Choosing the right Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) – or not

The emergence of cloud native development and containers has redefined how software is developed. But not all organizations have the resources or expertise to set up the required infrastructure to support a containerized application. Luckily, cloud vendors offer Containers-as-a-Service to help developers to capitalize on the benefits of cloud native development. 

All three leading cloud providers have CaaS products but choosing the right one can be a challenge. While everyone has different requirements, it is always beneficial to understand what solutions others are using and why, to help inform decisions. 

Based on research from /Data’s recent Developer Economics survey, we have discovered that there are a few factors that drive developers to choose one CaaS over another: 

  • familiarity with tools and languages
  • integration with other systems
  • support and documentation 
  • ease and speed of development. 

While there were other reasons for developers to consider when adopting a platform, the percentage of developers that considered these four factors important is noticeably different across the three leaders. Some of the other sixteen factors that are tracked in the research  include:

  • pricing
  • community
  • learning curve
  • suitability and feature set
  • performance 
  • scalability


Not all CaaS platforms are selected for the same reasons though. Developers that chose AWS Elastic Container Service were more likely to choose it because of its integration with other systems. This is a reason to choose AWS ECS for 34% of developers using it, compared to 29% and 28% for Azure and Google. Amazon not only has a vast array of tools and services, they also have a robust partner network. The options are so great they have their own service marketplace and have even released a Cloud Map service to help developers discover and manage it all. 

Developers tend to favor Google Container Engine (GCE) because it is easy to use and well documented. Forty five percent of GCE developers chose it in part because of the support and documentation and 36% because of ease and speed of development. We tend to find that developers are consistently happy with the support and documentation that Google provides to their developer community. This satisfaction is an important reason for Google Container Engine users to choose the platform. 

For Azure Container Service, developers like the fact that they can use the tools and languages that they are familiar with. Azure developers are 7 and 12 percentage points more likely to choose Azure Container Service for this reason than Amazon and Google respectively. Our research shows that Microsoft developers are relatively brand loyal so Azure has made it easy for developers to use Microsoft tools for container development and management. Azure has enabled developers to develop using Docker containers and Visual Studio, tools to deploy code to Azure Container Service with a simple command. They have also made it possible to deploy Docker containers to Windows Servers. Finally integration with Active Directory enables loyal Microsoft developers to use existing authentication policies and technologies .

At the end of the day, most developers are looking for a platform that is easy to use and fits with their current strategy and infrastructure, whether it is though integrations, support, or the ability to use the tools that they are comfortable with. 

Containers: Is it really a choice of either or?

While each solution has unique benefits, our analysis also found that many developers were using more than one leading CaaS and in some cases three. Seven percent of developers using a CaaS were using all three of the leading platforms while 46% were using two.


Our data verifies what you may already suspect based on your own experiences: more than half of backend developers are pursuing a multi cloud strategy, choosing not to commit to a single provider. 

There are a number of benefits to a multi-cloud solution that are driving this trend. IT organizations can avoid vendor lockin if teams develop for a multi cloud environment. This approach forces developers to build without relying on vendor specific services, reducing switching costs. Multi-cloud approaches also enables organizations to optimize their infrastructure. Developers and operations pro’s can leverage the strengths of each cloud depending on the requirements of various workloads and applications. Greater resilience is also a key benefit to consider. This is especially important in denial of service attacks where compute resources can be overwhelmed with fake requests. With a backup cloud ready and waiting, workloads can just shift to the backup cloud.

The choice of either one CaaS or the other will become even less relevant in the future as leading vendors are all standardizing on Kubernetes. Amazon and Azure are promoting Kubenetes-specific CaaS offerings to focus more on Kubernetes as the underlying orchestration engine. Azure is actually migrating all its users to the Kubernetes service. With Kubernetes the standard orchestration engine, migrating apps and container across cloud providers becomes much easier.

We are also seeing Amazon and Azure working to make it more convenient to develop using containers and Kubernetes. Both firms are offering clusterless or serverless Kubernetes services such as Fargate from AWS and Azure Container Instance. These solutions enable developers to just deploy containers without having to worry about servers or clusters. This approach will make it easier for developers but the additional level of abstraction also reduces flexibility and increases switching costs. 

Amazon’s open sourcing of Firecracker, the micro VM that supports the serverless platform Lambda and Fargate, will be another interesting development to watch. This may prove to be Amazon’s response to Kubernetes but for the serverless market. While still a ways off this could lead to a serverless ecosystem that is just as flexible as the container landscape.

What do you think?

