Overview

Skill Level: Any Skill Level

Ingredients

Software companies have been relatively lucky when it comes to COVID-19 and the social distancing restrictions that have been put in place. For many software companies, remote work and cross functional teams are not new concepts. In fact, many software developers have accumulated a lot of experience in this area, by continually experimenting with work methodologies, like agile and DevOps, which operate using flexible and collaborative pipelines. 


Additionally, depending on the product, some software companies are thriving during this time. With much of society at home, workforce, education, news, and entertainment demands have created an increase in the use of many applications. Some of these uses include end user purchasing, like eCommerce, online groceries shopping, and streaming. These end user demands have created more opportunities for B2B software products and markets, like cloud computing, managed infrastructure services, video conferencing, and electronic payments.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the software development industry hasn’t also experienced negative effects. Some companies do not have a market while the rest of the economy is shut down. With work on hiatus for most industries, many organizations are not interested in purchasing new software. Likewise many users are cancelling or pausing software as a service (SaaS) subscriptions until work resumes. 


Another issue is that many tech conferences have been cancelled or transitioned to online formats to meet restrictions. Many in the software industry rely on these conferences to market their products, improve the expertise of their developers, and gauge their competitors. Additionally, many organizations have already paid for conference tickets, materials, travel, and accomodation. These opportunities and costs may now be forfeit.

Step-by-step

  1. How are Software Development Trends Impacted by COVID-19?

    As COVID-19 restrictions continue, many companies have started to adjust their strategies and practices. This is true in terms of the products they are creating and the tools they are using. Below are just a few examples of the trends that are emerging.

    Cross-platform development 

    Cross-platform development has gained popularity as the number and type of devices available has increased. Users prefer applications that they can use across all of their devices. Likewise, companies need software that can work throughout the organization. This is especially true for those with bring your own device (BYOD) policies, where workers may bring a wide range of hardware.

    This type of development has proven beneficial as many workers have been forced to switch devices to work from home. Rather than employees needing to learn new tools or figure out workarounds, cross-platform software enables workloads to transition smoothly. With many companies considering continuing to work remotely indefinitely, developing software that covers all possible environments is a strong growth strategy.

    Low code development

    Low code development platforms are becoming more popular as demands for custom applications and websites increases. Many non-tech companies no longer want to rely on outside developers to create these assets for them. Instead, they want the creative control and lower cost provided by low code or “codeless” development tools. 

    In light of COVID, these platforms can be especially useful. Many companies are downsizing and remaining employees are being required to take on new roles and responsibilities. For example, website management. Low code platforms enable these smaller, less technologically advanced teams to adapt without sacrificing their digital presence. 

    The demand for these platforms isn’t likely to decrease after COVID subsides either. If anything it seems likely that greater demand will exist as companies grow confident in their ability to develop their own sites and applications.

    Accelerated continuous delivery

    Continuous delivery(CD) is already a goal of many software development companies. Many modern users expect frequent updates, instant patching, and the continuous addition of new features. The only way to meet these expectations, and remain competitive, is through the fast turnover offered by CD. 

    Adopting CD practices enables development teams to better meet the changing demands of users. Likewise, the incremental development that supports CD prevents effort from being wasted on unnecessary features. With many users’ situations and needs changing daily due to COVID restrictions, the ability to quickly adapt is a huge benefit to development teams.

    Microservices and managed Kubernetes

    Microservices have enabled development teams to build modular, highly-available, and high-adaptable environments. This has enabled greater flexibility in development practices. It has also enabled teams to develop applications that can quickly scale to meet demands that were previously unheard of.

    The massive increase in demand for some services that came with COVID was largely supported by these services and their scalability. Microservices also enable cross-platform support and CD, supporting other in-demand practices. 

    Despite these benefits, many teams still aren’t prepared to work with or manage microservices. This is partially because of the difficulty of orchestrating the container deployments that microservices require. The most popular container orchestration tool in the market is Kubernetes, which is an open source platform maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). 

    Because Kubernetes is very complex and can be a pain to operate, today’s market has seen an increase in managed Kubernetes services offering a wide range of assistance. This offering is now known as Kubernetes as a Service, and it is offered by the top cloud providers as well as third-party integrated service providers. 

    AWS KaaS offer is called Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Azure’s KaaS is called Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) , and Google’s KaaS is called Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). Each provider offers the KaaS that suits its overall computing strategy. Third party offerings include KaaS for multicloud, as well as KaaS for specific tasks, like managed Kubernetes Prometheus monitoring. There are also players like RedHat OpenShift, which offer a hybrid cloud version of Kuberenetes. 

    Progressive web apps (PWAs)

    PWAs are web apps that function like installable software. These apps can provide users with a smoother user experience. PWAs require less bandwidth and work faster than traditional web apps. These apps enable offline use, which is hugely beneficial for users with limited or unreliable Internet. PWAs are also typically faster to develop than traditional applications since apps are inherently adaptive to a range of devices and platforms. 

    During the current crisis, PWAs can be a huge boon to organizations and development teams. The ability to quickly produce dual-purpose websites / apps that work across multiple platforms means teams can deliver products sooner. When many new companies are forming to take advantage of emerging markets, this fast production is key. Likewise, the ability to produce apps and sites that can reach users despite bandwidth limitations is significant.

  2. So, How has Software Development Been Affected by COVID-19?

    COVID-19 is a global disruptor, instigating swift changes to human life and work. For some businesses, COVID-enforced social distancing has led to unforeseen shutdowns and massive losses. For other businesses, COVID-19 has provided a huge increase in sales and revenue. The tech sector in general, and the software industry in particular, has seen peaks in demand. But, like most industries, even in the software community there are those who have not managed to adapt to this new reality. 

    While it is not yet clear what will be the long term effects of COVID on the software industry, it is clear that in the short term there are certain niches that benefit from this new Coronavirus economy. Perhaps the keyword in finding a strategy that ensures viability during these times, is rooted in the ability to adapt to new circumstances, including adopting a change in work paradigms as needed. Fortunately, many in the software community are already trained in adaptability and can work around many obstacles, including those derived from the COVID crisis.

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