Are cloud-focused developers different from more earth-bound ones? A new report from Forrester says yes.
The report, "Who Are Enterprise Cloud Developers?" found that fewer than a quarter of all enterprise developers are using cloud platforms, but that there are "significant differences in the behavior, attitude, and reporting structure" of these IT personnel.
To begin with, the report said, cloud developers take risks, are more comfortable using open source technologies, are usually younger and even tend to be happier in what they do. By contrast, developers not working with the cloud tend to be team players instead of leaders, conservative instead of risk-takers, and iterators rather than innovators.
The top projects that cloud developers have been working on over the last 12 months include application integration, mobile sites and mobile applications, and intranets and internal web business applications. They use a wide variety of technologies, build for a wide range of platforms, and are much quicker to utilize new technologies.
Cloud developers, for instance, are more than three times more likely to be using Microsoft Windows 8 than non-cloud developers, while non-cloudsters are four times more likely to be using older versions of Windows.
These kinds of approaches by cloud developers to work and technology carry over into other facets of IT and business matters. Forrester said, for instance, that business and functionality metrics are far higher for cloud projects than for others. Twenty-two percent of cloud developers, for instance, measure success and status based on business value metrics, while only 5 percent of non-cloud developers do. Non-cloudsters were more likely to measure such metrics as features completed.
Hand-in-hand with the idea that cloud developers enjoy their work more, the survey found that cloud developers tend to spend more time coding on their own time, primarily for such reasons as keeping “my skills sharp by learning new technologies," because they "enjoy programming," or because they want to improve their productivity at work.
Sixty-four percent of cloud developers reported that they feel challenged on a daily basis, compared with 36 percent of non-cloud developers. Thirty-nine percent of cloud developers say it is easy to find funding for new initiative's tools, compared with 18 percent of the more traditional developers -- a discrepancy which could help account for cloud developers’ happier states of mind.
Yes, But Why?
The report does not address why cloud developers seem to have these traits of being younger, happier, more into their work and more eager to use new technologies. It is implied that cloud-based work attracts these type of people, and that, since it is still a frontier with pioneers sharing every new trick they learn, the environment apparently encourages the risk-taking and the focus on business results that the report found.
But one big reason could be that cloud environments tend to use open-source technologies more frequently than traditional developers, and open-source communities could be driving a significant portion of this energy.
In any case, this kind of culture is going to become more and more common, if not for any other reason than that this report, and many other indicators, point to a huge shift to cloud environments that will dwarf the current trend. In fact, it's hard to imagine a future when working with cloud environments is not part of the job description of virtually every developer. If that's the case, the portrait of cloud developers painted in this report outlines a promising picture.