Developers haven't embraced public clouds -- yet

Survey of 13,000 developers find large numbers still prefer to keep things on-premises.

Public cloud platforms may have become a multi-billion-dollar industry, but so far only a relatively small minority of developers are biting.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's the finding of a new survey of more than 13,000 developers, published by VisionMobile. "Public clouds might be the way of the future, but as far as developers are concerned they're not yet the way of the present," the report's authors -- Bill Ray, Mark Wilcox, and Christina Voskoglou -- conclude. They note that public cloud giant Amazon Web Services, the leading public cloud, only serves as the primary platform for 16% of software developers. Another 44% of developers prefer to keep their apps in-house entirely. AWS "may dominate the public-cloud industry, but when it comes to cloud development the most-popular hosting option is to keep things in-house," they observe.

There are several reasons why developers haven't been breaking down the doors of public cloud providers, the survey finds. Security, for one, still weighs heavily on the minds of developers when it comes to public cloud. Plus, there are issues with language choices. "We can see distinct preferences as users of specific languages show a demonstrable preference for particular hosts," Ray, Wilcox and Voskoglou state. "The APIs made available through languages differ between providers, and features available on one cloud may appeal to users of a specific language." For example, "Google's PaaS offering, Google App Engine, only supports Java, Python, PHP and Go, and the Java VM supports the latest frameworks, and Google offers extensive tutorials showing how to get the best out of the App Engine with Java. Heroku offers dynamically scalable services well suited to scripting languages, such as Ruby and JavaScript, so it isn't surprising that we see those kinds of language dominate that cloud."

Convenience and flexibility may also be driving factors in self-hosted clouds, they add. ""The availability of cloud environments is also a factor, enabling enterprises to realize 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."

Amazon dominates as the public cloud of choice among developers, but Microsoft Azure as close second.