Microsoft's investment in developer supplements for its Azure cloud environment is paying off: Azure is the leading cloud among developers, with 36% of 400 surveyed using it in some fashion, according to developer surveying firm Evans Data.
The results might get lost in the clutter of almost daily cloud survey announcements, but for the fact that Evans Data tends to attract independent, including open source-oriented, developers to its online surveys.
In the past, Microsoft spokesmen have been somewhat skeptical that Evans Data surveys reached a balanced sample of the developer population. Case in point: a 2003 survey that showed developers turning away from Windows in favor of Linux. Indeed, some of Evans' results have seemed to favor Java and other open source developer communities over Microsoft's Visual Studio and its .Net language set.
With this survey, Microsoft may see some payback for its heavy investment in putting developer services into Azure. Second to Windows Azure was Google Storage at 29%, which offers developers five GB of free storage for an initial project. Amazon Web Services was third at 28%. Evans Data simply aggregated AWS as a whole, rather than divvying up S3 storage or EC2 compute engine.
[ Want to learn more about what the previous survey showed about developers' attitudes toward the best cloud computing environment? See VMware's Cloud Foundry Ranked Top Developer Platform. ]
Microsoft has an inherent advantage in an Evans Data-style survey now because its large .Net developer community is concentrated on Azure, while Java, Ruby, or PHP developers are spread across many different clouds, including AWS, Salesforce's Heroku, or VMware-compatible, public infrastructure-as-a-service sites that remain out of sight in a developer survey.
Evans Data announced the results of its biannual cloud survey while providing a minimum amount of backup data for public consumption. Ben Hanley, senior analyst, said data sought via several InformationWeek questions "was very expensive and each data point is proprietary." Evans Data, like other research groups, sells its reports; in recent years they've sold for $995 to $10,000.
The languages most frequently used by developers participating in the survey were: Java, 64%; C++, 60%; C#, 58%; and PHP, 49%. Developers typically work with more than one language at a time, with one language tending to dominate, at most, 50% of their efforts, explained Hanley.
Microsoft has encouraged C# and other .Net language users to go to Azure by making familiar toolsets in the enterprise compatible with similar tools on Azure. It first announced Azure at its Professional Developer's Conference in Los Angeles in mid-November 2009. Since then Microsoft has provided an installer for tools that can be used in Azure that can detect which version of Visual Studio a developer group is using, then install tools that are compatible with that version. That compatibility makes it easier to invoke Microsoft's IIS Web server and other components for applications.