August 18, 2017

Popular wisdom holds that a shortage of developers hamstrings rollouts of new applications. But, as it turns out, organizations that have invested in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments and containers suffer much less in this regard than those that haven’t.

A recent survey conducted by the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) found that organizations that don’t perceive there to be a developer shortage are two times likely to make extensive use of microservices. Much of the reason, suggests the CFF, is that developers are lot keener to employ modern development platforms. Many of the estimated quarter-million job openings for software developers in the United States are for those with skills in legacy programming tools that many developers have moved away from.

The CFF is now moving to make it even simpler for developers to make the transition to a modern PaaS environment by launching a Cloud Foundry Certified Developer program this June. CFF Executive Director Abby Kearns says developers will be able to access resources online to develop new skills at their own pace. To achieve that goal, the Cloud Foundry Foundation plans to make available a free, introductory course on programming in an open-source Cloud Foundry PaaS environment, which can then be extended via an e-learning platform provided by CFF that includes material from vendor members.

Kearns notes it’s apparent that organizations of all sizes are having trouble finding and retaining development talent. But a lot of that shortage may be self-inflicted. Instead of keeping pace with advances in IT, organizations are looking to hire developers who have legacy skills. The problem is that many of the developers who once had those skills have moved on or, in the case of languages such as COBOL, simply retired. In effect, organizations are faced with a conundrum: They can try to maintain and update legacy applications using a dwindling pool of developers or they can modernize them for a larger pool of both existing developers and new ones just entering the workforce.

The good news is that it’s never been easier to modernize legacy applications. Many organizations are starting to package entire legacy applications in a container that then can be hosted just about anywhere, including a PaaS environment. Over time, many of those IT organization then begin to re-engineer those legacy applications by decomposing them into a much smaller set of individual microservices that can be more easily invoked using REST application programming interfaces (APIs). In the case of the Cloud Foundry PaaS, there are two core Garden and Warden container types. The containers, however, also can be used to run Docker images. Kearns says that IT organizations that standardize on the Cloud Foundry PaaS will find it much easier to deploy and run container applications at scale across a multi-cloud computing environment.

Obviously, Cloud Foundry is not the only PaaS option when it comes to containers. But given the support that vendors ranging from IBM and SAP to Cisco Systems and Dell EMC are providing it’s a certainty that the Cloud Foundry will be found inside and outside a public cloud for some time to come.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.