Cloud Services / Culture / Development

This Week in Programming: Are We Digitally Transformed, Yet?

16 May 2020 6:00am, by

Lately, it’s not just businesses that have been “digitally transformed” but happy hours, dance parties, concerts, classes, in-person meetings, family get-togethers and more. In one giant sweeping wave, much of life came to a halt and went online. According to AWS Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels during this week’s AWS Summit keynote, streaming video worldwide has seem more than a 40% increase in the past month, and streaming video data during the last week of March went up to 161 billion minutes, more than double the 70 billion minutes of that same time period last year.

This, Vogels argued, is why we need to get back to fundamentals in building applications that can withstand the scaling demands of a new digitally transformed society.

“I believe that if nothing else, these past few months have truly ushered in a new era in technology, where we are seeing a fundamental shift in how everyone is fueling not only technology itself, but how to access that technology, as well as how we build the technology, and that’s what AWS wants to help you do,” said Vogels of the sudden effects of a society largely told to stay home, work from home, learn from home.

Yes, it was a bit of an hour-long commercial for AWS, but isn’t that what attending a user conference keynote is all about? It also, to be quite honest, felt a bit like preaching to the choir, as you might imagine the majority of “attendees” were already sold on the necessity of scalable cloud infrastructure and the validity of not only remote work, but cloud computing. If you came looking for flashy announcements, you surely left disappointed at having spent yet another hour staring at more of that streaming video that Vogels was boasting about.

That said, he surely has a point, huh? Despite various doom and gloom predictions about COVID-19 breaking the internet, it’s mostly kept on chugging… at least so far. And the keynote offered various examples of companies running on AWS and either operating entire video production pipelines in the cloud or handling massive growth with relative ease to bolster the claims.

Of course, all of that stands in stark contrast to the various online unemployment systems that quickly buckled under the weight of demand, not to mention the various internet-based food delivery services that are limited by real-world constraints and scale, or even the problems faced by companies such as AWS itself, trying to put on web-based summits and running into issues.

Digital transformation, it would seem, is more than just keeping the bits flowing, though that is a key component for sure. Just earlier this year, we were examining the completely failed Nevada Democratic primaries and looking at how moving a system online could overlook the institutional knowledge embedded in the people that comprise that very system. As we keep those bits flowing, and we see examples of applications performing at a scale never before seen, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and declare the future as having arrived — the Band-Aid has arrived, and we’re going to have to wait and see how the wound has healed.

This Week in Programming

  • And Then There’s That Whole Quantum Computing Thing: Meanwhile, another technological powerhouse this week offered a look at yet another future of remote computing. IBM updated us on its recent IBM Quantum Challenge, which saw nearly 2,000 people from 45 countries take part, using a total of more than 1 billion quantum circuits a day. “The extraordinary capacity to support over a billion circuits a day,” IBM writes, “demonstrates that IBM systems can provide what enterprises, governments, universities, and other organizations need today to experiment and get on track to eventually applying quantum computing to their real-world use cases.” In a video (included below and worth the watch), IBM discusses the recently launched Covid-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium, which offers more than 400 petaflops of computing power and could help handle equations that are literally impossible to tackle with classical computing — among them, finding faster solutions for dealing with COVID-19. As far as cloud computing goes, it’s quite the example.

  • Visual Studio Code @ Microsoft Build: We know how much you like your Visual Studio Code, so we thought it important to highlight the blog post laying out all the ways you can learn about Visual Studio Code at Build 2020, which is going online and completely free next week. There will be demos of new features, such as settings synchronization, live-streamed session, and on-demand videos, so check out the post for a sampling of VS Code sessions.
  • TypeScript 3.9 Arrives: It looks like your favorite strict syntactical superset of JavaScript has made its way through beta and is now available with the release of TypeScript 3.9, which JAXEnter says speeds up the compiler and fixes regressions. “If regressions that appeared in recent TypeScript versions have been keeping you from upgrading, you will be glad to hear that these issues have now been fixed. Other changes in version 3.9 include performance and editor upgrades,” they write in summary of the new features offered in TypeScript 3.9. To read about all the additions, bug fixes, and whatnot, check out the release notes.

  • A Look at Python in 2019: JetBrains and the Python Software Foundation have released the results of their 2019 Python Developers Survey, which gathered answers from 24,000 Python developers from more than 150 different countries, finding, among other things, that 84% of respondents use Python as their main language. And while Python 2 has officially ceased maintenance, 10% of respondents still actively use it, although Python 3.7 is the most popular version of the language. As for what developers are using Python for, 59% say data science, 51% say web development, and 40% for machine learning. Speaking of Python and machine learning, TensorFlow 2.2 is out this week, and among its changes is the discarding of support for Python 2.
  • On Rebuilding Stacks: Facebook has launched yet another redesign, and along with the redesign the engineering team has penned a blog post about rebuilding their tech stack, taking the reader along for the ride from the site’s humble beginnings in 2004 as a “simple, server-rendered PHP website” to the experience of “rearchitecting, using React (a declarative JavaScript library for building user interfaces) and Relay (a GraphQL client for React).” Perhaps not coincidentally, we also saw a MadLibs style blog post cross our feeds this week about Why we at $FAMOUS_COMPANY Switched to $HYPED_TECHNOLOGY, which offers some gems you’ve likely read time and time again in engineering blog posts such as this. “As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the $FAMOUS_COMPANY backend has historically been developed in $UNREMARKABLE_LANGUAGE and architected on top of $PRACTICAL_OPEN_SOURCE_FRAMEWORK. To suit our unique needs, we designed and open-sourced $AN_ENGINEER_TOOK_A_MYTHOLOGY_CLASS, a highly-available, just-in-time compiler for $UNREMARKABLE_LANGUAGE.”

Amazon Web Services is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image: AWS CTO Werner Vogels

A newsletter digest of the week’s most important stories & analyses.