The Doppler Quarterly Fall 2017 - Page 38

The Abstraction Progression: From Fortran to FaaS Mike Kavis When it comes to abstraction, there isn’t one solution that will meet all your needs. Ensure you have the right tool for the job. This year marks my 30th year in IT. I have witnessed numerous attempts by vendors over the last several decades to speed up the development process. We’ve moved from machine code to assembler to languages like Cobol, Fortran, and RPG in the early mainframe days. Each language was an attempt to abstract the complexities of the previous language in order to enable developers to complete tasks faster. Even in the mainframe era I saw code generators for Cobol and JCL. Next, came the CASE tools from companies like Ashton Tate and Texas Instruments that promised to create large amounts of code with little effort from the develop- ers. Then, came Windows which greatly abstracted away the complexities of managing operating systems. Windows empowered developers with drag and drop capabilities. The Cloud On-Demand Before cloud, I remember waiting months to get a new server procured and installed at my old corporate job. Around 2006, cloud computing emerged as the next level of abstraction. Datacenters were now being abstracted and avail- able on demand as a set of APIs. When I left the corporate world in 2008 to join a born-in-the-cloud startup, that multiple month process became a few clicks of a mouse. A working virtual machine was available in minutes. This was my first experience with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and there was no turn- ing back. 36 | THE DOPPLER | FALL 2017