06Jun

The hottest new industry for software developers is one they last flocked to in 2017 — cryptocurrency.

Citing a report by the crypto VC firm Electric Capital, Bloomberg says the number of new tech professionals going to work for cryptocurrency startups and taking on decentralized finance (DeFi) projects has been increasing at the rate of 15% per month since January. That’s about 13,600 new developers joining the crypto sector through October, according to Electric’s numbers.

Bloomberg reports that 80% of all active developers began their work in just the last two years.

Overall, however, the number of software developers working in cryptocurrency has stayed flat. Electric says the incoming professionals have gone to work mostly for the top 200 ecosystems. Outside those 200, there’s been a 30% exodus since December 2018.

The total pool of active crypto developers is about 9,000 a month, according to the report.

Yahoo Finance explains that “The [Electric Capital] report tracks ecosystems by blockchain. In other words, a Bitcoin developer is counted toward Bitcoin even if the person is working on its Lightning Network or any of its wallets.”

That developers are joining the top ecosystems and leaving those at the bottom is, Bloomberg says, “one of the best barometers of a project’s promise and health.”

Maria Shen, a partner at Electric, told Bloomberg, “Developers are one of the signals of quality in a crypto ecosystem.”

The big winner, she says, is Ethereum. With more than 300 developers a month joining the organization, Shen told Yahoo, “Ethereum has continuously grown through Crypto Winter.”

Electric’s survey of publicly available code documentation on GitHub and GitLab and elsewhere shows Ethereum had about 2,300 developers working monthly in the third quarter of the year. It’s closest competitor, Bitcoin, had 400.

Meanwhile, the report says the average monthly number of developers working on DeFi projects grew 67% since January. (Wikipedia defines DeFi as “an experimental form of finance that does not rely on central financial intermediaries such as brokerages, exchanges, or banks, and instead utilizes smart contracts on blockchains.”

Ken Deeter, an Electric Capital partner, suggested to Coindesk that developer interest in DeFi could be partially attributed to developers from fintech frustrated by what they can’t do there.

“DeFi is a really interesting area … where there’s an ability for developers to really experiment in a way that in the traditional financial system is difficult to do.”

Photo by Nick Chong on Unsplash

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Green Key

Businesses Are Seeing The Value of Blockchain Sample

Now organizations in sectors well beyond the pioneers in finance are investing in blockchain to protect data, decentralize processes and facilitate asset and data transfer.

“It’s an appealing model for many sectors, promising transparency and trust as it helps make value exchange possible,” says a SmartBrief article. Although focusing mostly on the financial sector, which is where blockchain found its earliest uses, the article mentions the steady creep of the technology into other industries and even slowly becoming commoditized as “blockchain as a service.”

“Amazon and Microsoft both currently offer BaaS, and enterprises as well as startups are taking advantage of it,” says SmartBrief. Citing a Gartner survey of CIOs, the article notes that “60% expected their firms to start or continue adopting blockchain-based technology between now and 2023.”

Earlier this year, Deloitte issued a blockchain trends report. Besides describing the evolving technology and the features each different approach offers, Deloitte found that some of the fastest growth in blockchain investments was coming in such unexpected industries as professional services – a sector that includes the staffing and employment industry – and energy and resources. In each of those 38% and 43% respectively of the firms surveyed were spending at least $5 million each on blockchain initiatives.

Not unexpectedly, the largest percentage of businesses investing in blockchain were in technology, media and telecom.

“More organizations in more sectors — such as technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, health care, and government — are expanding and diversifying their blockchain initiatives,” Deloitte observes.

Like the financial sector, life sciences and health care deal with highly sensitive medical data they must protect or face legal consequences. Those two sectors are where blockchain “can have a more immediate and meaningful impact,” says Deloitte. They are in an industry, the report explains, “In which data transparency, speed of access, immutability, traceability, and trustworthiness can provide the information necessary for life-altering decisions.”

Interestingly, Gartner assigns a similar importance – not life or death, but still vital – to blockchain’s value to media.

“Organizations and governments are now turning to technology to help counter fake news, for example, by using blockchain technology to authenticate news photographs and video, as the technology creates an immutable and shared record of content that ideally is viewable to consumers,” Gartner said.

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Green Key

A More Benign Approach to Shadow IT

Shadow IT is one of the (many) things that keep system admins awake at night.

Right now, someone in every organization with more than a handful of workers is using an app they got from the internet that the IT department knows nothing about.

Unapproved technical tools – apps, cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, and personal devices – present potential and very real security concerns. They also come with not insignificant costs when multiple business groups buy duplicate solutions. By some estimates, 40% of spending on software and tech services occurs outside the IT department.

So common is it for a computer user to use a cloud service or download an app or tool to help them do their job that Microsoft says the average number of apps being used in an organization is around 1,000.

“80% of employees use non-sanctioned apps that no one has reviewed, and may not be compliant with your security and compliance policies,” Microsoft says, introducing a tutorial for using one of its products “to discover which apps are being used, explore the risk of these apps, configure policies to identify new risky apps that are being used, and to unsanction these apps.”

Hunting down and shutting off these apps and unapproved services does help with the security risk. But relying entirely on that approach is a never-ending policing effort that only contributes to the “Department of No” perception of IT.

A recent CompTIA article on the subject says imposing ever greater restrictions may even be counterproductive. “Enhanced rules may cause workers to venture outside of approved IT more, rather than less — especially if they feel their pain points are being ignored.”

The article suggests a more benign approach that actually allows some types of shadow IT uses while also educating workers about the risks and providing them with the functionality they want.

The latter is the approach the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs is taking.

“You have to give your customers options. If they don’t feel like they’re getting serviced properly from the central IT function, they’ll go find their own way, because they’ve got a mission to execute,” Dominic Cussatt, the agency’s principal deputy chief information officer, says.

He explained that the VA is developing portfolios of services from which customers can shop.

Reporting on Cusatt’s comments at a conference, FedScoop reported, “The idea is that these portfolios are ready to deploy, checked out from a security standpoint and with buys already in place.

“Said Cusatt, ’That ease of access helps them and helps them avoid seeking other options.’”

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

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