Mobile, cloud are changing application development

Development technologies such as HTML5 are becoming more prominent in enterprises, but Java and .Net still dominate, Forrester report shows

Mobile and cloud computing are beginning to change the way that developers work at enterprise-level and smaller businesses, according to a report released this week by Forrester Research.

The report, entitled "The State of Application Development in Enterprises and SMBs," also found that the use of development technologies such as HTML5 is becoming more prominent, although Java and .Net still dominate. The report presents findings from various surveys of 933 decision makers and about 2,500 developers in North America and Europe.

[ Also on InfoWorld: A recent report by Evans Data found mobile application development is growing in prominence. | Stay up to date on the latest programming news and insights with the Developer World newsletter. ]

"Mobile development exploded in 2010 and will continue to expand in importance in 2011," said the report, which was authored by analyst Jeffrey Hammond with assistance from analysts Mike Gilpin and Adam Knoll. "But the types of mobile applications that developers are building are evolving."

According to the report, customer-facing applications constitute the most-frequently developed mobile applications, with 51 per cent of decision makers building or planning these. 39 per cent of development shops are mobilizing employee intranets and 29 per cent are readying mobile collaboration software. 51 per cent of respondents are most interested in using mobile applications or mobile-optimized websites to reach customers.

Most mobile developers plan to target iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad (roughly 56 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively). While Google Android was targeted by 50 per cent of mobile developers. Windows Mobile and RIM remained popular, but Symbian development was chosen by only eight per cent of respondents, the analysts said.

Overall, in-house developers anchor most mobile application development efforts, with nearly 80 per cent of shops planning to use their own people.

In the cloud space, one in eight development organizations has deployed applications in the cloud, according to the Forrester report. High-tech manufacturers, such as computer hardware manufacturers and consumer electronics firms, are likely to deploy applications to the cloud (24 per cent), although services firms are also aggressive adopters at 19 per cent. Developers at healthcare companies seldom use the cloud today, with less than five per cent developing, testing, or deploying cloud applications.

Clouds of choice among developers include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, which is favored by 27 per cent of Eclipse developers; Google App Engine, preferred by 18 per cent of Eclipse developers; and Microsoft Windows Azure, which is used by six in 10 Visual Studio developers.

Among cloud platforms, .Net and Java are the most widely used; 48 per cent of enterprises and 21 per cent of SMBs use both platforms. But interest in "open Web" technologies is growing.

"HTML5 is certainly one of these, with 60 per cent of developers either already using it or planning to within the next two years. But the open Web is not just about HTML5. There are others, including lightweight Web frameworks based on the LAMP stack or other frameworks like Ruby on Rails, which one in five shops is now using," Forrester said.

The report also found that developers like working with open source. "It's simple for three out of four developers -- open source helps them deliver projects faster. Seven in 10 also cited a reduction in software costs when working with open source software. The transparency of open source code is also important to 63 per cent of development professionals, while 51 per cent use open source as a hedge against vendor lock-in," Forrester analysts said. But only 22 per cent of developers actually have contributed to open source projects.

In the area of project spending, Forrester found that IT organizations "struggle to fund new software development initiatives, but they have made steady progress in increasing the proportion of the software budget spent on new initiatives and projects from 33 per cent in 2007 to 50 per cent in 2011."

This article, "Mobile, cloud are changing application development," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Read more about application development in InfoWorld's Application Development Channel.

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Paul Krill

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