Top Programming Languages and Developer Tools for Cloud Computing

Susan Asher | Monday, November 28, 2022

Top Programming Languages and Developer Tools for Cloud Computing

Over the past decade, cloud computing has grown to become one of the largest and most lucrative segments of the global and American IT sectors. Cloud computing already generates over $400 billion in annual global revenues, and this number is expected to continue to grow for years to come.[1] To put this growth in perspective, cloud computing generated $145 billion in 2017 and significantly less than that in 2010.[2]

Today, roughly 95% of all data center traffic originates from the cloud, compared to less than 5% for traditional data centers.[3] Put simply, current (and aspiring) developers need to familiarize themselves with foundational cloud computing skills ASAP.

The decision to focus on cloud native development might be something of a no-brainer, but deciding which programming languages, frameworks and developer tools to get certified in isn’t as simple. Do you want to focus on something widely used and transferable like Python or Java, or would you prefer to become proficient in a more narrowly defined language like the Google-created Go language?

The path you take, and the tech certifications you obtain, can have a tremendous impact on your job prospects and career development.

To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of the most widely used and useful programming languages to get certified in for aspiring and current cloud developers in 2023. In no particular order, here they are:

11 Key programming languages and frameworks for impactful cloud development

Python

As one of the fastest-growing and most widely used programming languages on the planet, skill in Python is a great option for cloud engineers looking to launch, or pivot, their careers. In addition to being a full-stack high-level programming language that can be used throughout the entire development lifecycle, Python boasts a massive collection of third-party modules and support libraries. Compared to many other programming languages, it’s also accessible and relatively easy to learn, with a highly engaged online community for troubleshooting and resolving issues.

Though people tend to think of Python as a newer language due to its increased popularity over the past 10-15 years, it was first released in 1991. In recent years, its simple syntax and widespread popularity have influenced the development of other programming languages, including Go. This, combined with a vast assortment of readily available support, makes it a great gateway into cloud computing.

Python might be beginner-friendly, but it's not just for beginners. Large organizations ranging from Wikipedia to NASA all use Python, as do many social media companies and some of the most prominent cloud platforms in the world, including AWS and Microsoft Azure. Leveraging its immense development capabilities, Python is one of the best coding languages for rapidly growing fields like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics.

Overall, Python is known for its impressive accessibility, versatility, and support. There are other programming languages that might be better equipped for specific cloud development tasks, but as a broad, generalized option, you can’t go wrong with Python.

Java

Another popular programming language is Java. First released in 1995, this high-level general-purpose language continually ranks among the most widely used programming languages. It’s not hard to see why. Java is versatile, modular and platform-independent. This means that Java applications can run on both Windows and Linux as well as other popular operating systems. Every major cloud platform provides a software development kit (SDK) for Java.

Java’s syntax is similar to the C and C++ languages that influenced its development, albeit with less low-level facilities than either. It is an object-oriented language, with all code written inside classes and no operator overloading support. TIOBE, which publishes a monthly list of the most popular software, ranked Java in October 2022 as the 3rd most widely used programming language in the world.[4]

Like Python listed above, Java is considered relatively accessible and easy to use when compared to other programming languages. Developers frequently take advantage of Java’s security and portability to code scalable enterprise cloud applications. Some examples of major companies that use Java include Uber, Google and Netflix.

When it comes to cloud computing, Java’s multi-platform ability to run the same program across multiple systems makes the end-to-end development process much smoother. Robust security is another point in its favor. Java is one of the best cloud development languages for beginners, and it has a well-known certification path. A Java certification attests to your knowledge and skills and unlocks new work opportunities.

Microsoft .NET Framework

.NET refers to both Microsoft’s proprietary .NET Framework and its free, open source cross-platform successor. The language interoperable framework includes a large class library known as the Framework Class Library (FCL). It is compatible with many different programming languages, including C++, C#, F# and Visual Basic .NET. Python programmers can also use the .NET framework via IronPython.

Though developed by Microsoft, .NET is compatible with all major cloud platforms. Skilled .NET developers can build scalable cloud applications for AWS and Google Clloud. With that said, many Azure products, features and capabilities were designed to run .NET natively. For cloud developers that exclusively work with Azure and rely heavily on Microsoft software, .NET offers additional value.

Released alongside .NET back in 2002, ASP.NET is an important tool that builds upon .NET’s existing web application development capabilities with additional editing features, libraries and templates. It’s an open source language interoperable web app framework that can be used for speedy, scalable cloud development. ASP.NET Core offers a modular cross-platform version.

Another key advantage to the .NET framework is the ability to customize and modify open source code on GitHub. On top of that, there is a significant online community available to help fix bugs and troubleshoot issues. Though applicable to all cloud platforms, these benefits are even more evident when developing natively on Azure. Regardless of your primary platform, .NET familiarity is an excellent skill to acquire for cloud developers in 2023.

