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AWS Edges Azure for Analyst's Top Cloud Dev Platform

It's a two-horse race for the top "Full-Stack Public Cloud Development Platform" as revealed in a Q2 2018 analysts report from Forrester Research.

The "Wave" report compares seven top providers -- Alibaba, Oracle, CenturyLink, IBM, Google, Microsoft and AWS -- but only the latter three are in the "Leaders" category, with Microsoft's Azure cloud and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform grouped at the top.

More and more application development and delivery (AD&D) pros are using cloud platforms these days, Forrester says, to take control of factors such as DevOps toolchains, languages, frameworks, containers, function-as-a-service, databases, security, myriad infrastructure services concerning storage and networking, and much more.

With more Web and analysis applications becoming common on the cloud via new development projects and app migrations enabled by increased breadth and depth of services, providers are distinguished from one another in part by their migration services and tools.

And, as in many other studies, AWS and Microsoft distinguish themselves in a class all of their own.

"Forrester's research uncovered a market in which AWS, Microsoft, and Google lead the pack," the report says. "Oracle and IBM offer strong alternatives. Alibaba and CenturyLink lag behind."

As in many of those other studies based on different criteria, including this from Canalys and this from Gartner, AWS has a slight lead in the two-horse race.

"AWS generates almost three times as much annual revenue as its closest competitor (Microsoft) and is rapidly growing its stable of development services, customers, partners, and data centers," Forrester says. "Already a favorite of hard-core coders, AWS is now reaching for a broader development community with preconfigured services, service bundles, and higher-level tools like SageMaker for machine-learning (ML) apps and Quicksight for business analysis and reporting."

Forrester also cited Azure as a distinctive offering in the machine learning arena with its Azure ML service, though it admitted Microsoft trails AWS in natural language processing.

"Microsoft has been a fast follower of AWS, which is a strategy that propelled the vendor into a solid second position in public cloud development platforms," Forrester said. "As the industry's pace in services innovation slows, Microsoft has used its expertise in coding tools, database, and business reporting to create important product distinctions from AWS. Microsoft also drives cloud platform adoption by selling add-ons to its deeply embedded enterprise products — Office, in particular. Azure has a first-rate developer experience, which represents a dramatic turnaround for the vendor in just under two years."

Meanwhile, Google is a new entrant in the "Leaders" section of the Forrester Wave report, though separated from the top two. "Very strong identity and access management, security, database, and AI/ML services are drawing increasing numbers of traditional enterprise customers" to the Google Cloud Platform, the research firm said.

AWS was also named the No. 1 platform for cloud software development in a 2015 Forrester report that broke down developers into three types: coders, DevOps pros and rapid developers.

Cloud powerhouse AWS ranked No. 1 closely followed by Microsoft for leadership status in all developer type categories except for rapid developers, according to that report. For those speedsters, Salesforce, Mendix and OutSystems were the leading platforms as ranked by Forrester. "AWS retained a solid advantage for the DevOps and coder segments -- and as an overall choice for CIOs," the research firm said.

In its new Q2 2018, 31-criteria evaluation released last week, Forrester used vendor surveys, product demos and customer reference surveys. The research firm emphasizes that its report is meant to be only a starting point in the evaluation of an AD&D platform most suitable for any particular enterprise.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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