Lessons learned from 100 companies that use Node.js
By Cian O'Maidin

nearForm was founded at the end of 2011. It is now the world’s largest dedicated Node.js consulting and open source tools company. Over the space of four years, we have gained deep insights into the adoption of Node.js in the enterprise.

In this blog post, I review what has happened in the enterprise Node.js market from 2013 to the present. I then take a look at the market at it is now, broken down into the seven main segments in which nearForm operates. The latter section uses data gathered from 100 nearForm clients.

The story of Node.js is a story of digital transformation

In 2013, I published a post on ‘Why Node.js is becoming the go-to technology in the enterprise‘.

Back in mid-2013, Node.js was not yet a sure-fire bet. However, the signs were there: massive companies in the financial, retail, e-commerce and media industries were beginning to use Node.js as a means to enable rapid innovation.

2013 to 2015: a market explodes

Incumbent companies like PayPal were sitting on a legacy stack and were coming under pressure from startups – like Stripe and Square – while eyeing a public offering. Node.js was introduced in PayPal to replace a calcified heavyweight stack of technologies based on Java and C++, and as a part of a drive to transform the company, putting it on an attack vector.

Media giant Condé Nast was likewise moving from traditional print to becoming a digital powerhouse, with the goal of unifying a number of their brand platforms into one.

The Mail Online, the highest traffic news website in the world, was also making a transition to enable rapid delivery. Their tactic was to replace a monolithic Java stack with Node.js and a modern microservices architecture.

Netflix, perhaps the hottest new company in the media world, was similarly on the attack, leveraging Node.js to enable rapid delivery and innovation at the front end.

2015: market analysis and segment-by-segment review

Fast-forward to 2015, and the number of corporations using Node.js has risen dramatically in line with the increased numbers of module downloads recorded by npm. As for nearForm, it has grown 600% in just two years – a clear sign of the market demand.

Market analysis

The biggest lesson we at nearForm have learned from the Node.js eco-system is that Node.js is being adopted by businesses because it enables them to outpace their competitors by delivering new products and features more quickly. We see Node.js replacing Java and .NET across our customer base.

Node.js is part of a technology refresh that is taking place across the enterprise at present. The drivers for Node.js adoption are increased competition for traditional businesses by new technology companies, such as Uber versus traditional taxi companies, Netflix versus Sky, and Stripe versus traditional banks.

Traditional companies are being challenged by ‘valley tech’. In response, they are adopting the same technologies as their competitors. nearForm is part of this wave, helping traditional enterprises to adopt Node.js and transform themselves into technology companies.

Segment-by-segment review

Here is some data collected from our customer base, based on our seven largest target segments.

Enterprise software – our biggest market

The enterprise is being disrupted. With this disruption, enterprise software vendors are having to make big changes to their offerings to keep up with the innovation coming from the open source community. The pervasive nature of JavaScript across web and mobile is driving change and the ability of Node.js to enable full-stack developers is driving efficiencies in the enterprise. On average, 4% of developers at public companies in this segment and 25% of developers at growth stage companies are using Node.js.

Media – our second biggest market

For nearForm, this market is more than 90% comprised of market-leading media companies who are innovating with Node.js. These companies are all early adopters of the technology, having adopted Node.js in 2013 and 2014. On average, over 16% of developers at these companies are working on Node.js full-time.

Financial, payment, travel, e commerce, IoT

Financial: incumbent bricks-and-mortar financial institutions are being disrupted by fintech start-ups. Many existing financial companies started using Node.js in 2014. Fintech start-ups have an average of 25% of developers using Node.js, while incumbent institutions have an average of 2.5% of developers using Node.js.

Payments: market-leading payments companies are using Node.js to maintain their market leadership and defend against new players. An average of 13% of developers in this segment are using Node.js.

Travel: this industry is in a state of transformation. The market-leading travel companies are innovating with Node.js. An average of 16% of developers at public companies are using Node.js, with an average of 28% at start-ups.

E commerce: market leading e commerce companies have an average of 15% of developers using Node.js. 2015 is the year when mainstream brands in this segment are starting to use Node.js as a part of their toolkit.

IoT: all of our customers in this category are start-ups and they all use Node.js, not least because it enables them to get to market quickly. 48% of developers are using Node.js.

Retail e commerce and education

Retail e commerce: this market largely consists of public companies who are transitioning to online. An average of 6% of developers at publicly traded retail e-commerce companies are using Node.js. The delivery speed that Node.js brings, along with its ability to attract talent, are critically important factors that will contribute to the long-term success of public retail companies.

Education: traditional education publishing companies are starting to use Node.js. Approximately 2.9% of developers in this segment are using Node.js as a front end layer. Education start-ups, on the other hand, have up to 80% of developers using Node.js.

Logistics and telco

Logistics: Node.js is being used in the logistics industry to innovate and deliver new business initiatives. This segment comprises a combination of start-ups and public companies. An average of 13% of developers at public companies use Node.js, with start-ups averaging 19.5%.

Telco: 2015 is the year of Node.js in the telco sector. New initiatives are being delivered at a number of global telcos with Node.js. In 2014, telco vendors started using Node.js to build new systems for their industry, with 6% of developers using Node.js.

Healthcare and high tech

Healthcare: healthcare startups are using Node.js in a significant way.  An average of 33% of developers in this segment are using Node.js. The primary use case is to enable rapid innovation.

High tech: Node.js has been in use in the high tech sector since 2012, with an average of 2.4% of developers using Node.js.

Games, pharma, business services and energy

Data on the games, pharma, business services and energy sectors is all based on a single customer in each segment. Interestingly, all are public companies, while two are less than 10 years old and are in significant growth stages. Two are more than 10 years old and are in a state of transition as they face increasing competition.

About the data in this document

100 nearForm customers were surveyed to produce the above data.

Please note that the data is not statistically valid; rather, it is intended to provide an indication of growth and momentum in the Node.js market.

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