Friday, December 5, 2008

Linux certification article

Here is an article by Steven Vaughan-Nichols that includes some information he collected from different sources on LinkedIn. I thank Steven for including a few comments that I made. Hopefully, you will find it valuable, as it includes some good information from sources here and abroad.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Punto Informatico article about Linux Jobs

Punto Informatico Interview with Brent and Lukas about Linux Jobs

Migrating abroad sometimes is the only solution when your skills can’t be spent in your country or you just simply aim at a better income and benefits, this is expecially true for Open Source experts, we’ve got a double interview with Brent Marinaccio [] and Lukas Chaplin [], managers of two Linux-oriented job agencies, the former in the USA the latter in Europe pointing out pros and cons along with useful tips:

PI: What’s the current market share of *nix jobs? What’s its growth rate and what does affect it the most?

BM: I can not tell you the exact market share of Linux jobs in the United States, however, I can tell you that it has had explosive growth over the last 5 years. Probably nearing growth rates of 20-30%+ on an annual basis. As far as what affects that growth, at the moment the focus is heavily on the economy.
Overall, a downturn in the economy might assist Linux and open source software continue its growth against other platforms based on value. But, if the number of overall IT jobs does reduce here in the United States, Linux positions will be affected, but to a lesser degree than other areas of technology.

LC: The growth rate for Linux/Open source jobs is literally exploding in Europe. Yet one must distinguish between companies using open source software and companies developing open source software, the latter still being too few for my taste. This high acceptance, evolving from the good work all the people within the community are doing to spread the word about Open source in general, is probably the main carrier for the success.

PI: Could you name top three cities and companies for a Unix geek to work in?

BM: Instead of cities, I will provide you with areas. The area that has the most Linux jobs here is the United States is Silicon Valley. I am sure that is not a big surprise. Another area of the country that produces a decent amount of Linux and open source positions is the Pacific Northwest. Thus, Seattle and Portland are doing quite a bit of work in the Linux area. Lastly, Boston is by far the biggest area of open source development on the east coast of the United States. On the company side, there are a multitude of companies and sectors that are utilizing Linux. As far as the biggest employers of Linux engineers by numbers, the large players are IBM, Intel, Red Hat, Novell and Oracle. But, that changes as nearly every large technology company is gaining a strong presence in Linux with the obvious exception of Microsoft. But, they too have been increasing the number of Linux professionals they employ.

LC: It’s hard to answer that question without mentioning other places. For example Scandinavia in general is job wise very attractive for Open source developers as well. But so is Dublin and Munich. I can’t answer the question “name the top companies” because it’s a subjective topic. What I might consider to be the best, others may consider bad. My advice for candidates that are looking for top companies to work for is to first reflect on what is important to each of them and then search the company according to one’s own goals.

PI: Is telecommuting a better or worse solution than in-site employment according to your experience and customers?

BM: I am a big believer in telecommuting in building the best engineering staff. Open source engineers just tend to be scattered about, and that is the beauty of it. At the same time, I understand companies request for having someone on-site in particular situations. If a company is in the architecture stage, then it is probably best to have people huddle around the whiteboard. But, in a lot of instances, the work can be done off-site just as efficiently as it can be done on-site. Companies here in the U.S. still have a hard time realizing that, but they are allowing more and more flexibility as time goes on.

LC: Most developers claim a home office workplace is the best for them. They are happier, code better and I share this point of view strongly. But I’ve also heard from some of our candidates, that they need the business environment to be able to work efficiently and wouldn’t be happy with a home office.

PI: What features make the Linux job market in your area different?

BM: OK. Well, there is not as much adoption in government here as opposed to Europe. But, it is slowly happening. It is primarily in educational institutions if anything. But, we deal primarily with the private sector. So, there are many migration jobs there, but probably not much different than you see in other parts of the world. We may see more intriguing positions in start-ups as opposed to other areas of the globe based on the amount of VC funding we have available here.

LC: Europe has very welcoming attitude towards open source. This open up the market on a wide scale for lots of different and interesting types of jobs within the open source job market. There are also a lot of companies developing open source software based in Europe, which makes being here more exciting from the point of view of a developer.

PI: What skills are best achieved in terms of chances to find employment? What are paid the most?

