By Jillian Mirandi
The developer ecosystem will be defined by the cloud/mobile platform. The cloud market is at the crux of technological maturity and enterprise adoption, pushing tailored cloud environments to the forefront of customer demand. While the majority of customers are happy with out-of-the-box applications (apps), the need for customization both vertically and horizontally is growing.
Developer ecosystems play a critical role in the expansion and long-term success of cloud vendors. Regardless of how much functionality developers seek—including access, platform, and deployment models—or how much a single vendor can develop on its own, a single vendor cannot cover the entire landscape that customers need. This provides the opportunity for small development shops and individual developers to build and monetize applications. With the rise of mobile and API-first delivery, larger cloud vendors increasingly invest in their developer ecosystems to attract and retain the best and broadest range of developers.
Leading developer platforms in terms of revenue are offered by Google and Salesforce.com. 2013 investments in mobile, APIs, SDKs, and tool kits will continue through 2014, with added improvements in developer consoles, incentives, partnerships, and open-source support.
In terms of mobile, Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) predicts the majority of cloud providers will seek strategic alliances with dedicated mobile Back End as a Service—mBaaS—vendors such as AnyPresence, Kinvey, StackMob, and FeedHenry to cost-effectively deliver mobile back ends to enterprise app developers. However, the largest cloud players, including Salesforce.com and Microsoft, utilize scale to organically deliver an end-to-end solution. The most successful vendors will develop or acquire mobile platforms that easily enable development on their mobile platform.
Investments by Leading Vendors
Google is an early-to-market cloud platform vendor with Google Apps Marketplace, but with limited enterprise penetration. Similar to the vendor’s overall cloud approach, Google Apps Marketplace is made up of more point products and tools than solutions. However, TBR believes that the app store will follow Google’s cloud strategy lead and begin to have more of an integrated-solutions focus by the end of 2014. Google App engine supports Go, PHP, Java, and Python.
Over the past few months, Google has added support for developer language PHP, expanded its mobile back-end functionality, and partnered with traditional tech vendors to support App Engine adoption. Google App Engine support of the PHP programming language—which moved into a generally available, limited preview feature in October of last year—will increase adoption and loyalty among developers due to PHP being among the most popular programming languages for Web app development.
Following the launch of readymade mobile back ends for Android developers in conjunction with Kinvey in June, Google extended its App Engine Mobile Backend Starter service to support iOS developers in 3Q13. Cloud Endpoints—Google’s service for App Engine developers to manually build mobile back ends—also reached general availability in November.
Google’s efforts to drive App Engine adoption in the enterprise space will be supplemented by its recently announced partnership with Dell, which will provide joint customers with cloud consulting and assessment services through the Dell Cloud Partner Program starting this year. As a result of the partnership, Dell will support the Google Cloud as a piece of its hybrid cloud deployment model spanning multi-vendor public and private clouds through Dell Cloud Manager—formerly Enstratus.
By investing in value-added platform areas such as developer APIs, mobile back-end services, and programming language support for PHP, Google successfully drives app developer loyalty, which will in turn drive wholesale adoption of its Cloud Platform suite. The revamped Cloud Console user interface, introduced in October 2013, simplifies Cloud Platform developers’ ability to integrate consumer-facing services such as Google Analytics, Google+, and Maps with Google’s Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service offerings through the introduction of APIs, which will continue to be a key developmental focus area.
As an early-to-market cloud platform vendor, Salesforce.com has a large ISV developer ecosystem, which offers the market approximately 2,200 apps with more than two million installations across lines of business and industries.
Salesforce.com’s native language is Apex, and Heroku supports a number of developer languages including Python, PHP, Ruby, Scala, Node.js, and Clojure.
Last Fall, Salesforce.com launched Private App Exchange. By enabling IT customers to create customized app stores of corporate-approved applications for employees, Salesforce.com will help increase customer security and governance. Private AppExchange was developed to help Salesforce.com improve competitive positioning of its platform offerings through integration with other services such as Chatter and Identity.
The company is also utilizing platform and code-based acquisitions to improve Heroku1’s capabilities. Salesforce.com acquired cloud-based database startup CloudConnect in November 2013, integrating the vendor’s staff and developer tools for accessing customer data into Heroku1. Also in November, Salesforce.com launched Salesforce1, an additional platform layer improving the connection and integration of Salesforce.com’s pre-built apps, AppExchange apps, and customer customizations.
Salesforce.com and Google continue leading the charge in expanding their ecosystems by making it easier to develop and deploy apps on their platforms. Both companies are adding and opening APIs around mobile capabilities, social and analytics, and enabling built-in mobile deployment.
However, vendors such as Microsoft, IBM, ServiceNow, and SAP are catching up. The latter mentioned vendors have broader enterprise adoption, and therefore may become more attractive to enterprise developers looking to expand and monetize the enterprise.
The adoption of cloud and mobile platforms continue to define the developer ecosystem. The increasing need for customization across vertical and horizontal markets paves the way for innovation among both stalwart and emerging cloud platform solutions providers to simplify app development and deployment. SW
Jillian Mirandi, analyst, Software Practice, Technology Business Research, Inc., is responsible for reporting on software and cloud landscapes. Her research focuses on customer and vendor deliverables around go-to-market strategy, investment strategy, geographic strategy, competitive intelligence, and product comparison.
Apr2014, Software Magazine