Study Says Best Cloud for Software Development is AWS

Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) was recently named as the top public cloud platform for software development in a study from Forrester Research Inc.

The study restores some momentum for the perennial cloud service provider leader, as it recently has been shown to be facing increasingly strong challenges from competitors in other surveys.

Forrester broke down the cloud development community into three distinct "types" of developers, based on their approach to programming.

The three categories identified by Forrester include "coders," "DevOps pros" and "rapid developers." The primary difference among the three is their preferred level of resource control, according to "The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014."

Coders just want to code, not configure and manage infrastructure, so they prefer Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS+) offerings that take care of many of those mundane details. (Forrester defines IaaS+ as traditional IaaS vendors who add an abstract development layer and benefits commonly found in other types of platforms.)

DevOps pros write code but also do the configuration and management of servers, databases, networks, storage and so forth. Platforms that lend themselves to such extensive configuration include IaaS, IaaS+ and PaaS.

The Three Developer Types
[Click on image for larger view.] The Three Developer Types (source: Forrester Research Inc.)

Finally, the rapid developers prefer graphical tools that automatically create applications without the hassle of writing code. They measure even large application development cycles in weeks or even days and value public clouds as a new avenue to increase quantity, velocity and quality of app delivery.

Forrester weighted different criteria for ranking cloud services with respect to the needs of the three developer types, along with adding the requirements of CIOs who oversee all three development types.

In culling the list of vendors to rank from among 43 enterprise reference customers who use public cloud platforms for enterprise app development, Forrester settled on Acquia, Amazon Web Services (AWS), CenturyLink, Cordys, Dimension Data, Engine Yard, GoGrid, Google, IBM, Mendix, Microsoft, MIOsoft, OutSystems, Rackspace, Salesforce and Verizon.

Cloud powerhouse AWS ranked No. 1 closely followed by Microsoft for leadership status in all developer type categories except for rapid developers. For those speedsters, Salesforce, Mendix and OutSystems were the leading platforms as ranked by Forrester. "AWS retained a solid advantage for the DevOps and coder segments -- and as an overall choice for CIOs," the study said.

Overall, AWS, Microsoft and Salesforce were the top three cloud providers for developers.

"The capabilities of AWS' application services, coupled with its mature infrastructure services, vast ecosystem of partners, including many of the rapid dev and coder-focused platforms in this analysis, gave it high current offering and strategy scores across all but the rapid dev segment, where its degree of abstraction does not rise to the needs of this user," the study said. "It also excels in breadth of security, reliability, and compliance characteristics."

Although still listed at or near the top in rankings of cloud service providers, AWS is seeing increasingly stiff competition, according to several recent surveys, including, as reported by sister publication Virtualization Review Magazine:

With the new study, AWS is shown to be still staving off competitors in at least one crucial area, though all are making progress in trying to serve customer needsd.

"AWS, Microsoft, and Salesforce are each leaders in meeting CIO requirements," the study said. "Each of these vendors started its cloud-platform journey in a distinct position serving a specific developer type and has expanded its offerings to provide greater breadth to a wider range of developers and support for a larger catalog of application types. Across all four Forrester Wave comparisons, two vendors stood out as consistent and clear leaders, while another, AWS was a leader across three of the four segments."

In other study highlights, Forrester also found a kind of convergence of the public cloud service providers as they evolve their platforms to attract organizations and their development teams. "The popular wisdom that cloud computing comes in three flavors -- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), IaaS and PaaS -- no longer describes reality. We find that vendors are blurring the lines between the three cloud-computing categories."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.