Hackernoon logoKeeping Up With Digital Transformation: Career Advice For Java Professionals by@alextheedom

Keeping Up With Digital Transformation: Career Advice For Java Professionals

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@alextheedomAlex Theedom

Principal Technical Instructor MuleSoft

If you are an experienced Java developer and you want to know how to get ahead in these unprecedented times, then adding digital transformation skills to your resume will give you the boost you want. 

In this article, I will define digital transformation and discuss how to leverage your Java expertise to gain an advantage in this high-demand area.

What is digital transformation? 

According to Gartner, it’s “the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model”. This is about making it easy for businesses to connect data from any system, no matter where it resides, in order to create connected experiences, faster.

The challenges and benefits for businesses

The challenge that businesses face is that their data is fragmented. It's drawn from multiple sources and is frustratingly difficult to process, which, for companies that rely on timely and accurate data to operate competitively, is far from optimal. 

So by connecting systems and unifying data, businesses can easily compose connected experiences while maintaining security and control. This enables them to unlock capabilities to build solutions that deliver exponentially increasing value and innovate at scale.

Digital transformation under Covid-19

Businesses care a great deal about digital transformation and have been implementing methods to achieve it for many years. However, in these challenging times, the need for business transformation is even more urgent and made so by the demand to provide services and products online. The current covid-19 pandemic has accelerated organizations' efforts to adapt quickly to changing consumer behavior, and those businesses that succeed will continue to flourish. In contrast, those that fail to adapt quickly enough will fall behind and risk failure.

Java professionals and digital transformation

The demand for Java professionals with digital transformation expertise has skyrocketed during the last few months. As businesses rapidly shift their efforts to adapt to the new normal, they have a greater need to unlock and unify their data. They know that it empowers their business to create connected data experiences faster and in a more scalable way that satisfies their customers. The enabler of this digital transformation is the modern API.

Modern APIs are the enablers of digital transformation

As Java developers, we know what an API is and how to create one. When we refer to modern APIs, though, we have a specific incarnation in mind. It's a RESTful API that encompasses features above and beyond the representation of data. It is discoverable, reusable, and self-serviceable. It is easy to govern and designed in accordance with a solid architectural approach that promotes innovation at scale. It's more than just a simple RESTful API; it's a modern API supported by an API platform.

The role that Java plays

There are many platforms available that provide the Java professional with the capabilities to build APIs and integration solutions. Many of you may have used Camel or Spring integration. You may have built microservices and SOAP services. These are all solid approaches to integration that have been used for many years by businesses to access and unify data. However, none of these solutions provide the governance, scalability, reuse, and rapid development required by a business looking to transform quickly. This is where the API-led connectivity approach comes in. 

What is API-led connectivity?

API-led connectivity is an architectural approach that emphasizes reuse, discoverability, self-service, and governance for every API created as part of an application network. It's the modern approach used by companies who want to liberate and unify data stored in siloed systems. It relies on three-tier of APIs that abstract over data systems and provides a ubiquitous way to access and aggregate data. 

How to leverage my Java knowledge?

APIs developed as part of an API-led connectivity architecture rely on the Java-based runtime named the Mule runtime. They are designed and built to execute on the runtime and are deployed to isolated containers or virtual machines.

As a Java developer, your knowledge of software development best practices, JVM concepts such as multithreading, and the experience you gained while architecting and building SOAP web services and microservices is invaluable. It gives you an enormous head start over those without that background.

All APIs built to run on the Mule runtime are Java applications under the hood. They are built from smaller building blocks of Java libraries that collaborate to form the logic required to provide the service of the API itself. Mule APIs are always RESTful APIs.

Developing those RESTful APIs is achieved via a graphical interface consisting of visual representations of the execution flows that represent the collaboration of building blocks. These flows incorporate the integration logic that unifies data and orchestrates calls to other APIs in the API-led connectivity architecture.

Interesting challenges for the Java professionals

Considering that the typical business that adopts the API-led connectivity approach is a large international entity, which has millions of customers, the challenge for the Java professional when building Mule APIs is focused on a number of key areas, they include, but are not limited to:

The Java developer: 

  • Developing non-trivial and highly performant APIs that are capable of serving 10,000’s (or more) requests per second 
  • For these non-trivial applications, troubleshooting issues with multi-threading, performance, garbage collection, and the typical issues Java developers face while developing high-performance Java applications.

The Java architect: 

  • Interpreting enterprise integrations patterns in terms of API-led connectivity’s three-tiered structure such that a business process is translated into the system, process and experience APIs.
  • Design an API-led connectivity architecture that respects its fundamental principles such that APIs are sufficiently granular to be reusable while ensuring that resources are efficiently utilized.

The Java data expert: 

  • the challenge is transforming data using a functional programming language (DataWeave) that is designed and optimized for data manipulation.

There are many more interesting challenges and opportunities waiting for the Java professional who has Mule integration skills. 

What are my next steps?

If you are interested in learning more, please consider watching my meetup Mule Integration for Java Professionals (also in Spanish), in which I will be discussing opportunities for Java professionals in digital transformation using MuleSoft’s API-led connectivity approach and how to receive free professional training and certification to really give you a boost in the demanding new world of digital transformation.

Also published here.

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