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.
“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 percent of decision makers building or planning these. Thirty-nine percent of development shops are mobilizing employee intranets and 29 percent are readying mobile collaboration software. Fifty-one percent 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 percent and 36 percent, respectively). While Google Android was targeted by 50 percent of mobile developers. Windows Mobile and RIM remained popular, but Symbian development was chosen by only 8 percent of respondents, the analysts said.
Overall, in-house developers anchor most mobile application development efforts, with nearly 80 percent 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 most likely to deploy applications to the cloud (24 percent), although services firms are also aggressive adopters at 19 percent. Developers at healthcare companies seldom use the cloud today, with less than 5 percent developing, testing, or deploying cloud applications.
Clouds of choice among developers include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, which is favored by 27 percent of Eclipse developers; Google App Engine, preferred by18 percent 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 percent of enterprises and 21 percent of SMBs use both platforms. But interest in “open Web” technologies is growing.
“HTML5 is certainly one of these, with 60 percent 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 percent of development professionals, while 51 percent use open source as a hedge against vendor lock-in,” Forrester analysts said. But only 22 percent 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 percent in 2007 to 50 percent in 2011.”