It’s a good time to be in technology.  According to the December 2012 Dice hiring survey, 64% of hiring managers and recruiters surveyed expect to hire more tech employees in the first six months of the year, versus 47% for non-tech roles.  Life looks even better for tech professionals with open source experience.  

That’s because the industry’s hottest trends are being driven by open-source software.  Big Data, cloud computing and mobile are all intimately connected to open source.  Hence, it’s not surprising that of the top-10 tech skills in demand on, listed in order of how fast these keywords are growing in online job postings, six of them are explicitly open source:

Used with permission from

PaaS, which isn’t uniformly open source, has prominent open-source offerings like VMware’s Cloud Foundry and Red Hat’s OpenShift helping drive the market.  Hence, as much as 70% of the hottest job trends can be argued as involving open source.

It’s Not Just Open Source

Yes, I know.  There are plenty of proprietary technology companies faring quite well.  Apple, for example.  But let’s face it: you’re not Apple, and even Apple is facing increased pressure from open-source Android, which now dominates smartphones and looks set to dominate tablets and anything else Apple cares to reinvent.  In mobile, then, you need to know Android as well as HTML5 application frameworks like Ember.js, Sencha, Backbone, jQuery Mobile or others.

In Big Data, demand is high for know-how in a range of open-source projects, as Dice and Wikibon note.  In fact, while we’ve long had Big Data solutions from brand-name vendors like Informatica and IBM, it’s the open-source projects like Hadoop that have really made Big Data a big deal by bringing serious data processing and data storage (predominately NoSQL) to low-cost commodity hardware.

Cloud computing, too, is largely an open-source phenomenon, though the 8,000-pound gorilla known as Amazon is hardly a big open-source contributor.  But that doesn’t mean Amazon hasn’t benefited from open source: it runs a half million Linux servers (mostly customized Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Xen and other open-source technology.  Much of the other cloud providers, however, rely expressly on open source, including Eucalyptus, Citrix’s CloudStack, OpenNebula and OpenStack, among others.  

Training Made Easier

Which leaves us with just one problem: how to get trained on all this great open-source software?  According to the Dice survey, one of the big problems hiring managers have is in finding qualified personnel for all these tech jobs they need to fill:

Which isn’t really a problem in open source.  The code is there for anyone to download, learn from and improve upon.  This aspect of open source – the lowering of hurdles to access great code – perhaps more than any other, will do more to increase the pace of innovation in the tech industry over the next decade.  In 2013, our problem is not access to training on the tech that will give us better, higher-paying jobs.  Our problem is choosing where to launch our first GitHub fork.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Matt Asay