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Amazon takes clear lead in cloud-based software development

Bryan Glick

Amazon has gained a clear lead as the preferred environment for software developers looking to use the cloud for building applications.

A global study, conducted by Forrester Research, polling developers with experience of using cloud environments, showed Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) as the most popular service by a significant margin. Amazon's EC2 was cited by 71% of respondents, well ahead of second-placed Microsoft Azure at 25%, which was just ahead of Google (23%) and Force.com from Salesforce.com (23%).

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Amazon's lead is set grow, with 43% of developers saying they expect their use of EC2 to increase next year, compared to 19% planning further use of Azure. No other provider registered higher than 10% of developers as a growing platform choice in 2013.

A further notable finding from the Forrester survey was the minimal use of cloud services from some of the big established IT suppliers such as IBM, HP, SAP or Oracle – Microsoft with Azure being the only exception.

Those four big players did not feature in the top 12 cloud platforms already in use, nor in the top 10 environments developers plan to use in the next 12 months.

"Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the recognised pioneer in the market and its early lead and constant innovation on this early base has attracted the largest base of early adopters and the software developers who want their business. The traditional tech players are all playing catchup," said James Staten, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"Some market players took a differentiated approach by initially offering a PaaS [platform-as-a-service] solution instead of IaaS [infrastructure-as-a-service] - Microsoft and Google most prominently. While this approach empowers developers arguably more, it does so in a way that limits what they can do. So far the majority of the cloud developers we have researched said they do not want these constraints and instead prefer either IaaS or a combination of IaaS and higher services, such as PaaS or discrete cloud services. They want the higher level abstraction until they don't."

The dominant motivation for developers choosing to use the cloud is speed. Over 90% of people surveyed said cloud was the fastest way to get projects completed and deployed.

The fastest growing business requirement for which the cloud is being used is developing mobile applications, cited by over 40% of respondents as part of their plans for 2013.

Java and Javascript are the most popular programming languages for cloud development, with C#, PHP, Python and Ruby also experiencing growing use.  

Which cloud environments have you personally used to deliver (build, deploy or both) custom applications?

Forrester survey results - Amazon most popular cloud environment

Source: Forrester Global Cloud Developer Online Survey, Q3 2012


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