BM: We do a fair amount of work in the Linux kernel area. There is still a severe supply shortage here in the United States with the demand that exists from corporations. We also spend time in the application space. That is very much a growing area with all the work that is being done in the mobile area in addition to the traditional work that continues. Another area that has experienced significant growth is large scale application work being done in PHP. Lastly, Ruby on Rails is being utilized by a lot of smaller/VC funded companies. Thus, there has been growth in that area as well. As far as pay rates, all of these areas have seen decent growth (10-20%+) in base salaries over the last couple of years.

LC: Kernel / near hardware developers are still really good paid jobs. When it comes to skills, I find the combination of them always more interesting than just the single one. A C/C++ developer with knowledge of assembly applying for a driver developer job is more likely to get hired than a maybe even better C/C++ developer without that knowledge applying for the same job.

PI: Is the market really dead for some skills or they can kick back like e.g. the eternal issue of Cobol mantainance[]?

BM: We only operate in the open source space, so I can not answer on some legacy based code that is out there. As far as open source based languages, most of them have had continued growth over the years. Some have experienced more dramatic growth, but they are all growing for the most part.

LC: I don’t think languages really “die” they just get used more, then less again, and then they have their 5 minutes in the spotlight and then they are back again in the background. Take Smalltalk for instance. I guess most people forgot about Smalltalk but it is a very high demanded skill by several companies, since their whole applications are being developed in it and will be for the next 10 years. The complete display system of the German train company was developed under Linux using Smalltalk as the main programming language []
and every single train, bus, or subway station display unit uses those applications on a daily base.

PI: Are certifications worth their money? If yes which ones?

BM: Yes, they are worth their money in certain circumstances. I highly encourage people to get a certification when they do not have the body of work over the years that will help them gain employment. So, the inexperienced folks get the biggest “bang for their buck” when speaking about certifications. But, even if you are an experience individual, a certification is not going to hurt you in your search for employment. The certifications that companies are most interested in in the system administration area are the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) [] and the Novell Certified Linux Engineer (NCLE) [].
The main reason for the success of these two is their “hands-on” component. Outside of the system administration area, we see companies interested in Zend Certified Engineers (ZCE) [] for PHP professionals and MySQL certification [].

LC: In general I’d say they are worth their money. Since most developers or Administrators already have the knowledge, it’s a good reference to prove swiftly their future companies that one understands his work deeply. The LPIC [] is very appreciated and we believe it is the best generic certificate available. It does not cover only one system - looking at it from a point of view of dealing with an operating system that has various distributions, it makes a lot of sense.

PI: What’s the most common mistake in compiling a CV or in a job interview?

BM: In regards to the CV, please leave off the objective. Unless you have a detailed objective that is going to really tell me something, then leave it off. This is a common mistake made in the United States. In addition to the objective, provide solid detail about your work at each company without the CV being too long. In addition to the duties at each position, make a list of accomplishments that you achieved that went above and beyond the scope of the position. In regards to job interview mistakes, there are a whole host of them. But, a critical factor is to make sure you, the candidate, interview the company as much as they interview you. You want to be yourself and make sure that there is a good fit. Do not try to be someone in the interview that you are not. Ultimately, it will not be a happy ending if they end up liking the person who is not really like you.

LC: The biggest mistake candidates make so far is that they leave out most of their skills they know, even the ones, they use most frequently. The second biggest mistake they make is that they leave out details about their work, for example additional projects they’ve been working on.

PI: What are ongoing trends and your expectations for the short/long range future?

BM: The trends here in the United States is that open source software continues to gain momentum in the marketplace. So, the future is bright in the long term. The only hiccup that could be faced in the short term is the effects of a downturn in the economy. Those have yet to play out, so we are not sure what is going to happen. But, at the moment, there is still far more demand than supply for open source professionals in the U.S., so outlook is strong.

LC: I’ve been observing a stronger demand for open source embedded systems and believe, this sector is permanently underestimated and that a lot of things will occur in the future regarding it.

