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Programmers take to the clouds

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Remote control for virtualized desktops

The analysts at market researcher Evans Data, which spends its days obsessing about what programmers are up to, have released their Open Source Software/Linux Development 2008 report. The data compiled in the report is based on 360 interviews that the company did with software developers, and despite all the hype about cloud computing, a fairly significant number of open source developers say they plan to deploy their applications as Web services on one of several cloud computing providers.

Maybe they were just putting the pollers on? The people of Samoa kept a straight face when telling boldface lies about their lifestyle to anthropologist Margaret Mead, so there is some precedent of a people spontaneously getting their story straight for the sake of a good laugh. (There are many others, such as mortgage-backed securities. But let's not go there.)

According to the polls from Evans Data, 40 per cent of developers who are working on open source applications say they will put them on a cloud infrastructure of some sort. Google's App Engine, which allows Python applications to be deployed on Google's Web server iron and hit Google's own BigTable data storage, was the chosen platform by 28 per cent of those developers.

Amazon's Web Services, which includes the EC2 compute utility, the S3 storage utility, and a bunch of other stuff, was cited by 15 per cent. Developers also cited clouds from Microsoft (Azure, still in beta), Salesforce.com (AppExchange), and IBM (Blue Cloud) as platforms they were looking to deploy their applications too.

"As costs increase for power, staff, and data center resources, more businesses are being attracted to the latest promise: moving more of the company's infrastructure and applications into a third-party provided cloud," explained John Andrews, president and chief executive at Evans Data in a statement flogging the report. "Many companies are using this model to not only reduce infrastructure costs, but [to] simultaneously increase their computational capabilities."

To help sell the study, er, enlighten us some more, Evans Data sprinkled a few more nuggets of data on the announcement.

Some 52 per cent of developers polled in November said they use a virtualized instance of Linux (presumably, this was meant for development and test, not production environments). Just a little more than half of the developers also said they use the MySQL database, controlled by Sun Microsystems but still open source, in some of their projects, and two-thirds report that they use a SQL relational database of one kind or another (and either open or closed source) as the backend of their applications.

One in five programmers also reported that they use the Flex programming language, which is a Web 2.0-style language that occupies the same niche as JavaFX, AJAX, and Silverlight, among others. ®

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