Kubernetes adoption up, serverless down, developer survey says

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The Kubernetes container orchestration system has gathered momentum among developers, but adoption of serverless architecture has ebbed, according to a report commissioned by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Published December 20, “The State of Cloud Native Development” was based on a survey of more than 19,000 developers from 155 countries in late 2020 and early 2021 by research firm SlashData. The survey found that 5.6 million developers were using Kubernetes in Q1 2021, an increase of 67 percent compared to Q1 2020, when there were 3.9 million Kubernetes developers. Kubernetes was being used by 31 percent of all back-end developers, an increase of four percentage points over the previous 12 months. Among edge developers, Kubernetes usage increased by 11 points to 63 percent. Edge technology had the highest adoption rate for Kubernetes among all surveyed sectors.

The proportion of developers involved in serverless architecture fell from 27 percent to 24 percent, the survey found. Serverless computing involves the dynamic allocation of compute cycles via services such as AWS Lambda. The downward trend, the report theorized, might be due to the lack of flexibility of serverless solutions, such as companies being afraid to lock themselves into specific vendors. AWS Lambda continues to be the most popular serverless solution, used by 53 percent of serverless developers, though Google Cloud Run has gained adherents.

Overall, usage of cloud-native technologies has fallen among back-end developers in North America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East/Africa. The report noted there were 6.8 million cloud-native developers globally, an increase of 0.3 million, with 4.6 million using container orchestration tools and four million using serverless platforms, with an overlap of 1.8 million developers using both.

Previous CNCF reports from SlashData, from May 2020 and August 2020, counted 4.7 million and 6.5 million cloud-native developers, respectively. Meanwhile, the proportion of back-end developers using cloud-native technologies has declined by three percentage points, to 41 percent, due to the drop in adoption of serverless architecture. The growth in the cloud-native developer population has been driven by an increase in the total number of back-end developers, from 14.7 million to 16.6 million, the report stated. The cloud-native approach is exemplified by technologies such as microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs.

SlashData conducted its survey from November 2020 to February 2021. Of those surveyed, more than 3,800 participants answered questions relating to the development of back-end services and the technologies they used.

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