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Looking to see if the skills you possess are the ones most in demand? Are there areas within your overall skill set that need to be addressed to increase your marketability? We have combined the categories within our skills profiles to showcase what the ultimate DevOps engineer would look like based on corporate demand. Not only can you see the skill in each category that is currently at the top of the mountain, but also the ones realizing the greatest percentage growth. Essentially, one can view the incumbent and the challengers on its heels. Therefore, the notion of the ultimate DevOps engineer is fluid, and a certain skill can change on a quarter by quarter basis.

On a side note, there are a couple of categories that were deemed difficult to narrow. In this case, there were two of them, security and storage. We felt it best to stick with broad skills, such as SSL for security or SAN for storage. Also, within the networking section, it was determined to stick with application protocols, such as HTTP. The remaining categories provided a much easier means to narrow the field to an exact skill. As always, we are open to feedback. Thus, if there is a better way to get more specific results for security or storage, we are all ears.

Nearly synonymous with the evolution of open source software, the LAMP stack was the de facto standard for years. The combination of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP was a must for any individual interested in having a Linux system administration job or web application development. Each of these components was in such a demanding position that it appeared it was a combination that would have legs for years to come. Sure, technological advancements happen at a rapid pace and the scenery is ever changing, but it was tough to envision a world that did not include the LAMP stack. To this day, it is still widely used, but based on the numbers, it is in decline.

One must remember that each component is not tied necessarily to the other. Therefore, one must break down the stack to see where the shortfall lies. It goes without saying the L part of the stack is going nowhere. Linux is Linux and will remain in a dominant position. After all, while the open source revolution did not start with Linux, it is the catalyst that has gotten us to this point. For all intents and purposes, the L does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Apache maintains its dominance among web servers, however, its position is waning. Over the course of the last four years, Apache was highlighted a third less times. This seems to be primarily due to the competition it faces. Over the same amount of time, there has been increases in the use of other web servers such as Nginx, Lighttpd and node.js. With more choices available, it is just natural that it is going to face an uphill battle to remain in its dominant position.

The M part of the stack arguably has faced the biggest changes over the years. During MySQL's run up to a dominant position in the marketplace, it operated as a separate entity. Then came the lure of being taken over by a behemoth in Oracle. Of course, the ironic part of that transaction was a company that would have to decide between driving clients to its own very successful proprietary database or push clients to an open source alternative. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell you that there is more profit in its proprietary solution. Thus, which one do you think it was pushing more? Outside of that, much like Apache, a constant rise in competition and market dynamics has also played a part. For one, the core of the MySQL crew decided to create its own alternative, MariaDB. In addition, with the demands on data, NoSQL led databases have had a nice growth spurt over the same time frame. And, PostgreSQL has always been an alternative for a number of years.

Finally, much like the M, the P is also under duress. While the P could encompass PHP, Perl or Python; initially, PHP was the dominant one of the group. And, PHP has fallen precipitously over the last five years. Some may ask why that is the case. The simple answer is time. Rarely do you see a language maintain a dominant position for years on end. Languages come along and are replaced by something new or an existing language used in a different manner. In this case, Javascript probably is the most responsible for companies transitioning away from PHP. As far as Perl and Python, their numbers do not play out to a similar fate as PHP. Their uses are more wide ranging than that of PHP. Thus, where they may be declining in regards to the reliance on the LAMP stack, both Perl and Python are making up that loss in other areas.

While the LAMP stack is far from dead, there is change in the marketplace that has taken place over the last few years. The open source revolution has created new methodologies on ways to approach development. Choice is at the forefront of this movement. Therefore, a whole host of new acronyms have become widely distributed. In an arena where LAMP once reigned supreme, the market has introduced variants such as LEMP, LAPP and MEAN. Each company is assessing which solution to utilize in its development process, and with the advent of alternatives, it is impossible for the mighty not to fall.
There has been concern for nearly five years application servers are dead. Truth be told, they are not dead, but is their usage in decline? The simple answer is yes. Over the years, it appears corporate environments have decided the "return on investment" is not there when looking at Java application servers. On the surface, one might assume that the likes of WebSphere or WebLogic might be the ones in decline due to cost. Perhaps it is just affecting the proprietary choices, while their open source based derivatives are growing or remaining steady? Appears not. Whichever Java application server you choose, all of them are in a state of decline.

Whether it be proprietary options such as WebSphere or WebLogic, or open source alternatives JBoss or Tomcat, all are in decline based on employment listings we review. However, they are not declining at the same pace. From our collection of data, WebSphere and WebLogic's decline has been more muted. The rate of reduction for each of these application servers is in the neighborhood of 25-35% over the last couple years. At the same time, the likes of JBoss and Tomcat have declined around 40-45%. Not a drastic difference, but one that still is notable.
Why are the FLOSS based application servers losing ground at a faster clip than their proprietary brethren? I am sure there is a multitude of possibilities, but one that might glean some insight is the progressive nature of different companies. It is more likely a company that relies on proprietary solutions is an established entity that moves at a slower pace when considering changes. There is a strong probability it will keep the existing application server around for a longer period of time before switching gears. Meanwhile, companies that have FLOSS based solutions are more likely to be more nimble. They probably have a tendency to keep up with the trends more aggressively, and as a result do not hesitate to make a change when there is a technological advantage in doing so.

Outside the business prognostication, there are some seismic transitions that have occurred within engineering departments. Primarily the processes that they follow. During this time of application server regression, we have witnessed the rising of DevOps, Micro Services, Serverless and Continuous Delivery. Each of these have had a profound effect. Whether it be an application being developed using Continuous Delivery resulting in the need for multiple deployments daily, or Micro Services' need for a taxing multiple application servers to run each component, the servers bog down the potential efficiency. On top of that, the popularity of structuring a department in a DevOps fashion has limited the need for an application server. Ultimately, the amount of employment listings proclaiming a need for proficiency in these three categories has jumped significantly in the last five years. Hence, it is hard to dispute their importance in this trend.

Besides what has been mentioned, there are a multitude of other factors that might be up for debate. However, one can not ignore the current decline of application servers no matter what there makeup is. It appears more and more entities are realizing they do not need the complexity and lack of efficiency of utilizing an application server to deploy applications. Engineering departments are in a constant state of reconfiguring their processes, and in the case of application servers, it appears that the part they once played in the overall infrastructure is no longer a necessity.

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