Enterprise adoption of Node.js: Game changer or just a fad?
Node.js is scaling rapidly within the enterprise and changing the way that companies like PayPal, Intuit, LinkedIn, and Walmart Labs program their applications. While Node was once purely a development approach utilized by early adopters and startups, the benefits experienced through performance gains, more frequent application releases, and an expansive talent pool are all reasons why larger enterprises are jumping on board with Node.js. I’ll explore each of these reasons in more depth in this post.
Node.js really began to take off with developers in 2011 with the introduction of its package manager (npm), which made life easier for the growing Node community to publish and share libraries. While the Node community grew rapidly from 2009–2012, it mainly consisted of early adopters without a significant commercial presence. However, by 2013, developers at startups and larger web companies like Uber, LinkedIn, PayPal, and Netflix began to bring Node.js into their environments. In the last two years, Node.js adoption flipped to exponential growth as larger enterprises like Walmart Labs, Intuit, Yahoo, and Conde Nast began to adopt Node. In addition, the early adopters expanded their Node deployments to become core to their application architectures.
The chart below from Indeed.com maps the growth in demand for Node.js talent relative to other competing programming skills.
Where is this exponential growth coming from? Why is Node.js now beginning to proliferate within larger enterprises? Is this trend a flash in the pan or an early sign of something bigger? I personally believe Node.js has staying power in the enterprise for three core reasons:
- Enterprises want to build modern web applications with responsive UIs and distributed systems. Because Node.js is an asynchronous programming framework benefiting from rapid I/O processing, it produces speedy, responsive load times even for the most complex and highly concurrent applications.
- Enterprises want to stay competitive with early-stage startups by producing more frequent application releases. Node.js promotes modular development as opposed to monolithic application development, which helps companies quickly iterate app functionality. Additionally, due to its massive open source community, libraries, and tools available for Node programmers, the experience of building applications in Node.js continuously improves and cuts down time to release.
So, why does a VC have a strong viewpoint on Node.js? Drum roll… yes, I do have a horse in the race. Crosslink is an investor in NodeSource, the enterprise Node company. However, after our initial investment in NodeSource in early 2015, we have only become stronger in our conviction on the underlying Node.js market and its suitability for enterprise adoption. NodeSource provides enterprise-grade products and services that empower organizations to be effective with deploying Node.js in production, counting PayPal, Intuit, Uber, Yahoo, and the US Navy as customers, among others. With a new class of enterprise users rapidly moving their environments over to Node, there is a new set of requirements and demands that are placed on the open source project. A large company adopting Node.js will notice that it lacks a complete enterprise-grade toolset to keep applications secure, maximize development productivity, and provide the kind of transparency necessary across large development, ops, and executive teams. NodeSource fills this void with its products, services, and support.