While most of the world’s economy continued to vacillate between slow growth and brink of recession during 2012, the technology sector seemed not to notice, as money flowed like wine for acquisitions and growth.

Unlike past years, though, when infrastructure deals commanded major dollars, 2012 was led by social media. (One area of infrastructure that DID see investment was in the cloud, in building out the clouds themselves, and storage solutions to hold all that cloudy stuff.)

Despite Facebook’s IPO flop (it fell from an opening price of US$43 per share into the teens before rallying back to near $30 by year’s end), the company did manage to find $741 million amid the rubble to buy image service Instagram.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also spent on social computing, shelling out $1.2 billion for social networking software Yammer. It then spent the better part of the second half of 2012 laying out its vision for putting Yammer into all its software and redefining how people will work.

Google, which surpassed Microsoft for second place in market capitalization among technology companies (but remains behind Apple), made $300 million in investments in 2012 through its Google Ventures arm, with 32% of its investments going into mobile, and 31% going into the consumer Internet. And, notably, Google acquired social marketing software provider Wildfire for $350 million.

In the mobile space, API management company Apigee paid an undisclosed sum for mobile app-payment processing technology from the Wholesale Applications Community, a mobile software development organization.

Big spending, though, wasn’t limited to social media and mobile. IBM made a dizzying number of deals in 2012, including the $1.3 billion it spent for talent management software maker Kenexa.

The NoSQL and Big Data markets also saw plenty of action, with IBM again involved. It bought discovery and navigation software provider Vivisimo to meld into its existing Big Data analytics software and to create a solution that helps people gain better insights into their information. Meanwhile, MongoDB developer 10gen received funding from Intel Capital and Red Hat in November, after securing $42 million in a financing round led by New Enterprise Associates in late May. 10gen reported that before the November stake, the company had raised more than $73 million in funding since the company’s inception in 2007.

Also receiving a huge influx of cash in 2012 was DataStax, the company built around support for NoSQL database Cassandra. Funding came in at $25 million from such companies as Crosslink Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Meritech Capital Partners.

In November, Big Data analytics startup Sumo Logic managed to wrestle $30 million from investors in its third round of funding. Accel Partners led the way, along with Sutter Hill Ventures and Greylock Ventures. With the funding, Sumo Logic should be better placed to compete with rival Splunk, which showed a 56% increase in license revenue for its fiscal third quarter reported in November. And the company also announced an expansion that will result in its occupying the entire former Gallo Salame factory in San Francisco. Talk about a meaty business!

So what does it mean for developers? It means what we’ve been reporting all year: Your applications have to be able to run in the cloud, on multiple devices, and with a fantastic user experience. The tools and technologies to do this have arrived. Are your skills up to the task?

David Rubinstein is editor-in-chief of SD Times.