Do you feel strongly about the container solution you are using? 

Or perhaps you feel poorly about certain other containers. 

Let us know about it and have your voice heard by taking the Developer Economics survey.

Platforms Tools

[ Infographic ] The State of the Developer Nation Survey – Tools & Technologies featured

The State of the Developer Nation Survey (H2 2016) was by far the largest in participation. The best way to illustrate this is by an infographic, highlighting important facts and figures. Further down you  will be able to find out the total number of respondents and the countries of their origin as well as all the development areas covered and the  number of tools featured per development area.

Clicking  on the Infographic will redirect you to the full list of tools falling under 7 different development areas namely: Desktop, Mobile, Web, IoT, Cloud, AR/VR and Machine Learning. In total there are 21 categories under all development areas which amount to a total of 226 tools.



News and Resources

News round up – Razer launches new fund for VR & gaming start-ups

Welcome to DeveloperEconomics’ weekly news roundup. In this edition, Blackstorm raises $33.5m for a ‘post-app store”, Razer launches a new fund for VR and gaming start-ups and Kony releases a new survey on the challenges of wearable development. Read on for the full news rundown.

Blackstorm raises $33.5m for ‘post-app store’ platform

Blackstorm has raised $33.5 million for what it calls a “post app store” solution, letting developers share apps outside of typical store fronts. Blackstorm offers a universal IDE designed to create apps that are shared across different distribution channels, such as messaging apps and mobile browsers. The company says its goal is to power “the infrastructure to trade and distribute software to all the post app-store platforms.”

Aruba announces platform to accelerate enterprise IoT adoption

HP’s Aruba has released the Aruba Mobile First platform, which aims to build a dev eco-system around its ArubaOS operating system. Aruba says the platform, which incorporates ArubaOS 8, lets third party devs quickly improve apps or create new ones based on its wireless networking technologies. The platform also collects data from IoT and mobile devices and customises networking functions dynamically in real time.

Google issues Nougat security update

Google has released a security update for Android Nougat. The update fixed a vulnerability that could enable remote code execution on an affected device. However, Google added that it’s had no reports of active customer exploitation or abuse of the fixed issues.

Korean firms consider legal action over Apple’s API policy

A group of Korean financial tech firms are reportedly launching a complaint to state regulators against Apple’s closed API policy around NFC functions. The companies complain that Apple is blocking providers such as Samsung Card and BC Card from accessing the NFC features. A similar complaint was previously lodged by Australian banks with regulators in the country.

PerfectlySoft releases Perfect 2.0 framework for Swift 3.0

PerfectlySoft has released the latest version of its server-side development framework for Swift 3.0. Perfect 2.0 features support for additional datasources, such as Redis and Filemaker, as well as “significant” performance and scalability enhancements. The company says Swift is “evolving extremely rapidly” and its framework helps developers keep up with the changes.

AWS SDK for C++ now available for production use

Amazon has released version 1.0 of its AWS SDK for C++. The SDK has received a number of improvements following developer feedback, including an improved Transfer Manager and symmetric cryptography support. The SDK also now follows semantic versioning so devs can upgrade within the 1.x series without breaking their build.

InfluxDB version 1.0 releases

InfluxData has released version 1.0 of its InfluxDB open-source time-series database. Influx DB was written in the Go programming language and is already being used by companies to monitor network infrastructure, security, container infrastructure, solar panels, and more. InfluxData says the database has been in development for nearly three years.

Box releases updates to attract more developers

Storage platform Box has released a series of updates aimed at developers. The platform now supports annotations, watermarking and new content types. Devs using the JavaScript SDK can now benefit from HD video, 3D models, VR files and 360-degree content. Box is also releasing a UI Kit that makes it easier to integrate elements into their web apps.

MySQL 8.0.0 Milestone Release is available

MySQL have announced that their 8.0.0 milestone release is now available for download. In their blog post, the engineers have outlined the most significant changes, some of which address problems that have plagued MySQL. The source code is available at GitHub.

Razer launches $30m fund for VR, IoT and gaming start-ups

Gaming hardware company Razer has launched zVentures, a new fund for investing in start-ups focused on gaming, VR, robotics and IoT. Razer is looking to fund early-stage start-ups with investments ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. The fund is based out of San Francisco and Singapore.

Survey highlights top challenges around wearables development

Kony has released a new survey looking at the challenges around developing apps for wearables. According to the survey, wearables will be “commonplace” in the enterprise by 2020 and 78% of devs surveyed said they are working on 2 wearable apps or more. Forty percent said the lack of communication between designers, stakeholders and developers is the biggest challenge for wearable development.



