How Can Developers Stay Up To Date?

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How Can Developers Stay Up To Date?

Concentrate on both the hard skills and soft skills — you'll need both as IT evolves and collaboration becomes a prerequisite for success.

· Agile Zone ·
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Thanks to Tom Abbott, Director, Developer Platform Product Management at Okta for taking time to speak to me as Oktane18 was winding down.

What do developers need to think about as IT continues to evolve at an incredible pace?

Concentrate on both the soft skills and the hard skills — you'll need both as the evolution continues. As with any discipline that requires a level of excellence, you must go beyond what you’ve learned in school. That's especially true in IT given that so much has changed since you were in school. The principles of data management and the costs of storage have flipped with the advent of big data and cloud.

Software developers also need to have a business marketing mindset. What is the problem I'm trying to solve? How will what I'm building be monetized?

How do you set priorities to be the best developer you can be?

  • Hone your mind and your skills. Exercise to feel the performance you can get out of your mind at the end of the day.
  • Be secure by default. This is important for you and your company.  Identity management is a significant issue today.
  • Stay relevant by staying on the bleeding edge of development.
  • Endure the pain and struggle around learning new languages to stay relevant.
  • It’s hard to keep up with announcements from AWS, but stay on your toes, stay hungry, and think about what you can do today that you couldn’t do yesterday.
  • A lot of doors are opening. Decide which ones are worth exploring.

What do you think about when building a product catered to developers?

  • Here's an opportunity to help developers get on the bleeding edge.
  • Lambda and serverless is getting code deployed in a totally different paradigm — we need to expose developers to this. Google is doing the same with functions.
  • We all need to keep on learning to keep up with the pace of change.
  • Each person has their own way of consuming information — we need to make it as easy and appealing as we can.

Where do you get information about what's going on in IT?

  • Spending time outside 9 to 5 to explore and trying new things.
  • News aggregation sites.
  • Just trying things. There's a lot of fluff. I try to figure what’s real and what’s vapor.

Like most developers, I'm skeptical because I've been burned too many times. I went "all in" with Adobe Atmosphere, a flash-based program pattern to design a 3-D world. I invested months and Adobe ended up “end of life-ing it.” This is the same as people building in Flash when Jobs came out and put a knife in it. You have to be prepared to retool and rebuild applications.

That's why I enjoy open source; there's less opportunity to get burned. When you end the life of a product pretty fast you leave developers between a rock and hard place.

What inspires and motivates you?

  • Some of the better open source solutions have been built because there were a passion and a pain and a problem to solve rather than a desire to make money.
  • Stay relevant by gravitating to open protocols OAuth Open Connect have a path forward if I need to "rip and replace."
  • Okta is having a transformation from an IT SaaS product to an identity platform:
    • This provides an opportunity to use "best in class" tools and solutions.
    • It eliminates the need for developers to build identity and authentication given that the average data breach now costs $22 million.
  • From a roadmap perspective I'm excited about:
    • Extensibility
    • Webhooks
    • Developers can leverage Okta as an identity provider.
    • Developers' ability to build a white label experience on top of Okta.
  • A lot of flow is difficult to build; look for pre-built solutions like:
    • MFA
    • Multi-tenancy
    • IP new device detection
  • Take time to build out secure, high-quality applications and APIs.
  • Eliminate the need to build identity management over and over.
  • Identity is at the core of every application.
  • The more the developer can focus on UX and CX the better the application will be.


agile ,future proof ,soft skills ,developer career ,developer products ,developer education

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