This week I spent a few days at RailsConf in Baltimore re-connecting with my developer roots, and it gave me a fresh perspective on what developers really think about cloud.


Although I’ve spent much of my time focused on the application layer in the past decade, it has been at the architecture and integration level for the most part – especially recently.  I’ve both personally coded (in PHP, don’t hate me) or led development teams that have built a number of large web and enterprise apps (in various languages) during that time.  I have attended all sorts of developer conferences and events throughout the years, and remember stacks of punch cards in school (showing my age).

Over the past 3 or so years that I’ve been heads down in the fast moving cloud world, nearly all of the developers I’ve dealt with directly (meaning not proxied to me by IT folks) were working on cloud projects of some kind and as such, were bullish on ‘cloud’.  It seems this vacuum has really skewed [my|our|the industry] perception of developers.

Cloud industry perception

Go to any cloud conference or event and everybody is talking about developers and how much they want to use the cloud.  It’s like they have taken on Ballmer’s personality… developers developers developers – I’ve even said it myself.  Lots of companies are building great tools for and around the developer community and entire movements have been started around them.  To the cloud industry, it seems to be mainly about the developers right now (that is changing though).  There are a few languages and frameworks that have gotten the most attention in the cloud world, and Rails is one of the most popular – so you would think Rails developers are in love with the cloud.


Now let’s switch over to my experience at railsconf.  Out of four days of talks/sessions, only two of them had ‘cloud’ in the title, and they were both in the ‘sponsored’ track (surprise surprise…).  Out of all the organic (non-sponsored) talks I attended, the only time I even HEARD the word cloud was in a talk given by one of the Heroku guys (again, surprise surprise…).  I spoke to a bunch of developers during the breaks and at lunch about their opinions on cloud, and to say it was ‘meh’ would be overstating it.

Cloud hate?

It wasn’t cloud hate, it was just a general perspective it’s all about the code and doing cool things.  One attendee told me he thought cloud was great because it lets him spend more time coding and less time worrying about where the app is running – but that he really didn’t care about all the cloud technology.  That’s a good summary of the vibe I got this week.


Should we (the collective ‘we’ making up the industry) care that the best and brightest developers in the hottest space don’t seem to care about all the cool stuff we’re building for them?  Probably not.  They’re using what we’re building, they like it, and they don’t want to go back to the way it used to be anytime soon.

Having said that, the reality that they see the primary value of cloud as a way to let them spend more time coding, and not much else, is powerful and we shouldn’t forget it.


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Notice: This article was originally posted at by Scott Sanchez and is his personal opinion.  Copyright 2011 Scott Sanchez, All Rights Reserved.


1 Response » to “The truth about developers: they don’t care about cloud”

  1. j_mccaffrey says:

    the ‘cloud’ is not enough

    As a Rails developer with several client apps deployed to cloud vendors like heroku, slicehost, amazon, and engineyard, and also leveraging ‘cloud’ tools like dropbox, google apps/docs, github, etc. I can tell you that your observation is spot on.

    I don’t react to the term ‘cloud’ as if its special anymore. Its just something I assume for any service, and all I really care is how the service can help me.

    I’m crazy about heroku, google app engine, engineyard’s new offering, and the free lite version you can get with Amazon AWS.
    I tell everyone to get a free account on these services and try stuff out. (set up a remote CI server on ec2 for free!)

    I start off most of my new clients on a free heroku plan, and usually deploy a demo app within hours of finishing a sales call. (sales close much faster)

    I love all this stuff, it lets us spend more time developing, and that’s why we’re all using it. But you are absolutely right. We just want to get back to coding cool stuff….knowing we can deploy it with ease.

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