In recent years, there has been a trend in tech companies building their own development environments, which has led to a need for standardization across industries. This need has been driven by customer demand and the fact that non-tech companies also require standardized development environments. The challenges facing developers and teams around scalability, productivity, and security have been identified, with research suggesting that up to 75% of developers' productive time is spent setting up or debugging their development environment. This is an area where automation and standardization can play a significant role, freeing up developers to focus on more meaningful work.
Factors Driving the Need for Cloud-Based Development Environments
Cloud-based development environments address issues such as spin-up times, onboarding, configuration drift, and security concerns more effectively than on-prem solutions like VDI or Citrix, which often require developers to work through a terminal screen. Many large tech companies, including LinkedIn, Shopify, Uber, Peloton, Slack, and Stripe, had built their own remote development environment platforms or orchestration management platforms over the last two and a half years. This trend was driven by three key reasons: improving developer productivity, scalability, and security.
Challenges and Solutions in Standardizing Development Environments
Standardization can also be challenging, as it often imposes constraints on developers. The solution is to have a standard way of defining development environments that is not opinionated, allowing developers to work wherever they want while ensuring that the process is standard across the organization. While some developers prefer to work locally, cloud-based environments provide benefits such as instant preview environments for marketing and the ability to help others on projects more easily.
There are numerous competitors in this space, both direct and adjacent, including companies that utilize the cloud to enable developers to work more efficiently and those that offer browser-based editors. A standardized development environment allows for greater flexibility and efficiency, as developers can use their preferred IDEs while having the same development environment across both local and cloud environments. When it comes to developer tools, some competitors simply focus on developing automation and management of virtual machines.
Flexibility in Adopting Local and Cloud-Based Environments
To navigate the evolution of development environments, companies and developers should consider a flexible approach that allows for both local and cloud-based environments. It is especially crucial for highly regulated industries that require secure, standardized development environments. For smaller companies, considering configuration files for other environments such as Dev Containers can be an easy step towards standardization. For larger companies looking to strategize their shift towards standardized development environments, it may be wise to start with a small project team and see how it works out before making the transition company-wide.
Competitors in Standardizing Development Environments
When it comes to developer tools, there are various types of competitors in the market. "Recompetitors" are companies that offer a local host development experience which also allows users to run it in the cloud, providing additional features. These competitors may not follow standardized development environments, which is a trend that is gaining popularity. With the convergence of technology and critical mass, the time is right for standardized development environments.
Growing Importance of Standardized Development Environments in Collaboration and AI Integration
The importance of standardized development environments extends to artificial intelligence as well. With the rise of AI code creation, such as Copilot or Ghostwriter, a consistent development environment is necessary for these programs to run effectively. Utilizing AI to help with the standardization process is also a possibility.
5 steps you could take to start
Consider a flexible approach that allows for both local and cloud-based environments.
Use infrastructure as code to ensure everyone using or collaborating on code has the exact same development environment.
For smaller companies, consider configuration files such as containers or Nix as a step towards standardization.
For larger companies, start with a small project team to test before transitioning company-wide.
Utilize AI to help with the standardization process.
Standardized development environments are becoming increasingly important across industries. This is due to the impacts on productivity, scalability, and security, as well as customer demand and the emergence of AI code creation programs. Cloud-based development environments are proving to be more effective in addressing issues like onboarding, configuration drift, and security concerns compared to on-prem solutions.
Standardization can be challenging as it involves imposing constraints on developers. It is essential to have a standard way of defining development environments that is not opinionated to ensure developers can work wherever they want while keeping the process standard across the organization. In navigating the evolution of development environments, companies and developers should consider a flexible approach that allows for both local and cloud-based environments.
Infrastructure as code is a solution to make sure everyone using or collaborating on code has the exact same development environment. Configurations that use Dev Containers can make standardization easier for smaller companies. Meanwhile, larger companies will benefit from testing the standardization process with a small project team before transitioning to company-wide use. Additionally, using AI can help streamline the standardization process.
The implementation of standardized development environments will bring about great benefits across organizations. Having a standardized development environment facilitates collaboration among developers and enables the use of AI code creation. As the market for these environments grows, expect to see further advances in AI utilization to help with the standardization process.