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Protocol Cloud: How developers really want to work

Protocol Enterprise

Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: The technologies software developers really want to use, how supercomputing is making its way onto the cloud, and the best story I've ever heard combining cows and cloud computing.

The Big Story

Stacked and ranked

Each year Stack Overflow, a popular software-development resource guide for both new and experienced coders, publishes the results of a comprehensive survey of developer habits, preferences and desires. This year's survey results arrived Wednesday morning, revealing which tech trends are catching on with the development community and which are fading into history.

Over 65,000 developers around the world were surveyed for this year's edition. The results cover programming languages, development frameworks, and databases, among other things.

  • JavaScript is still the most widely used programming language, reflecting the huge number of web applications created over the last decade. Ruby, a language popular during the so-called "Web 2.0" era of dynamic web development, has fallen out of the top 10.
  • Rust has won the hearts of developers: It's the most loved programming language for the fifth consecutive year. Scripting languages like Perl and VBA were the least-popular languages last year, but there's money to be made from discomfort: Perl developers have some of the highest salaries across languages.
  • More developers want to learn how to use Python compared to any other language that's not already in their tool chest, with Rust's popularity also placing it high on this list.

The explosion of competition among database providers was a defining aspect of the last decade of cloud computing development. So what databases do developers want to use as a building block for their applications?

  • Two open-source databases released in the 1990s — MySQL and PostgreSQL — are the top two most widely used databases among survey respondents. Microsoft's SQL Server comes in third.
  • But two relative newcomers cracked the top three "most loved" databases, with Redis taking the gold medal and Elasticsearch the bronze. It's no coincidence that those are also two databases that have been at the center of a debate over how open-source databases should be sold by big cloud platforms.
  • IBM won a category in this year's survey — although the fact that its DB2 database ranked as the most-hated database isn't great news.
  • Another newer open-source cloud database contender, MongoDB, ranked as the database most developers would like to learn.

The results validated some of the strategic moves made by Microsoft over the past few years, too.

  • 82% of survey respondents use GitHub as a collaboration tool, and a little over half of developers are creating their applications on Windows PCs.
  • ASP.NET was the "most loved" web framework, and although it trails jQuery in terms of overall usage it is gaining ground and increasingly used as part of a package of various frameworks used to build modern web sites.
  • And .NET Core took the top spot as the most-loved "other" framework. (Infrastructure management tools Chef and Puppet win the dubious honor of "most dreaded" in this category.)

The survey covers a lot of additional ground, including salary information, demographics, and the confidence that developers have in their jobs and the overall industry. But the survey was conducted in February before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was truly felt around the world, so some of that confidence might not be present in next year's survey results.

Life comes at you fast as a software developer, but the overall stability of the most-used technologies and programming languages over the last few years suggests that software development is maturing after a huge reset thanks to the growth of mobile and cloud computing over the last decade. Still, 75% of developers said they learn a new language or development technology each year, which means staying current remains important.

  • On the other hand, some things never change: Last year 2.1 million people visited the "How do I exit the VIM editor" page on Stack Overflow.


Nasdaq Cloud

Tailored to meet client demand, the Nasdaq Cloud Data Service (NCDS) provides real-time streaming of exchange, index, fund and analytic data. Data is made available through a suite of APIs, allowing for effortless integration and a dramatic reduction in time to market for customer-designed applications.

This Week in Protocol

COVID and the cloud: Supercomputing is often associated with nuclear weapons research or oil and gas discovery, but it's being applied by a consortium of tech companies and medical researchers to fight the pandemic. Cloud providers are increasingly part of this conversation, as we saw with Microsoft's announcement last week at Build and this look at how AWS is working with several groups from Protocol's Emily Birnbaum.

Sound of science: Along similar lines, IBM has been working with government agencies and other researchers on applying supercomputing to a variety of difficult tasks. "Every time we have had a large crisis in the world, it has been an opportunity, and a necessity, to imagine and sometimes create new institutions," IBM's Dario Gil told Protocol's Mike Murphy.

Less WTF for WFH: As many have said, you're not working from home, you're working from home amid a global pandemic — and parents trying to balance all that while trying to raise children need help. Software tools need to adjust when striking a balance between employee productivity and creating a nanny state, and this experience is likely to reshape the way enterprise software is developed, Protocol's Lauren Hepler reports.

Five Questions For...

Dave McJannet, CEO, HashiCorp

What's the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting their first tech job?

Discover But in all seriousness, be genuinely curious: Learn about the tech, not just the application. Fluency in the concepts that underpin the applications will enable you to see the patterns and opportunities over your career. If you embrace the learning and dig into how the product works at a technical level, you'll never regret it.

What has changed the most at your company over the past two months?

We were already a remote-oriented company (85% of employees are remote) and so our rhythms and rituals are largely unchanged. But having kids at home was a big adjustment for many of us and took a bit of time — that was a huge transition.

But the biggest change is that it caused us to really focus on our priorities which was very healthy. When a company is going through periods of rapid revenue growth it is impossible not to have a bit of operational looseness creep in, and so this has forced us to be much more unforgiving about our priorities. We continue to hire and invest but we're doing so in a much more targeted way and with a focus on our top three priorities and nothing more.

What will be the biggest challenge for cloud computing over the coming decade?

The cloud model is no less complicated than the on-prem model of computing, it just has different concepts. As a result, while it is easy to quickly build an app on AWS or Azure, the real challenge for a company is "how do we industrialize the application delivery process to cloud in a repeatable way?" Specifically, how should a company address the challenges of security, networking and spinning compute up and down safely in this new model?

Ironically these are well understood problems that the early adopters figured out years ago and is why products like Terraform, Vault, and Consul are used so broadly. But there is an enormous skills gap. This is no different from previous platform transitions: When we went from mainframe to the client-server era, skills were also scarce. But this time around there is so much pressure on companies to deliver new digital applications that the skills gap is much more pronounced.

That is the single biggest constraint to cloud in my opinion … there doesn't appear to be much of a constraint on the demand side: There is an infinite number of apps that any company would like to build.

Will the pandemic usher in a new era of remote working, or will we all come back together when it is safe to do so?

It has clearly opened up everyone's eyes to the possibilities of remote work and a lot of that will stick. In particular, it highlights that some of the longer-cycle functions like Product and Engineering may even work better remotely. But my guess is that we'll revert back to in-person but with a much higher acceptance of the remote-friendly model. As we've discovered at HashiCorp this requires a slightly different way of working to make it work (more async communication, for example), but that is one of the real positives that will come out of this experience.

Mac or PC?

I worked at Microsoft for years but when I joined the startup ecosystem I was forced to go Mac and have never looked back. I'm a committed Microsoft Office user, though — you can't take away Excel from a former professionally licensed accountant.

Around the Cloud


Nasdaq Cloud

Tailored to meet client demand, the Nasdaq Cloud Data Service (NCDS) provides real-time streaming of exchange, index, fund and analytic data. Data is made available through a suite of APIs, allowing for effortless integration and a dramatic reduction in time to market for customer-designed applications.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

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