Are Cloud Developers Really That Different? Yes.
To an IT leader a cloud developer can easily look like the enemy. They don't do what you say, they cause havoc by circumventing your IT rules and building new services and capabilities on public cloud platforms and seem to take orders not from you but from the business unit. Are these perceptions reality? Well, according to the 2013 Forrester ForrSights Developer Survey, yes. But they are also some of your most productive, happy and loyal developers too.
The survey shows that less than a quarter of all enterprise developers are using cloud platforms today. Examining the first movers, as self-identified in this survey, we found significant differences in the behavior, attitude and reporting structure of these members of your IT team. Cloud developers are risk takers who are empowered, more comfortable with open source technologies, building the new systems of engagement and tend to be happier in their work. They aren't just experimenting either; they are putting applications into production on the public cloud platforms and are doing so with traditional programming languages via agile, modern application designs. Forrester clients can now download a toolkit report providing a snapshot view of the data from this compelling survey (in Microsoft PowerPoint and PDF formats) that shows what distinguishes these developers from the pack.
As we have stated in prior reports on these employees, cloud developers are indeed more closely aligned to the business than your organization and are driven to leverage the cloud for greater productivity and better skills and needs alignment. They are often the reason you already have a hybrid cloud environment – their number one use of cloud computing is for application integration. They are using the cloud to build mobile applications and myriad internal applications as well – so it's not all public-facing stuff.
Part of what the clouds provide to them you can't, which is easy access to a broad set of technologies, languages and services. Cloud developers reported significantly higher adoption of these things nearly across the board. This isn't a call to action for you to re-examine your enterprise architecture. Instead view it as an acknowledgement that cloud services add differentiated value to your portfolio. Embrace them rather than viewing them as competitive with your internally provided services.
It also behooves you to learn from your cloud developers. They are happier, more productive and have better relationships with the business side than your non-cloud developers. In an era where IT's relevance is being questioned, these leaders are showing the way forward that your entire department should mimic. This doesn't mean you should try to turn your whole IT department into cloud developers but instead means you have role models in your midst that are building bridges to the business. Learn from what they are doing that is meeting business needs.