Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parallel Programming Skills Crisis Could Stall Server Evolution

Computerworld Australia (09/12/11) Sandra Van Dijk

The lack of parallel programming expertise worldwide will become a major issue for the information technology (IT) industry over the next 10 years, warns a RMIT University report. Advanced parallel programming skills are hard to find among professional programmers because it is taught only as an advanced elective in most computer science curricula, says RMIT professor James Harland. The report warns that without a massive injection in parallel programming talent in the IT sector, new server platforms will stall, especially in areas such as fabric-based computing. The lack of programming skill can lead to frozen states commonly known as a deadly embrace, but techniques to deal with frozen states are only taught briefly in computer science and IT programs, according to Harland. "Hence, the only real way to overcome such obstacles is to spend more time on parallel programming techniques in these courses," he notes. Parallel programming represents a different paradigm of software development in that it introduces the notion of complexity into software development, similar to learning a new programming language, says RMIT's John Lenarcic. "Only a minority of developers have sufficient training to handle parallel programs, and only a fraction have enough experience to do it well," says Gartner analyst Carl Claunch.