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2012 Dev Predictions From a Gartner Analyst: Rise of Ruby, PaaS vs. SaaS, More

There aren't many of us who will be looking back on 2011 with a wistful sigh. But if my conversations with industry watchers this week are any indication, enterprise software developers have a lot to look forward to in 2012 -- and a couple of things to prepare for.

Gartner analyst Eric Knipp shared a few of his firm's beyond-2012 predictions in an e-mail:

  • By 2015, at least 20 percent of the Global 2000 organizations will use Ruby in opportunistic application development projects.
  • By 2014, 75 percent of the Fortune 1000 will offer public Web APIs.
  • Through 2020, attempts to displace browser JavaScript with proprietary client-side Web programming languages will fail.
  • Through 2014, 60 percent of the value of PaaS functionality will be delivered and recognized as SaaS revenue.
  • By 2015, aPaaS providers that do not offer differentiated SaaS will not be profitable.

"aPaaS" is Gartner's acronym for Application Platform-as-a-Service, which Knipp and fellow analyst Yefim Natis defined in a report as a "highly productive, easy to learn and use development environment that delivers business applications that are customizable, changeable, capable of implementing serious business functionality and, when deployed, offered with massive scalability, high-end enterprise-class (and beyond) performance and reliability, supporting massive amounts of data, all at SMB prices."

The implications of these prognostications for developers this year, Knipp said, are fairly straightforward and not to be ignored:

  • More JavaScript in more places. Expect to see more client-cloud implementations like that of Yahoo's Cocktails (which Yahoo describes as a mix of HTML5, Node.JS, CSS3 and JavaScript).
  • aPaaS will continue to provide a broader range of services. Expect to see serious players acquire context brokerage capabilities to expand the portfolio of services interesting to mobile app developers, for example.
  • Expect to "build the APIs first" in an increasing number of projects. You will start from the middle out, rather than designing the presentation or database layer first.
  • More polyglot programmers. We will start to value the jack of all trades more than the master of one.
  • Bonus -- Not in my predictions but others at Gartner spoke of it this year: We're All Developers Now. Citizen developer activities will accelerate.

To this list, he added another bit of advice: "When you're choosing aPaaS to build your app on, put a premium on ecosystem and ecosystem-oriented features (e.g. multi-tenancy management, billing and subscription management, marketplace, and so on). The last aPaaS men standing will be those who build the biggest portfolio of ISV offerings running SaaS in the platform."

(BTW: If you're not reading Knipp's blog, you should be.)

More predictions for 2012 from savvy industry watchers in upcoming posts.


Posted by John K. Waters on January 6, 2012