft, the list goes on -- that rely on open source to fuel their growth and operations.
Open source is the way out of lock-in
These digital breakthroughs are healthy for the individual enterprise but awesome for the individual developer as well. With open source, enterprises can escape the dreaded cloud lock-in. Even better, developers can escape vendor lock-in. A developer is no longer relegated to being a vendor-specific developer. Instead, they can write what they want or need to write and know that it can run just about anywhere. Think about how this greatly expands an individual's career opportunities -- not just at a particular company or within a particular industry, but in a worldwide community of developers and technologists.
Containers and cloud-native technologies are crucial to this new paradigm. Developers can quickly assemble disparate pieces, work together as a team and bake in automation. This cycle of continuous deployment lets developers deploy, test and iterate upon software much more quickly. Continuous deployment also yields better collaboration, easier assembly and a faster response time to any problems.
Happily, developers don't have to build this environment from the ground up. The cloud provider itself often handles management and operations. This relieves developers of a host of mundane tasks so they can devote their full attention to, well, development.
We're in a golden age for developers
If you still don't think that intelligent edge, power at the core and open source tech are producing a golden age for developers, consider this: The annual DevOps Research and Assessment "State of DevOps Report" consistently finds that those who use open source and DevOps technologies are happier in their jobs and workplace than developers who don't.
That might sound strange, but it makes perfect sense. With open source and DevOps methodologies, developers can work more efficiently. They can automate iterative tasks, build products faster and spend less time fixing bugs that shouldn't be there in the first place. In short, they have a heightened ability to simply get stuff done. And that sounds pretty close to happiness.