Author: Fabrizio Bartoloni
Source: Punto Informatico
Licence: Creative Commons licence

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great Time to Make a Name for Yourself

There have been a lot of articles coming out recently as the recession permeates to the technology sector. Largely unaffected by the financial turmoil until a couple of months ago, you are now seeing more technology companies reducing their earnings expectations for the current and upcoming financial quarters. Luckily, open source based companies have been one bright spot. While they may not be hiring as robustly as they were earlier in the year, they are also not trimming their staff levels like other parts of the technology sector. And, we still see a high demand for Linux kernel engineers, application developers, etc. in some of the highly concentrated technology hubs in the country.

With all this turmoil, we tend to spend a lot of time providing advice to individuals on how to weather the downturn. Joe Brockmeier of ZDNet provides a lot of beneficial points in a recent blog posting . He talks about staying active with open source projects, and thus communicating with a lot of other open source developers throughout the world. This all prepares one for their next employment opportunity if they are indeed looking for one.

Therefore, now is the time. Whether you were recently part of a workforce reduction or you happen to work for a company that is closing for an extended period of time during the holidays (we are seeing more of this this year), you need to position yourself properly. As I have said in the past, I have been fortunate to witness a number of individuals who have made great strides in their careers by making a name for themselves through their open source contributions.

The key to their success is providing patches for projects that have a strong following. Now, by no means am I downgrading the lesser known projects out there. They are very relevant as well, and I encourage people to participate in any project that they have a passion for. But, if one of your goals is to turn your open source contributory work into full-time employment, you must look at who the active members are in the project. By analyzing these individuals, you should be able to tell if they are getting paid to continue their work in that project. If indeed they are, then there is a likely chance that you might be offered employment by that company if you are able to provide useful code to that project.

Overall, you have a choice to make. You can either wallow in a state of mediocrity and be depressed about the current state of the economy, or you can utilize your skills to provide beneficial code to an open source project that stirs your passion. And, as the economy improves (it is bound to at some point), you will reap the benefits. The beauty of open source is that everyone has an equal chance at making a name for themselves, and now is a great time to get started.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thoughts from a Kernel Developer/Kernel Manager on Telecommuting

This is a great interview with Lars Marowsky-Bree (LMB) by our partner firm, Linux Lancers, on the benefits of telecommuting. As you know, I am a big believer in allowing such an arrangement to produce the best engineering staff in the open source space. Hopefully, companies will continue to listen to people like Lars and realize the necessity to offer talented engineers the ability to work from home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Article on Datamation Featuring HotLinuxJobs

Datamation released an article today featuring an interview that I had with the author of the article, James Maguire. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his interest in the Linux/Open Source labor market. He was very intrigued to learn more about it, and I appreciate his interest. Lastly, I would like to thank him for his spin on it. Not sure I would ever consider myself a Zen master, but I enjoyed his take.

As has been mentioned on numerous occasions in the past, we always look forward to discuss the Linux employment market with whomever is interested in learning more.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Collaborative Effort to Attract Developers

Very interesting post on Techcrunch today about 20 startup companies in Colorado collaborating to attract developers to their companies. Here is the official site detailing their recruiting program.

As Michael Arrington mentioned in his post, this is also something that I have not witnessed during my time in recruiting. It will be interesting to see the success rate or their effort. I am sure a mention on Techcrunch does not hurt the pool and quality of candidates they will get to choose from.

There is one thing that could bring challenges to such a large collaborative effort. What happens when more than one company is interested in the same person. Does a price war ensue? I am sure these companies have hopefully discussed this already. But, it could be interesting to see what happens if that were to arise. Hopefully, there would not be enough turmoil that would prevent them or other communities from engaging in this process again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Article on How Not to Get an IT Job

Here is an article from last week on Datamation by James Maguire. Has a few interesting points in it. Glad that James referred to comments from Nick Corcodilos throughout the piece. Nick is usually spot on with his viewpoints of the marketplace.

Some of these 10 tips are very obvious. They go without saying, and end up being a little humorous. But, one that I get asked about a lot is the first tip. It is a must that you leave off a generalized objective. I can not tell you how many resumes I get that say, "I want to be part of a dynamic company....blah...blah...blah". Do not waste the space with such nonsense. In all honesty, I highly encourage people to leave out the objective in its entirety about 95%+ of the time. Your experience is going to say it all. The only time there is a need for an objective is if you are trying to steer your career toward a specific niche that might not be inferred from reading through your experience. So, when in doubt, just omit.

