You’ve had a chance to explore the Pluralsight Tech Index and see what’s on the rise. We asked a few of our resident experts to break down what it all means — and the overarching industry trends to be aware of.
Trends in Software Development
Languages like Python, C and C++ are on the rise, but the recent rise in machine learning and data analysis work is intersecting with these languages in interesting ways. Python is a popular language in data science for its high-level qualities that enable developers to build applications quickly and efficiently, while C and C++ are seeing increased used in data science applications that require high performance.
An increased focus on application monitoring has companies seeking experience with products like Topshelf, a framework that allows you to create testable, debuggable microservices in Windows without developers having to worry about the details of service classes, and Raygun, a service that gives you improved visibility into your web applications. There’s also an overall trend of companies moving towards more deterministic testing products (like Fitnesse for .NET).
Technology trends have been moving at a fast pace towards rapid development, microservices and cloud native applications. Organizations are looking for more skills revolving around testing and constant monitoring, meaning the trend toward simpler, reliable performing software is moving upward faster than ever.
Jeremy Morgan, DevOps expert and Pluralsight author
Trends in IT Ops
Cross-stack administration is what’s hot in the market right now, and the Tech Index is a good checklist of what constitutes a cross-stack admin. Even if your current job doesn’t use one or two of the technologies listed, these are the things the industry in general is demanding, and they’re the ones IT professionals should be focusing on for their careers.
Getting granular, macOS is trending up because more and more companies are permitting it to be a client operating system (instead of just Windows). PowerShell and Bash, the “automation languages” for Windows and Linux, respectively, are trending up like they have for over a decade. This is likely because they’re tricky to use, so they generate a lot of Q&A traffic on the net.
If tech leaders should take anything away from the Index, it’s that they should rapidly and efficiently be shifting their teams’ skill base to support the technologies that best serve the business — not the other way around. Choose the tools and technologies that best solve the problem based on fit, not popularity, then lead and guide your teams’ skills to where they need to be.
The Index ultimately shows what everyone else is doing, and provides a great baseline for the tech that IT professionals and tech leaders should have (at minimum) a working knowledge of, but don’t rest on your laurels. A technology not on the Index could be just as — if not more — valuable for an IT org than one near the top of it; it’s all about what the best fit is for your business.
Don Jones, IT expert and Pluralsight author
Trends in Data
In general, we’re seeing that machine-learning-assisted analyses — or what is often referred to as "augmented analytics" — are more important and valuable than ever. The tools that provide these kinds of insights are empowering analysts to be "citizen data scientists,” which is extending organizations' ability to derive substantial value from its data assets.
As the importance of data science spreads ubiquitously across all industries, R is a consistently popular language and tool due to a vibrant open source community that relatively easily enables practitioners to utilize prepackaged analyses such as classification, clustering, time-series and data modeling. Other notable upticks include Looker, which does an excellent job balancing speed to insights with dependable accuracy enriched by a semantic layer and metadata, and TensorFlow, which is likely that we'll see even greater popularity soon given the momentous changes it recently deployed in version 2.0.
SPSS’ downtick may be indicative of a growing trend in providing business users and consumers with "explainable" algorithms. While its presence on the Index indicates its historical relevance as a popular tool in the statistical analysis space, “black box" models are becoming less acceptable in a business context.
Finally, keep an eye on the growth of Tableau, PowerBI and D3, as their presence on the Index indicates a growing recognition of the importance of visual storytelling. All of these tools provide aesthetically pleasing visualization capabilities that are easily accessible and extensible within a "big data" context.
Bill Saltmarsh, Data insights and analytics expert
Trends in Security
The cybersecurity industry is on fire with the change, but Offensive Security's Kali Linux distribution remains as functional, familiar and comfortable as an old pair of jeans. The low cost of entry — combined with plug-and-play usability for enterprise pen-testing operations and exclusive use in the practical application of its creator’s OSCP certification — continue to mark Kali as the go-to set of tools for seasoned pen-testers and budding security practitioners alike.
The rapidly growing workforce's struggle to develop quality skills (exacerbated by the rate of change in the security landscape and DevOps technology) fuels the sustained growth of the entry-level and non-technical security certifications like Security+, CEH, CISA and CISSP. As entry-level talent develops, internally growing depth in advanced security skills is the preeminent challenge to be met by organizations moving forward, in order to evolve beyond being “a mile wide and an inch deep” security-wise.
High-profile problems in web application security have multiplied with more complex cloud and hybrid implementations; JSON web tokens and OpenSSL stand out individually because their nearly ubiquitous adoption generates an astonishingly large threat surface. The complexity of the skills and applications required to masterfully secure multi-platform and hybrid solutions has security leaders looking for unified solutions. Cloudflare has grown in market dominance by providing aggregated and simplified solutions to current application security issues with secure DNS, certification management, DDOS mitigation and a world-class web application firewall.
Lastly, the growing popularity of open-source tools like ScoutSuite point to a clear affinity for commodity threats in cloud service exploitation on one side, and support for the current industry focus on cloud security on the other. Be on the lookout for what tools will answer these cloud-based threats, and how to integrate them into security operations workflow as adversary capabilities grow.
Aaron Rosenmund, Cybersecurity expert and Pluralsight author