Angular

Developed by Google, Angular is an open source web platform that is increasingly popular with cloud developers. Angular is a complete rewrite of the discontinued AngularJS framework and has introduced several key differences. One of the most impactful is the emphasis on modularity, with core features functioning independently to reduce the risk of minor errors derailing the code.

Cloud applications developed in Angular are built around modules, metadata, templates, directives, services, data binding, and dependency injection. Dynamic loading allows Angular to start up independently, discover new libraries, and access new features, significantly speeding up start times and simplifying cross-platform cloud development.

Unlike its Javascript-written AngularJS predecessor, Angular is written in Microsoft’s TypeScript. The developers recommend using this free, open source programming language when developing web applications in the platform. A superset of JavaScript, TypeScript was originally designed to simplify some of the complexities in JavaScript’s code. As such, TypeScript has all of the core capabilities of Javascript and can be used to develop JavaScript applications. Angular can also be used with CSS and HTML.

For cloud developers, the biggest advantage that the Angular framework offers is the ability to quickly test and develop applications without complex code or heavy load on CPUs. It’s a great option for teams of all skill levels.  

React

When it comes to building user interfaces, one of the most beneficial tools in a cloud app developer’s arsenal is the React JavaScript framework. Also known as ReactJS, it is a front-end library for creating eye-catching user interfaces. Maintained by Meta (FKA Facebook) as well as a very active online community, React is free and open source. Many of the top companies in the world rely on it for scalable, cost-effective development, including Tesla, Instagram and Walmart.

According to a Stack Overflow survey from a few years back, React is the preferred web framework among developers.[5] It offers rapid development speed, improved efficiency and extensions that enable easy custom component creation. React’s speedy rendering can drastically reduce app and website load times, helping improve SEO to get noticed on Google and other search engines

One of the biggest selling points, however, is the emphasis on UI (User Interface). Capabilities and features are important, but above all else, cloud native web and mobile apps need to be user-friendly and easy to use. The ReactJS framework’s declarative components, reusable components and virtual Document Object Model’s (DOMs) enable the streamlined creation of engaging user interfaces.

Entry-level cloud developers will also be interested in the framework’s large online community and relative ease of use. React only deals with the view layer of a website or app, giving JavaScript developers a much easier entry point than other options like Angular.

Spring

Spring is a lightweight, open source framework created for Java development. Leveraging core features that are compatible with all Java applications and web application extensions for the Java Enterprise Edition platform, Spring provides developers with the ability to build scalable, secure apps quickly. The popular Spring Cloud microservices framework brings these benefits to cloud developers creating cloud native apps on Azure, AWS and other cloud platforms.

With Spring, developers can define remote procedures without remote APIs, run database transactions without transaction APIs and solve complex technical problems in real time. The Spring Framework contains a collection of sub-frameworks, including Spring Web Flow, Spring ORM and Spring MVC. In addition to Spring Cloud, the Spring framework also serves as a base for Spring Boot, and Spring GraphQL.

Some of Spring’s unique benefits and advantages are pre-defined templates, loose coupling, constant transaction management, dependency interjection and aspect-oriented programming support. Combined, these functionalities help contribute to a well-organized cloud development ecosystem that enables speedy, non-invasive development as well as simple testing.

Becoming proficient with the Spring framework, and with Spring Cloud in particular, is a great way to differentiate yourself as a cloud developer.

Go

Some developers call it Go, others call it Golang: Either way, this is one of the best programming languages for cloud development. This robust, modern language was designed and developed by Google in 2009. Since then, it has grown in popularity and significance. It was named the TIOBE index language of the year in both 2009 and 2016, and was ranked inside the top 10 most widely used programming languages as recently as March 2020.[6] It is currently ranked 11th as of October 2022.[7]

At the time of its initial development, the primary goal of Go was to improve upon the perceived deficiencies of languages like Python, JavaScript, and C while incorporating the positive aspects of each.[8] As a result, Go combines the run-time of C with the ease of use and accessibility of Python and JavaScript. In addition to Google, which uses Go internally as well as to build the Google Cloud platform, some other prominent companies that use Go for cloud native development are Uber, Soundcloud and Atlassian.

Go enables the reliable, speedy development of secure, scalable apps via microservices and boasts impressive degrees of package management and concurrency support. It can be used across most cloud platforms, but it is most effective when developing cloud native apps for Google Cloud.

If you anticipate working on Google Cloud development in any capacity, obtaining Go skills is one of the best things you can do for your career. Even if you are focused more on AWS or Azure, it is still a useful programming language to learn.

Rust

Over the past few years, one of the fastest-rising players in development has been Rust. Designed by a Mozilla Research software developer and ultimately sponsored by the company, Rust is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language that emphasizes memory safety and performance.

Its built-in ability to provide safe access to hardware and memory without a runtime or garbage collector enables developers to catch and address unsafe code before it reaches the user.[9] More importantly, Rust provides this additional level of security without sacrificing speed or increasing memory consumption. This combination makes it a great fit for cloud developers looking to reduce the frequency and prevalence of bugs without slowing down or otherwise impacting performance.

