In a turbulent economy and an uncertain job market, open source jobs remain a consistent source of career growth for technology professionals. From scripting programming languages to open source server operating system to mobile applications developers, open source continues to offer opportunities for job seekers.
Shravan Goli, president of Dice.com, offers these statistics based on jobs posted on Dice.com from August 2012 to August 2013:
The number of available jobs for Python programmers grew 22 percent year-over-year, from 3,578 to 4,360.
The number of available Ruby on Rails positions grew 15 percent year-over-year from 2,307 to 2,654.
While the number of available Perl positions fell from 5,025 to 4,880 (a 3 percent decline year-over-year) and PHP positions remained stable at 3,619 available jobs in 2012 and 3,627 available in August 2013, the numbers show a continued demand for open source developers.
Counting on the Community
Goli says that the open source's community approach to development is what makes it so appealing, because it can accelerate an organization's technology development and adoption.
"Ten years ago, open source was all about Linux and Linux-based technologies," Goli says. "Now, with the cloud, social media, big data and analysis, search and mobile applications all maturing so rapidly, it makes more sense for companies to leverage the community effort to accelerate development and deployment," he says.
Having a community of developers devoted to improving the code and continually adding functionality can help businesses shorten the adoption cycle and more quickly leverage new and emerging technologies to their benefit, Goli says.
"Just think how much impact the Cloud, big data, mobile applications, software-as-a-service (SaaS) models have on business. Companies that can quickly adapt and leverage these technologies will reap the benefits much sooner than those who don't," he says.
Open Source Is Everywhere
"When you look at the technology stack, open source is everywhere, from the front-end -- including newer technologies like HTML5 -- all the way into the middle and the backend server operating systems," Goli says. "Programming languages are certainly one aspect that remains in demand, but search technology, the cloud, big data using Hadoop, security - it's everywhere," he says.
Bret Tartaglino, regional operations manager for Waltham, Mass.-based MSP mindSHIFT Technologies, says many of his clients use open source technologies to not only accelerate technology development, but to get around exorbitant licensing costs.
"For organizations with more than about 20 or so servers, it's much more cost-effective to hire skilled open source developers and pay for their expertise than to pay for proprietary software licenses," Tartaglino says. "Since open source software is freely available, you don't have to pay twice - once to buy software licenses and a second time for personnel with the skills to work with proprietary software," he says.
Tartaglino says that he sees many clients using open source to write customized code that works to connect homegrown applications and database management solutions to standard, legacy applications like SQL.
"If you're working with customers' specialty applications and need to hook into these databases, you can easily create a home-grown solution that will seamlessly connect to those databases using open source languages and tools," he says.
Because many of his customers' deployments are a hybrid of software and services from companies like Microsoft and their own custom applications, he says he sees the need for both skillsets continuing to be in demand. "As long as your people also have the skills to create the visual front end and run the commands on the backend, you're set."
It's not just traditional technology companies hiring for open source positions, although, according to blogger and open source expert Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, 100 percent of vendors at the recent OSCON were hiring for open source talent.
The demand for open source skills has expanded into other firms not traditionally thought of as tech-savvy, like General Electric (GE), Home Depot, and Ticketmaster, says Goli.
"Open source skills are expanding quite a bit out of specifically technology companies into other, nontech firms," says Goli. "Mostly, these big firms are looking for people with skills related to big data -- to take their huge data streams and analyze them -- and related to the cloud and related services technology," he says. GE, Walmart, Home Depot, Northrup Grumman, Morgan Stanley; even printing firm RR Donnelly has an opening for a PHP developer, Goli says.
Whatever industry you're in, if you're an open source developer, it seems the market's wide open. "Open source is everywhere, and we don't see this market slowing down any time soon," says Goli.