Top 8 tech stories of 2012 for IT pros and developers

EducationWhen you look back at 2012, what stands out in your mind? As an IT professional, what are you going to remember the most about the past year? As I think back on 2012, several stories and events really stand out as shaping the year (and possibly beyond) from a business technology perspective.

While there are too many stories to list, I looked back over the past year and pulled out the news, stories, and events that were of significant importance to IT pros and developers in 2012. Feel free to add anything I missed in the comments, but here’s my list of the top IT stories of 2012:

1. Oracle fights with (and loses to) Google

Sure, two big tech companies battling each other in court doesn’t exactly qualify as major news anymore. But, this battle was more than just a squabble between two companies. The implications of this battle could have changed the way we use the web. How so? One of the major arguments in the suit focused on whether or not APIs are copyrightable. As you probably know, APIs are how software communicates with other software…and if they are subject to copyright, web developers could face all sorts of problems. For instance, as highlighted in this article, a ruling in Oracle’s favor would have had a negative approach on web interoperability and innovation. Fortunately for developers, Oracle lost (for now).

2. Windows 8 gets released

Windows 8 was released this year, and while it received mixed reviews, it represents a significant shift in operating system design. With Windows 8, Microsoft created an OS designed to operate on both touch screens and traditional PCs. Why is this so important? Because that’s where development is headed. As mentioned in this video, developers no longer know which device their users will use to access their application. As a result, development must now account for all devices.

3. Tablets/Smartphones overwhelm businesses

Some trends happen slowly, while others take the world by storm. The BYOD trend took the latter approach. According to the research firm Gartner, “The consumerization trend has hit IT as an unstoppable force.” Smartphones and tablets combined to make up 70% of all devices sold in 2012, and that number is expected to rise in 2013. If your IT department hasn’t yet addressed consumerization yet, it should be a top priority.

4. Twitter survives the election thanks to Java

Despite experiencing record traffic on election day, Twitter never faltered. Why is this big news? Twitter was always notoriously unstable. In fact, it failed so often that their “Fail Whale” became a widely recognized icon. So, how did the famously unstable Twitter survive the election night without a problem? They recently switched to Java. A few years back, Twitter realized that they had hit a wall with Ruby on Rails, and began switching over to Java. The result: Despite facing the ultimate stress test on election day, Twitter passed with flying colors.

5. SOPA and PIPA get postponed due to internet backlash

On January 18th, the the English Wikipedia, Reddit, and an estimated 7,000 other smaller websites coordinated a service blackout, to protest the SOPA and PIPA bills. While these bills were designed to fight online piracy, opponents feared that the proposed legislation threatened free speech and innovation while giving the government too much power to censor the web. How would this affect you? If someone claims you are violating their copyright, your site could get blocked. As you might imagine, a law like this has great potential for abuse. Thankfully, as a result of the backlash, the bill was postponed indefinitely.

6. Cloud providers experience outages

Cloud computing hit some rough patches this year, as several major cloud providers, like GoDaddy, Salesforce, and Amazon experienced significant outages. These problems created unexpected downtime for many businesses and caused others to question the reliability of cloud computing. Is the cloud ready for business?

If your company is considering cloud computing, here’s a tip: Build cloud-ready applications. Cloud-ready applications are portable. They can deploy anywhere–both in-house or in the cloud. What does this do for you? Essentially, they give you a “Plan B.” If your cloud host isn’t meeting expectations, they let you seamlessly switch to another host, or just move the apps back in house.

7. HTML5 gets finalized

After years of work, the HTML5 specification is finally complete. While not technically the HTML standard until 2014, developers now have a fixed set of features to implement. What does this mean for developers? HTML5 promises to give us plugin-free browsing, native video and audio support, offline capabilities, and much more.

8. Romney’s “Orca” project fails on election day

In what amounts to a cautionary tale for application developers, Mitt Romney’s “Project Orca” failure cost him thousands of votes. Project Orca was a mobile app designed to track voter statistics in real-time, and deliver that data to volunteers to help draw more voters to the polls. The only problem: The application failed miserably. The reasons include a lack of stress testing, inadequate training, and a general lack of information about the project. What lesson can developers learn from this debacle? Without proper training, software is doomed to fail.

Wrap Up

There you have it: 8 of the most important stories for IT pros and developers from 2012. If you can add anything to that list, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

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