New developerWorks survey shows dominance of cloud computing and mobile application development

A new developerWorks global survey of 2,000 IT professionals indicates cloud computing and mobile application development are hot topics today, and are expected to emerge as the most in-demand platforms for software development over the next five years. The survey also highlights the importance of industry-specific expertise, and predicts a high demand for software development in social media and business analytics.

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Michael O'Connell, Editor-in-chief, developerWorks, IBM

Photo of Michael O'ConnellMichael O'Connell is the founding Editor-in-chief and editorial director of IBM's developerWorks site, which launched in 1999. Before joining developerWorks, he served as founding Editor-in-chief of IDG's JavaWorld and a founding editor of SunWorld Online -- two of the industry's first successful Web-based technology magazines. He's been a computer journalist since 1991.



08 October 2010

The 2010 IBM Tech Trends Survey, conducted online by IBM developerWorks in August and September, garnered responses from a wide range of IT professionals, with expertise in areas such as software testing, system and network administration, software architecture, and enterprise and web application development. Thirty percent of the respondents are IBM Business Partners. No IBM employee responses are included in the analysis.

The findings from this survey validate recent developerWorks investments in content and resources dedicated to cloud computing, mobile application development, and industries, and encourage our ongoing investments in these areas.

Cloud computing to overtake on-premise computing

Nine out of 10 respondents to the survey, which reached more than 2,000 IT professionals worldwide, anticipate cloud computing overtaking on-premise computing by 2015 as the primary way organizations acquire IT.

Figure 1: Responses to the question,"How do you rate the potential for cloud computing to overtake on-premise computing as the primary way organizations acquire IT by 2015?".¹
How respondents rated the potential for cloud computing to overtake on-premise computing as the primary way organizations acquire IT by 2015.

Survey comments

As a part of the survey, respondents were asked to describe what they like about developerWorks. We got hundreds of responses.

Here's a small sample:

  • "Highly professional writers of technical (IT) articles."
  • "Variety of technologies covered by articles, big focus on open source tools. I actually highly regard IBM for the open source content of developerWorks and frequency of new articles posted there."
  • "Rich technical materials."
  • "The wealth of content is awesome."
  • "The technical expertise and the active community."
  • "Keeps me informed with new technologies and possibility to improve myself."
  • "Huge wealth of knowledge."
  • "Updated learning material covering vast set of technologies."
  • "I can learn from experts."
  • "Great information about Linux."

Feel free to add your thoughts about the survey, anecdotes about your experiences with cloud, mobile, industry-specific application development, or general comments about developerWorks. Just use the comments feature at the end of this article. We hope to hear from you.

developerWorks was quick to recognize the growing importance of cloud computing well before conducting this survey. Last year we initiated a dedicated team effort around cloud computing and published dozens of cloud-related how-to articles, tutorials, demos, podcasts, and other resources. This year we further expanded our cloud focus, launching a new dedicated Cloud computing zone, and we're on pace to increase our cloud-related materials by more than 100 percent. We also added dozens of new developerWorks groups and discussion forums focused on cloud computing.

"The Cloud computing zone offers a wide array of material, from a new to cloud computing section for people who are just getting started, to in-depth technical articles, briefings and products available in a cloud environment for those already working on cloud projects," explains Aimee Dean, developerWorks Cloud computing editor.

"We're really excited about our community-based growth,” Dean adds. “At present, there are more than 40 groups on developerWorks devoted to some aspect of cloud computing.” And the community around cloud (like all developerWorks communities) includes experts both inside and outside of IBM.

"We talk to the experts, whether they are IBM Cloud designers and planners, cloud application developers and evangelists from IBM product brands, or outside programmers posing a question on one of our forums or chats,” says Dean. “We reach out to potential authors and in the process learn what the people on the front lines of cloud computing think are the important topics. We listen to our community managers. And then we develop materials to support the interests of developerWorks Cloud users."

In October we're hosting virtual Cloud computing for developers events to help developers learn how to solve business and technical challenges in the cloud. And we continue to expand our efforts globally through more dedicated local-language efforts such as our Cloud zones in China and Japan, Brazil, and Spanish-speaking Americas.


