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Open Source, Cloud, and AI Tech Most Trusted by Developers

Open source is being described as a "north star" technology, offering a roadmap for other technologies to follow.

Developers consider open source the most proven form of enterprise technology, with the cloud and machine learning (ML) rounding out the top three, according to a Stack Overflow survey of 2,000 developers.

The goal of the survey was to uncover the hidden stories within the developer community and help the larger tech ecosystem understand what makes this group tick.

In addition to being the foundation for most modern software today, open source is fueled by a culture of collaboration, sharing, and learning — which likely contributed to this halo effect in responses from the developer community and technologists alike.

"There is a hive mind approach and benefits of this technology, whereby open source is about many minds converging to establish a 'technical superbrain' that can outpace a seemingly never-ending onslaught of problems," explained Joy Cicman Liuzzo, vice president of product marketing for Stack Overflow. "With that type of bottom-up thinking, solutions to problems can truly come from anyone, anywhere, in any economic landscape."

Liuzzo calls open source "the north star" for all technologies, and notes it is viewed as both proven and having a positive impact on the world.

"Open source offers a roadmap for other technologies to follow," she explained. "It is defined by high levels of collaboration and community-driven learning, highlighting the importance of these attributes in fostering trust and widespread adoption."

Liuzzo pulled quote

While developers are certainly aware and appreciate open source technology, the average consumer or user of software may not be.

"The recent stats I've seen have said 78% of businesses use open source software, 70% of developers are working in open source to improve their skills, and more than 90% of developers rely on open source components in their proprietary applications," Liuzzo said. "That's an impressive scale for something built in a remote, asynchronous, and collaborative environment, and makes you wonder why so many organizations are pushing for people to return to the office."

Developers Also Trust Cloud Computing

Cloud computing and machine learning joined open source to comprise the three most proven technologies in the survey.

Stack Overflowchart showing impact of emerging technology

Cloud technologies are constantly evolving, and modernization has become an always-on IT endeavor — especially over the last few years with so many companies moving to hybrid and/or fully remote workforce, Liuzzo explained.

"Developers are central to this type of journey," she said. "As builders and innovators, they need tools to learn and keep their skills sharp as they help navigate their organization's digital transformation."

She added that the adoption of public cloud continues to grow, with many companies still in the process of deciding what to migrate off local servers.

"We see this every day across our own platforms as developers gather to share knowledge about AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud," Liuzzo said. "The reliance on these technologies will only expand over time."

In fact, Gartner predicts worldwide public cloud services will grow from $604.9 billion in 2023 to $1 trillion by 2026, with the fastest-growing segments of public cloud services including database management, business intelligence, security, and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

IT Pros Find AI Promising

The survey also indicated IT pros are willing to concede that while artificial intelligence (AI) isn't a proven technology as of today, the direction in which it is going appears positive and beneficial.

"Respondents were more skeptical of AI-assisted technologies in terms of their capability to show impact in the here and now but absolutely believe in its potential," Liuzzo explained.

The selection of AI-assisted technologies was the most popular response to the question of which technology developers believe is going to be the next one that everyone will use, while AI-assisted technology and machine learning also scored highly on a question of which technologies they want more hands-on training with, she said.

"There is certainly a lot of opportunity, but we must keep in mind it is early and a rapidly evolving space," Liuzzo said. "This technology offers an opportunity for efficiency and for streamlining workflows that may unleash all sorts of new capabilities and skill sets for users."

Liuzzo noted that all of this is in line with the fact that all the forms of AI as a technology sector will be one of impact and importance.

"However, the community is looking for vendors to be cautious, strategic, and thoughtful in how they may implement it to ensure it delivers on its promise," she said.

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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