Eclipse IoT Surveys Developer Community

The Eclipse Foundation's IoT Working Group has published the results of its 2019 IoT Developer Survey, and though much has stayed the same since the last survey, a few things have changed.

The Eclipse IoT Working Group is a collaborative effort to create open source software for IoT solutions. Eclipse IoT is made up of more than 30 member companies and currently comprises 28 open source projects. Between Feb. 11 and March 8, the group surveyed 1,717 individuals online "to gain a better understanding of the requirements, priorities and perceptions of IoT developer communities," the group stated in the report.

IoT development continues to expand at a rapid pace, the survey's authors found. More than 80 percent of respondents said they are currently active in IoT or expect to be in the next 18 months. The key driver behind this growth: investments in predominantly industrial markets.

Security remains a top-of-mind concern among those developers. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said it was top of mind for them. 21 percent said connectivity was a key concern, and 19 percent cited data collection and analytics issues.

The list of primary IoT development languages also remained the same. Java, JavaScript Python and C/C++ are the most used languages among IoT developers participating in the survey. Not surprisingly, C is the most used on constrained devices, while Java continues to lead in Edge Computing and gateways, as well as cloud applications.

The top three cloud platforms respondents reported using this year for IoT are the same as last year: AWS leads the trio with 34 percent of the market, Azure accounts for 23 percent, and GCP owns 20 percent. "Public Cloud seems to be making gains at the expense of private Cloud and on-premise deployments of OpenStack, Kubernete and Cloud Foundry," the report's authors stated.

The survey respondents showed an openness to operating systems. Overall, Windows, FreeRTOS and no OS topped the list. Huawei's LiteOS made inroads this year (up from 2 percent to 5 percent), while no OS saw a significant drop (down from 20 percent to 11 percent) "IoT developers see value in operating systems," the report's authors stated, "which implement common features and let them concentrate on their business outcomes."

But when it comes to device operating systems, FreeRTOS was a clear winner. It dominated among developers working with constrained devices. The survey's authors also noted several standouts in this category, including: Contiki/Contiki-NG, MBed OS, RTOS OS and QNX.

Linux continued to dominate among developers working on gateways and Edge nodes (76 percent). Debian and derivatives (Raspbian, Ubuntu / Ubuntu Core) were picked by at least a third of respondents, the report stated. But Windows was a close second (56 percent).

The top three CPU architectures for constrained devices used by respondents are ARM-based, the survey found, with significant use of niche 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit MCUs. For gateways, it was ARM and ARM variants (70 percent) and Intel x86 and x86_64 (42 percent).

The survey's respondents picked the same three IoT security technologies: communication security (38 percent), data encryption ((38 percent) and JSON web token encryption or the equivalent (26 percent). The survey's authors noted that virtualization is starting to play a stronger role in IoT security.

And when it comes to communication protocols, the survey's respondents stuck with HTTP (49 percent), MQTT (42 percent) and Websockets (26 percent). The respondents likely use HTTP RESTFul web services, the report notes and MQTT was the strongest of the IoT-specific protocols. Websockets and HTTP/2 are also strong (around 25 percent) with CoAP usage significantly lower at 15 percent.

TCP/IP, WiFi and Ethernet topped the list of communications protocols among respondents. Satellite and Thread more than doubled year over year; usage of specialized connectivity solutions (LPWA, Zigbee, 6LoWPAN, Z-Wave, Satellite) came in between 8 percent and 15 percent each.

The survey also found (not surprisingly) that the Eclipse Desktop IDE was the most used development environment among survey respondents. The report notes that "The survey was heavily promoted on the Eclipse Foundation's various social media channels, the Eclipse Foundation and Eclipse IoT Working Group Web sites, as well as on the Eclipse IoT member company Web sites, social media platforms and communication streams." Visual Studio Code came in a fairly close second, and the report's authors noted a "remarkable year-on-year surge (23 percent to 32 percent) The free, open source editor Notepad++ took third place. The report also noted that 10 percent of respondents reported using the Eclipse cloud IDE, called Che.

Finally -- and there's really no surprise here -- the survey respondents named the Eclipse Foundation, the Apache Software Foundation and the Linux Foundation as "the most important organizations for IoT."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].