Mobile application development to dominate

The majority (55 percent) of survey respondents see mobile application development for devices such as iPhone and Android, and even tablet PCs like iPad and PlayBook, surpassing application development on other platforms over the next five years.

developerWorks editors closely follow the market and noticed increased interest on mobile topics, including Android and iPhone. As a result we address this key topic extensively, providing a wide range of content and resources. We have already published twice as much technical content and resources focused on iPhone, Android, and mobile computing in 2010 than we did last year. For example, developerWorks has published dozens of how-to articles and resources about Android and iPhone over the past few years. Additionally, we just launched the first developerWorks mobile application for the Apple iPhone that makes it easy to build your skills and interact with your peers on developerWorks without having to be at your computer. We detail how we built this iPhone application in a how-to article by Nick Poore and Ami Dewar of developerWorks.

Figure 2: Responses to the question,"Do you see mobile application development surpassing application development on other platforms over the next five years?".¹
How respondents see mobile application development surpassing application development on other platforms over the next five years.

When considering a shorter timeframe, two-fifths of respondents indicate that "mobile" will be one of "the most in demand areas for software development" in 2011. One-third (33 percent) indicate cloud and software as a service will be in high demand. A quarter of the respondents expect high demand for social media, business analytics, and industry-specific areas.

Figure 3: Responses to the question,"For 2011 expectations, how would you rate the following as the most in demand areas for software development?".¹
How respondents rated social media, cloud computing, software as a service, mobile, industry-specific, and business analytics as the most in demand areas for software development in 2011.

IT professionals need, but often lack, industry-specific knowledge

Looking beyond general technical and IT expertise, more than 90 percent of respondents believe it is important to have specific "domain knowledge of the industry you work in." Nearly two thirds (63 percent) admit they lack knowledge about their industry. This is a gap developWorks is addressing with our new Industries zone.

"We started developerWorks Industries as a place to aggregate industry-specific technical articles, tutorials, and resources," says Dan Hattenberger, developerWorks Industries editor. "We knew we had good industry-specific articles in developerWorks, but using search terms like 'healthcare' or 'banking' returned way too many false hits. So we created Industries to make it easy for developers to find technical content, collaboration sites, and other resources specific to their industry." The Industries zone also is producing more content and resources to help IT professionals gain more industry knowledge. As Hattenberger notes, "We’re just getting started. Authors are busy creating over 30 articles to appear in the next several months."

Figure 4: Responses to the question, "Outside of your technical, IT expertise, do you find that domain knowledge of the industry you work in is ____."¹
How respondents rated domain knowledge of the industry they work in, outside of their own technical IT expertise.
Figure 5: Responses to the question, "Outside of your technical, IT expertise, rate your current domain knowledge of the industry you work in." ¹
How respondents rated their current domain knowledge of the industry they work in.

When asked which industries offer "the best opportunity" 31 percent of respondents selected telecommunications, and 21 percent chose financial services. developerWorks already features five industries, including banking and financial services, and is adding more industries, including telecommunications, in the coming months.

Figure 6: Responses to the question, "If you could pick a new industry in which to expand your IT career based on where you think the best opportunity would be, which would it be?".¹
How respondents replied when asked what new industry would they pick as the best opportunity to expand their IT career.

Continuing to track trends

developerWorks continues to keep tabs on industry trends. In addition to employing surveys of our community, we discuss trends with thought leaders, market experts, and industry analysts inside and outside of IBM. We interact with consultants, presenters, and attendees at IBM and non-IBM industry conferences, and communicate, both online and offline, with developers and IT professionals, including our many esteemed authors who span the globe.

Our constant monitoring of the industry landscape helps us recognize trends even before surveys confirm they exist. This practice led to our creating new zones dedicated to Industries and Cloud computing, and led to our extensive collection of mobile application development content and resources, including two brand new HTML5 articles published just this week, Data-driven interactive applications with HTML5 and Ajax and Introducing HTML5 video: Why we need HTML5 video and how to use it. HTML5 is no doubt a hot topic today.

If you have insight to share about industry trends, or want to request more content and resources on technology X or product Y, let us know by commenting below.

¹Survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.


Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Victoria Ovens for creating the graphs in this article, Ferdinand Kolcak and Chuyi (Jeremy) Zhang for their design, execution, and evaluation work on this survey, and Katie Johnson and Lon Levitan for their analysis and input.

Resources

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