IBM scientist predicts software's future

Bigger, more ubiquitous and transparent, but software developers will increasingly have to worry about security and privacy issues, says Grady Booch.

The future will see bigger, more pervasive, transparent and advanced software catering to the growing complexities users will eventually demand, predicted IBM's chief scientist Grady Booch.

Along with these software developments, however, will come lingering issues and concerns that software programmers need to address, cautioned Booch, who was speaking at the annual IBM Rational Software Conference held this week in Orlando, United States. The executive is a prominent figure in software development and creator of the Booch Method, an object-oriented analysis and design language.

"We will see software that are far more complex as needs become more complex," he said. Booch noted that unlike previous generations, today's current pool of developers no longer need to worry about infrastructure and computing power when creating software programs.

Programmers are no longer burdened with these "limitations", he said, adding that software developers can now build applications far more complex and more powerful than previous offerings.

Future computers will continue to perform faster and microchips will eventually use atoms-to-transistor systems, offering more computing power than ever before, he said.

"Such chips are still subject to quantum effects and power dissipation issues, but eventually, these concerns will be addressed," Booch said. There are breakthroughs continuously being made in the area of microchips, and the advent of multicore computing is just the beginning, he said, adding that chipmakers, including IBM and Intel, have agreed to make multicore computing "the norm".

Programmers are also expected to continually benefit from a generally reliable global Internet that will take software collaboration to new heights, said Booch.

The traditional copper, for instance, may be able to transmit as much as 10 gigabytes per second of data, he said. Wireless connections will also become more ubiquitous.

Global economic giants will also continue to embrace the Internet, foremost of which is China, which has the most number of IPv4 addresses--eclipsing even the United States, Booch said.

The rules of the game are changing, he said, as limitations such as computing power and infrastructure are no longer major concerns.

However, he said, questions will linger. For example, what will future software look like? How will programmers build these massive software? How will technology companies deploy these software? What will be the value proposition of these complex software?

Booch also noted that the human side of programming will remain an issue, noting that factors such as huge computing power and the right infrastructure, will not be a guarantee that software engineers will come up with the "right" software.

The few key elements that "cannot be taught" are innovation, imagination and the right social skills, which will enable a programmer to realize important issues and address what users may want in the future, he said.

"You just cannot outsource innovation," Booch said, referring to the growing trend of companies farming out their operations.

The IBMer also predicted that the unprecedented growth in data, brought about by the Internet, will also play a big part in how programmers design future software.

With the continuing boom in Internet usage, which Booch said will not wane anytime soon, programmers and technology companies need to look closely at privacy issues, security breaches, among others.

The threat of cybercrime will always loom in such scenarios, he said, noting that cybercrime is like the "wild, wild west" where rules are not yet very clear.

However, the future looks bright for software programming, Booch said, adding that it will be both an exciting and challenging time for the industry.

"Every advance for the future state of the world requires the presence of software yet to be written," Booch said.

A freelance IT writer based in the Philippines, Joel D. Pinaroc reported from the IBM Rational Software Conference in Orlando.