Developer Survey Shows Public Clouds are Seldom Used for Development

Developers somewhat apprehensive about security, resilience of public cloud as primary development platform

Chris Burt

August 17, 2015

4 Min Read
Jeff Bezos Amazon
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a press conference in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)Getty Images



This article originally appeared at The WHIR

Despite the growth in cloud hosting for production environments, nearly half of developers (44 percent) use a private, in-house cloud platform for development, ahead of Amazon Web Services (16 percent) and Microsoft Azure (13 percent), according to a new poll of 13,000 developers worldwide.

This is one of the key takeaways from the the ninth edition of the annual “State of the Developer Nation”, the largest survey of developers. It was conducted over a period of five weeks in May and June 2015 by VisionMobile, a London-based firm specializing in analysis of the app economy and the developer ecosystem.

The report mentions that cloud applications hosted in local development environments can often move onto a public cloud without great upheaval. But developers are a little apprehensive about the security and resilience of public cloud as their primary development platform for the time being. Also, in-house hardware can make it easier integrate with legacy systems, local databases, and control systems.

“In many instances the convenience of self-hosting still outweighs the advantages of the public cloud,” the report states. “The availability of cloud environments is also a factor, enabling enterprises to realise many of the advantages of cloud computing within their own infrastructure, and ensure their applications will be cloud-friendly when the advantages of a hosted solution become irresistible.”

The study notes that AWS is used by big players such as Pintrest, Yelp, and for video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon’s own Amazon Instant Video, but among developers polled only 16 percent are using Amazon as their primary cloud hosting platform for development, making it only slightly more popular than Microsoft Azure.

“Amazon may dominate the public-cloud industry, but when it comes to cloud development the most-popular hosting option is to keep things in-house,” the report states.

The Connection Between Development Languages and Cloud Providers

AWS provides the greatest linguistic variability, and portrays itself as language (and platform) agnostic, meaning that Amazon customers aren’t selecting the platform on the basis of language support. AWS’s widespread usage means that it provides a clearer picture of what languages are most used by cloud developers. Java is the most popular language, followed closely by PHP, but even those two aren’t obviously predominant with neither of them making up even a quarter of all languages used.

But every other cloud platform basically has one or two dominant languages.

Heroku is a favorite for Ruby and JavaScript developers. Ruby’s chief designer was hired by Heroku as Chief Architect in 2011, leading many Ruby developers to the Heroku cloud. There are also Ruby-specific features such as high-level API calls that enable dynamic elasticity.

Microsoft’s clouds platform has been successful in attracting developers accustomed to the Microsoft ecosystem. More than half (54 percent) of Azure developers use C#, which was originally developed by Microsoft and has emerged in the cloud era as a modern and popular language for cloud development environments.

Google’s PaaS offering, Google App Engine, is predominantly used for Java, and Digital Ocean is most often used for PHP and Python apps.

Organizations choose cloud providers on various factors such as previous relationships and pricing, but developers could also push their employers towards using a cloud provider suited to their development language and style.

Location and Education Influence Language Choice

In its assessment of “Developer Nation”, the report found that self-taught developers favor newer languages such as HTML5, JavaScript, Ruby, Lua, and Swift. More formally educated individuals generally favor more established languages such as Java, Objective C, C, C++, and C#.

North American developers were more likely than their Asian counterparts to use the newer languages. HTML5 is the primary choice of 47 percent of developers in North America.

Developers Experimentation will Happen, Even if the Business Case Isn’t Clear

It’s interesting to note that among the 13,000 developers surveyed by VisionMobile, most are essentially amateurs. More than half of mobile developers (51 percent), and well over half of Internet of Things developers (59 percent) aren’t making a sustainable income (less than $500 a month).

The study notes that between promising consumer-oriented “Smart Home” and wearable technologies led by Google and Apple, IoT to drive greater efficiencies in the workplace, and municipal “Smart City” projects that haven’t worked out as-of-yet, there’s a great deal of uncertainty about the eventual audience of IoT. Study authors note that many respondents were “‘not sure’ of their eventual market, but developing systems anyway…The IoT industry is still developing, and this uncertainty about eventual audience is a sign that developers, and the companies they work for, are starting to understand that.”

However, the report said that the opportunities around creating applications for existing Things presents opportunities that aren’t as costly as producing hardware. This is seen in retail, where more than half of developers are creating applications rather than infrastructure. They produce software for existing embedded devices such as tills, bar-code readers, smart tags, and beacons rather than having to create new ones. Developers will also likely build applications around Apple Watch and Android Wear devices as they become more widely used.

Understanding developers is clearly important for any cloud service provider, and VisionMobile’s study provides some useful insights into how developers are using some of the most popular cloud services.

This first ran at

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