Programming Languages and Their Use Cases

Every now and then, another rating of the most popular programming languages arrives, prompting decision-makers to question the choice of language for their new project. Luckily, various ratings by RedMonk, GitHub, PyPL Index, Tiobe, Stack Overflow and suchlike depict that the changes on the top 10 languages list are subtle. We have compiled our own go-to guide to the best coding languages in relation to the business challenges they address.

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Factors to Consider

Before we proceed to the list, let’s explore the various factors that may influence our choice. Frequently, the team’s skillset is the only determinant. However, making the decision solely using this factor is likely to bring difficulties in the future.

On top of the existing team’s expertise, there are technical aspects that should be prioritized when deciding on a language:

  • Technological characteristics and performance capabilities of the language — elasticity, coding speed, performance, memory consumption, IDE availability, error handling
  • Technological considerations — infrastructure, platform, technology, legacy codebase, frameworks, architectural environment
  • Security considerations
  • Economic considerations — the costs of licensing, employee training and codebase migration
  • Legal considerations
  • Project’s business objective that the ultimate solution is expected to address

The business objective is the aspect that we would like to consider closely. In this brief overview, we will leave out the technicalities and focus on the most popular languages with respect to the business needs they meet.

C

С has influenced, directly or not, many others, including C++, C#, Go, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, Perl, PHP, Python and Swift. Most of them inherited its control structure, syntax and some basic features.

High speed, stability, efficiency and availability are among the reasons why C is popular for addressing various technological and business challenges. Moreover, other languages’ libraries, interpreters, compilers and reference implementations are often written in C, which is why it is used as an intermediate language.

C++

Released in the early 80s as the extension of C — “C with Classes” — C++ has significantly improved over time and has transformed into a high-performing language. A lot of vendors implement it as a compiled language — IBM, Oracle, Intel, Microsoft and others.

Like its ancestor, C++ was initially designed for system programming and embedded development. Now, its use spans resource-limited software — video games, desktop enterprise applications, servers — and high-speed applications. It is also a good choice for scientific computing and mathematical software.

C#

Another offspring of С, C# was created as its incremental compiling version — even its name indicates it. Called after a musical note, the sharp sign depicts that this language is just a semitone different from its ancestor. The project has failed, but the name is still alive.

In 2001, Microsoft once again created the language for its .NET initiative, to develop software components that are deployed in distributed environments. Since then, C# powers solutions based on the .NET framework and serves enterprise and game development, data visualization and storage.

Go

Go, frequently referred to as Golang, is a rising star, and we could not leave it out in the cold. Google’s pet project, this modern language was designed to create distributed systems and powerful software that can address “real-world challenges,” such as low-speed program setup, uncontrolled dependencies, duplication, cross-language interoperability and many others.

Since its creation in 2009, Go has been steadily gaining momentum, and it now occupies the 11th position in TIOBE Index for February 2020. Some experts predict that the chances that one day Golang will substitute C and C++ are high.

Java

This general-purpose, object-oriented language named after coffee has been on the market since 1996 and is not about to roll over. In fact, statistics show that Java is the number one programming language when it comes to the number of job postings. Write Once, Run Anywhere, as Java’s slogan asserts — what this all about?

With Java, a business kills two birds with one stone: it can build any software, from comprehensive business systems to desktop software to robust Android-based mobile applications. This versatile language is also efficient in creating data visualization software, distributed systems, data storage solutions and Big Data management software.

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JavaScript

No, JavaScript does not have any relation to Java, except that both of them have similar syntax and standard libraries — they are very different when it comes to other characteristics. JavaScript is a core web development technology that enables page interactivity. A large majority of websites rely on it to manage client-side behavior.

Over time, the use of JavaScript outgrew the client-side, and now it also spans the development of web and mobile applications, distributed systems, non-browser software and the server-side of website deployments.

PHP

The acronym PHP was originally short for “Personal Home Page.” Over time, it morphed into “PHP: Hyertext Preprocessor” — it is obvious that was designed for web development. Since its release in 1995, PHP has powered thousands of websites and is still the number one web development language. It continues to become ever more efficient, cost-effective and faster.

WordPress, Drupal and Joomla use PHP as the server-side language, with Facebook and Wikipedia relying on it as well. Besides its use in the web context, PHP also enables the development of graphical and drone control applications.

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Python
Amazing but true, this language was not called after a snake — instead, it’s named after Monty Python! For almost 30 years, Python has been proclaiming code readability and visual succinctness, heavy use of significant whitespace, English keywords instead of punctuation and logical coding as its design philosophy.

Python serves for a wide variety of purposes: the development of extensive web applications, data storage, Big Data processing, data science, data visualization, video games, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and information security. For many operating systems, Python has become a standard component. Also, it is the number one choice when it comes to script writing, complex structure rendering and natural language processing.

