An anonymous reader shares an article titled “Does IT Run on Java 8?”
“After more than ten years in tech, in a range of different environments, from Fortune 500 companies, to startups, I’ve finally come to realize that most businesss and developers simply don’t revolve around whatever’s trending on Hacker News,” argues one Python/R/Spark data scientist:
Most developers — and companies — are part of what [programmer] Scott Hanselman dubbed a while ago as the 99%… “They don’t read a lot of blogs, they never write blogs, they don’t go to user groups, they don’t tweet or facebook, and you don’t often see them at large conferences. Lots of technologies don’t iterate at this speed, nor should they.
“Embedded developers are still doing their thing in C and C++. Both are deeply mature and well understood languages that don’t require a lot of churn or panic on the social networks. Where are the dark matter developers? Probably getting work done. Maybe using ASP.NET 1.1 at a local municipality or small office. Maybe working at a bottling plant in Mexico in VB6. Perhaps they are writing PHP calendar applications at a large chip manufacturer.”
While some companies are using Spark and Druid and Airflow, some are still using Coldfusion… Or telnet… Or Microsoft TFS… There are reasons updates are not made. In some cases, it’s a matter of national security (like at NASA). In others, people get used to what they know. In some cases, the old tech is better… In some cases, it’s both a matter of security, AND IT is not a priority. This is the reason many government agencies return data in PDF formats, or in XML… For all of this variety of reasons and more, the majority of companies that are at the pinnacle of succes in America are quietly running Windows Server 2012 behind the scenes.
And, not only are they running Java on Windows 2012, they’re also not doing machine learning, or AI, or any of the sexy buzzwords you hear about. Most business rules are still just that: hardcoded case statements decided by the business, passed down to analysts, and done in Excel sheets, half because of bureacracy and intraction, and sometimes, because you just don’t need machine learning. Finally, the third piece of this is the “dark matter” effect. Most developers are simply not talking about the mundane work they’re doing. Who wants to share their C# code moving fractions of a cent transactions between banking systems when everyone is doing Tensorflow.js?
In a footnote to his essay, Hanselman had added that his examples weren’t hypothetical. “These people and companies all exist, I’ve met them and spoken to them at length.” (And the article includes several tweets from real-world developers, including one which claims Tesla’s infotainment firmware and backend services were all run in a single-location datacenter “on the worst VMware deployment known to man.”)
But the data scientist ultimately asks if our online filter bubbles are exposing us to “tech-forward biases” that are “overenthusiastic about the promises of new technology without talking about tradeoffs,” leading us into over-engineered platforms “that our companies don’t need, and that most other developers that pick up our work can’t relate to, or can even work with…
“For better or worse, the world runs on Excel, Java 8, and Sharepoint, and I think it’s important for us as technology professionals to remember and be empathetic of that.”