The primary drawback of Rust is its inherent difficulty. It has a steep learning curve that can be challenging for entry-level developers to grasp. In the short term, organizations might suffer a decrease in immediate productivity that can scare them away from this otherwise beneficial programming language. This arguably has led to Rust being less widely used than it should be based on its capabilities and features. With that said, many of these once-hesitant organizations are now realizing that Rust development leads to secure, stable cloud native apps.

As more and more companies begin to see the light when it comes to Rust, developers with active Rust certifications are going to be in high demand. If you have the skills to master the intricacies of this language, this can lead to lucrative job opportunities for years to come.

Kafka

Written in Java and Scala, Kafka is an open source event streaming platform that processes data feeds in real time across multiple systems. Originally authored by LinkedIn and developed by the Apache Software Foundation, Kafka enables speedy, scalable development by capturing and recording streaming data in an immutable commit log that can then be accessed and added to.

According to Apache, over 80% of all fortune 500 companies use Kafka in some capacity and the platform has been downloaded over 5 million times.[10] It’s a trusted, secure and highly available source of permanent storage, with a robust library of open source tools, built-in stream processing and the ability to connect with almost everything, including the stream processing services of the major cloud platforms. Kafka also gives developers the capability to access and process event streams in many different programming languages.

Kafka is capable of handling millions of messages per second, expanding/contracting storage based on need and delivering low latency messages within 2 milliseconds. One of the few drawbacks to Kafka is the difficulty of setting up, deploying and managing clusters on-site, but this can be easily offset by accessing Kafka as a managed service via the cloud.[11]

Developers and software engineers who master the intricacies of Kafka can open the doors to countless new opportunities, especially when they are also skilled in the commercial implementation offered by Confluent.

Confluent

Built by the creators of Kafka, the Confluent platform provides many of the same data streaming capabilities without the demanding monitoring and management requirements. Confluent simplifies the connection between Kafka infrastructure and data sources, serving as a central source of truth for all historical and real-time data. In addition to enabling databases and file systems to access Kafka via the Kafka Connect API, Confluent also serves as a Kubernetes operator.[12]

Confluent is the best option for cloud native development on Kafka. The platform provides direct access to a serverless, cost-effective and highly available cloud development ecosystem that’s currently used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies.[13] Essentially, Confluent turns Kafka from a demanding tool with significant overhead and management requirements into an open source, enterprise-ready cloud infrastructure solution for scalable growth.

Like Kafka above, Confluent is already a major player in the cloud development ecosystem and it’s in the perfect position to expand on this success. Familiarizing yourself with Confluent (or expanding upon existing skills) is highly recommended.

Selenium is an open source tool used for automated browser testing. It has the capability to perform browser compatibility tests using scripts from a wide assortment of popular programming languages, including the ones mentioned in this article.

Local browser testing infrastructure can be inflexible, unscalable and expensive, and typically lacks capabilities required to run adequate tests. The Selenium framework is different. In addition to being a SaaS model with no overhead that only requires you to pay for what you use, testing with Selenium on the cloud leverages the power of parallel testing to unlock more complete coverage.

In addition to these performance and cost benefits, Selenium also has WebDrivers for automating GUI tests on Chrome, Firefox and other leading browsers as well as a sizable online community for troubleshooting and support.

At the end of the day, enhanced testing capabilities lead to the release of better-performing products. Selenium is a no-risk, low-barrier-to-entry tool that can drastically improve the efficacy, efficiency and quality of the web applications you develop.

The best cloud development programming languages and tools depend on your project requirements and career goals

When it comes to cloud development, choosing where to focus your skill-building can be something of a chicken-and-egg situation. You can analyze the current job market in your region, look for the most in-demand skills and obtain the right certifications to land the job. Alternatively, you can focus on improving your proficiency with certain programming languages and frameworks and then scan the market for desirable openings that value your new skillset. 

Either way, the explosion of cloud native development opportunities all but guarantees that mastering any of the tools, programming languages and frameworks above will put you on the path to long-term, sustainable success.


[1] Statista, “Public Cloud Services Market Size 2017-2023”, April 2022. Source

[2] CloudZero, “Cloud Computing Statistics,” October 2022. Source.

[3] Cisco, “Cisco Global Cloud Index 2016-2021,” February 2018. Source.

[4] TIOBE, “TIOBE Index,” October 2022. Source.

[5] StackOverflow, “Developer Survey 2019,” 2019. Source. 

[6] TIOBE, “The Go Programming Language,” October 2022. Source.

[7] TIOBE, “TIOBE Index,” October 2022. Source

[8] Stanford University, “ Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium,” April 2010. Source.

[9] Tech Target, “Rust Rises in Popularity for Cloud Native Apps,” August 2021. Source.

[10] Kafka Apache. “Company Website,” November 2022. Source.

[11] Google Cloud, “What is Apace Kafka,” November 2022. Source.

[12] Confluent, “Company Website,” November 2022. Source.

[13] Confluent, “What is Apache Kafka,” November 2022. Source.

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