Confessions of a BlackBerry developer

The BlackBerry developer initiative

It’s been almost 2 years since the first beta release of the BlackBerry 10 SDK. Back then, RIM decided to launch the “happy developer” initiative, which was comprised of two parts. The first was targeted at some of the largest software houses and the second, at the long tail of developers. The first part was successful, since most of the big software houses are now supporting BlackBerry10 either by building native apps or by porting their existing Android apps into BlackBerry World.


The second part of the initiative, which was aimed at indie developers and hobbyists, is a different story. It seems to me that BlackBerry tried their best, shipping beta devices all over the world, getting the developer relations team on the road, in order to help developers face-to-face, giving incentives like the 10k$ commitment (money that was delivered every month, just as promised), and, most importantly, engaging with all developer communities or individuals from around the world 24/7.

The need for change

BlackBerry went through some difficult times during the past 2-3 years. The company seemed to be unable to get it right, and the negative media attention wasn’t helping. The BlackBerry 10 launch was not as successful as the company would have liked.. The legacy BlackBerry devices were outselling BlackBerry 10 devices quarter after quarter,..
A change was sorely needed in the company’s direction and plans. Cue John Chen. Once Chen was named CEO he brought a whole new set of ideas to BlackBerry, and a new plan of action.
Success comes after a company becomes viable and profitable at the same time. Under the new leadership, BlackBerry started adhering to timetables and deadlines and showing all signs of following a specific plan.

There’s just one thing that did not change, and that’s their commitment to developers. Yes, they are shorter on staff (the developer relations team was merged into another team under Martyn Mallick), the VP of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, is now in charge of QNX cloud, aka Project ION. But the tools are still getting updates, and the roadmap, which is more important in my opinion, is active, showing that there is a plan for the BlackBerry 10 platform. BB 10.3 is now just around the corner new devices are on the way, and the future looks a little brighter for a company that went through hard times but now looks ready for a comeback!


There’s also been a change in the central message that BlackBerry is attempting to communicate to developers. When BlackBerry 10 was first introduced, this message was “Flow-Connect-Extend”. It was all about the core basics of the new platform.

For the 10.2 update the message was changed to “Adapt-Sense-Understand”. BlackBerry had more features available for developers, such as headless mode (i.e. apps running in the background), and use of geolocation in apps. Now this message has changed once again, and it’s all about the Internet of Things (project ION). We still don’t know too many details, but it has to do with big data in a secure environment (QNX cloud) that can be used by developers to create a whole new breed of apps.

The decision

Back to reality. As a developer targeting BlackBerry 10 myself, I realize that publishing an app is a twofold process.
The first step is developing the app. BlackBerry offers a completely risk-free environment, with fully engaged support and tool options. During the past couple of years, the SDK has been updated many times, each cycle an improvement over the previous one.

The second part is what comes after publishing the app. This is where success/time spent in part 1, takes place. Success means different things to different people. It might be measured in terms of money earned, number of downloads or even a high rating for their app in the BlackBerry World app store. The truth is that developers don’t have many tools at their disposal to reach their goal, whatever that may be, and BlackBerry’s current status in the top markets is not helping improve this situation..

But what about the countries and regions in which BlackBerry is still a best-selling handset manufacturer, such as Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria and the Middle East? It might not be as easy as it sounds to target specific markets. Let’s take a look at the distribution of downloads and revenues around the globe (I’m using my own app as an example).

Downloads vs. Revenue maps of a freemium app with more than 125k downloads (May 2013 – May 2014)


It’s clear that BlackBerry has to improve its standing in major markets. Many think the main reason for low device sales in key countries is the lack of apps – but maybe it’s actually the other way around. Perhaps we have a formula that looks something like this: device sales -> more users -> more profit for developers -> more developers -> more apps
At the end of the day, engaging with BlackBerry is going to be a personal decision. There are some important parameters still missing from the BlackBerry platform, which might be keeping many developers from migrating to, or at least adopting, BB 10. A lot of these parameters, however, are not strictly related to actual development, i.e. coding.

But developers should keep two important factors in mind: BlackBerry 10 is still one of the newest OSs out there, which means there’s a lot of room for growth. Also – BlackBerry still is, and will continue to be, a leader in enterprise solutions, which is translated as a strong brand name. This combination indicates that there’s potential for BB10.

If I were to give developers some advice on whether to adopt the platform, I would say go for it. Built it or bring it – i.e. either go native or bring over your Android app. The tables may turn sooner than you think.