These Are the Top Languages for Enterprise Application Development
And What That Means for Business
Enterprises are now free to deploy a polyglot programming language strategy thanks to a decrease in emphasis on which language developers must use. As companies transition from legacy software to more agile, flexible technologies, it is easier for development teams to find the right tool for the right job. Cloud-native practices enable developers within large companies to pick their preferred language or, more importantly, the language that best supports their functional needs. All of this can be accomplished while minimizing the historically heavy operational burden of supporting a variety of development languages. As a result, application development and operational teams are able to move faster together.
What does this mean for business? Large organizations are no longer restricted by the need to hire a developer fluent in any specific language. While development teams may certainly prefer a specific language, they may be comprised of multilingual developers capable of programming in multiple languages. This widens the pool of available talent for businesses looking to build out their development teams—what company these days is not trying to do this?
More and more, businesses are employing a polyglot (and a multi-platform) strategy to meet their exact needs. The flexibility of cloud-native practices enables this movement away from a monolithic approach and towards a world of computing that is flexible, portable and interoperable. Adopting a multilingual approach is yet another step towards improving a business’ velocity—when it comes to development, production and capital.
Through years of industry research1, Cloud Foundry Foundation has tracked the languages used most frequently for application development among enterprise developers worldwide. While there is consistency among which languages are the most popular across the enterprise developer landscape, there are certain languages which are particularly dominant among specific audiences—based on region, company size, and more.
Now We're Talking
In contrast to our findings, however, RedMonk found Python and PHP used more frequently than C# and C++, but only marginally. Indeed, RedMonk’s Stephen O’Grady writes that “the numerical ranking is substantially less relevant than the language’s tier or grouping.”
Overall, IT Decision Makers (ITDMs) report using over 25 total languages—but over half of those languages are used so infrequently as to receive a single digit percentage. In November 2017, ITDMs reported their language preferences, the top six of which are used a significant portion of the time, while many other languages being used for application development are employed at lower rates.
Who's Talking Too?
So which languages are preferred by specific audiences?
In general, the larger the company, the more languages used. Therefore, we see above average usage of Python and C# among very large enterprises compared with the rest of respondents, as these companies are using multiple languages. This current embrace of multiple languages is something of a new phenomenon as, historically, larger companies have practiced tighter control over processes, particularly in production. As mentioned earlier, this polyglot approach is enabled by the move toward cloud-native practices.
While there are many languages in play, there is a slight consolidation over time for how many languages are chosen, suggesting that developers are focused on selecting their best option rather than open evaluation.
The Language of Business
Since 2015, ClearPath Strategies, a strategic consulting and public opinion research firm, has conducted Cloud Foundry Foundation’s Global Perception Study (GPS), a series of deep-dive research on topics critical to cloud and developers. The results in this report come from the seventh round of this global quantitative and qualitative research in that series.
The qualitative portion of the GPS consisted of six focus groups conducted in February 2018 in three locations with enterprise developers—two groups each in China, Europe, and the United States. These developers were heavily screened based on size of company (enterprise), awareness of cloud computing and specific products, and tools used.
The quantitative portion of the GPS consisted of a global survey of IT Decision Makers from March 19th to 28th. The survey consisted of 601 respondents from a leading global online panel provider. Respondents were selected from the panel provider based on geographic and role-based quotas, as well as screening questions based on role in IT, decision-making role, company size, and how long they have been in IT. Selected respondents were further screened based on self-reported IT knowledge and attentiveness to survey questions. These interviews were distributed across four major IT Decision Maker roles: Developers, Ops, IT manager and Line of Business.
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