SQL

SQL, or Structured Query Language, was created almost 50 years ago to manage data that are held in databases and ensure the smooth communication of data repositories with other system components. Now, it is the standard language for relational database management systems.

RDBMS solutions from prominent market players, such as Microsoft, Oracle and Ingress, all use SQL; however, almost all of them combine it with their special-purpose proprietary extensions. A tool to query data from RDBMS, SQL also processes streams and handles structured data.

Swift

Developed by Apple as an alternative to Objective-C, Swift seems to eliminate the need for its predecessor. Sometimes called as “Objective-C without the C,” it operates under a principle of up-to-date programming concepts and has a simple syntax. Software for macOS, iOS, Linux and other native operative systems for Apple is the area on which Swift focuses.

Follow Your Goals

As it follows from the list, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That is why we recommend going by a business goal that software is expected to support in the first place. Once you get a clear idea of a solution you need to develop, you can pick languages that can help you achieve it. Then, you can dig deeper and select the one that meets all your considerations — technological, economic, legal and security.

Risks of Shadow IT and How To Mitigate Them

Shadow IT is one of the most worrying problems for any organization, from small businesses to large enterprises. It creates additional challenges for IT departments and often puts an organization’s entire network at risk. According to Gartner, by 2020, around 30 percent of successful attacks on enterprises will be on their unsanctioned shadow IT resources.

ShadowThis article explains the main risks of shadow IT and what can be done to detect and mitigate this problem.

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Hiding in the shadows

What is shadow IT? Basically it’s any IT system, technology, or application that’s deployed and used without the approval of the corporate IT department. In some cases, personal devices including cell phones and USB devices may also be considered part of shadow IT.

The most common examples of shadow IT are popular cloud services like Dropbox and Salesforce and commonly used messengers like Viber and WhatsApp. However, what’s considered part of shadow IT mostly depends on a particular company’s corporate policy.

People turn to shadow IT for different reasons. The most common reasons for using shadow IT are:

  • Efficiency – Approved software and solutions can be (or at least seem to be) slower, less effective, and less productive than unsanctioned alternatives.
  • Compatibility – Corporate solutions may be incompatible with users’ personal devices.
  • Comfort – People tend to use software and solutions they’re used to.

Even though shadow IT often seems to be helpful to end users, it poses a serious threat to enterprises.

But why is shadow IT so dangerous? The main threat posed by unsanctioned software and applications hides in its unaccountability — you can’t effectively manage something that you don’t even know exists. As a result, both security and performance of the entire network are put at risk.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common risks of shadow IT:

  • Lack of security – Lack of visibility and control over network elements are the main cybersecurity risks of using shadow IT. They create numerous weak spots that hackers may use for compromising a system and collecting or stealing sensitive business information. Plus, since unsanctioned software and applications aren’t managed by the IT department, they usually have lots of unpatched errors and vulnerabilities.
  • Performance issues – Certain products and solutions can be incompatible with the main components of the IT infrastructure, leading to serious performance issues.
  • Data loss – An IT department can’t create backups for software they don’t know is present in the network, while shadow IT users usually don’t think (or know) that backups are necessary. As a result, there’s always a significant risk of losing important, valuable, and sensitive data.

    Throwing light upon shadow IT

    Currently, there are two common ways to deal with unapproved software and cloud applications: deploy shadow IT discovery and management solutions or turn to DevOps. Let’s take a closer look at each of these options.

    Shadow IT discovery and management solutions

    IT asset inventory systems are one tool that can be used to detect shadow IT. These systems gather detailed inventory information on hardware and software running in the network. Based on this information, you can analyze how different assets are used.

    In order to ensure efficient detection of unsanctioned cloud applications, the following four features are needed:

    • Visibility – An IT asset inventory system should provide full visibility of the monitored IT environment and all IT assets present in it.
    • Automatic updates – All received data should be accurate and up-to-date so you can see what’s happening and react immediately when needed.
    • Asset categorization – Not all IT assets have the same importance and criticality, so it’s crucial to rank assets according to their importance.
    • Compatibility with the configuration management database – An IT asset inventory solution should be fully compatible with the configuration management database (CMDB) so it can perform constant information updates to the database.

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Do you even need to fight it?

There’s no denying that shadow IT is dangerous and can pose a serious threat to any company. However, that doesn’t mean there are zero benefits to using unsanctioned software in the corporate network.

What are the benefits of shadow IT? First and foremost, the mere fact that unapproved software is running on a company’s systems shows that approved solutions don’t meet the requirements of employees: they’re either inefficient or uncomfortable or both.

Secondly, there’s always a chance of shadow IT turning out to be more productive and cost-effective than already deployed solutions. The main task here is to recognize the solutions that can be more beneficial to the company and find a way to implement them effectively into the current infrastructure.