The other one is the notion of networking. It goes without saying that networking will never die. But, a lot of it can be done via messaging through social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Instead of picking up the phone, I would encourage technology based professionals to go to community based meetings. In the open source space, attending a LUG (Linux User Group) meeting is not a bad idea. Or, beyond that, there are usually meetup groups that deal with PHP, etc. in most cities. There is nothing wrong with the phone, but in-face contact is generally better and will produce better results. Especially, when you do not know the particular person firsthand.

As always, we highly encourage people that have questions about their job search to either shoot us an email, or you can visit our IRC channel. We look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Linux Article from CompTIA

Here is an article that CompTIA did recently about the Linux job market. They included a lot of information that I provided them with. We appreciate Kristen putting a lot of the comments throughout the article! We are always happy to provide any publication with as much information as we can about the Linux/Open Source labor market.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For People with Minimal Profesional Experience

This is a good article from outlining the possibilities for technology professionals to gain experience when finding it difficult to meander through the traditional means in order to get that relevant experience. If you want to move your career forward without stepping on every rung of the ladder, then open source is the avenue you want to take.

I tell people time and time again, open source based technologies allow you to showcase your talents without having to be the one that does best on an interview for a certain job. You do not have to be from an Ivy League school, or prove why you are still a good fit for the role even though you do not have the 7+ years of experience the company is looking for. Start contributing to open source and build your brand from there. If successful, the marketing of your skills will be as simple as doing a Google search. There is no substitution for a traceable record of your achievements toward an open source project.

For those interested in Linux kernel work, I highly encourage people to get involved with testing initially. It is a great way to get a feel for the development process and bring awareness to any noticeable bugs. Andrew Morton continuously says that there are never enough kernel testers out there. So, this is a great way to get your feet wet initially, and will hopefully lead you to kernel development.

Best of luck to all the upstart open source developers out there! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to email me, or you can visit me on our IRC channel. I will look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Great Guide for Developers Looking to Participate in the Linux Community

Jonathan Corbet recently released a wonderful guide on how a company can go about participating successfully with the Linux community. You can find the full guide here.

As more and more companies are adopting Linux as their development platform, it is a must that these companies learn how to interact with the community to make sure their kernel enhancements are successful in becoming part of the mainline kernel. Each structured entity always has its own way of operating, and the Linux community is no different. Thus, one must adapt to that culture in order to realize success. This is a great step by step outline on how to do just that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

DoJ cracking down on H1-B only job ads

I found this article on the Register very interesting. We have watched for the past few years as these consultancy firms have eaten up all the H1-B visa allotment every year. Now, it appears that the DoJ is finally on the ball.

The problem is that these consulting firms receive a large number of the allotment each year, which in turn puts companies that truly are in need of such visas at a disadvantage. The consulting firms request these visas even if they do not have an adequate amount of work for the individuals. But, they are willing to put them "on the bench" until the necessary work becomes available, since the wages that they are paying them are probably at least 20% below market.

Ultimately, it would be nice if the system worked the way it was suppose to. Essentially, a company has a position, and they fill it with an individual that is in need of a work visa after exhausting all other avenues.

Where the Guild is dead wrong in this article is on two points. One, from our vantage point, we do suffer from a shortage of technology professionals. In the open source space, there continues to be a rather large supply/demand discrepancy. Secondly, the individuals that we work with that are on an H1-B visa are doing senior level engineering work as opposed to entry level. I realize that there are a number of them that are probably doing entry level work, but just as with everything, you can not just lump all of these individuals together.

All in all, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. It appears that the DoJ has finally started to pay attention to something that has been going on for a few years now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Partnership with KernelTrap

We have just started a partnership with the site KernelTrap ( As a result, we will supply KernelTrap with the job postings on their job board. Since we spend about 70% of our time doing Linux kernel engineer searches, we figured this was a logical move.

Jeremy Andrews has done a fantastic job with KernelTrap over the years. He provides great information and summaries of the ongoings in the Linux kernel world. I have always thoroughly enjoyed reading the interviews he conducts with leading and influential Linux kernel engineers in the world today.

We look forward to working with KernelTrap, and hopefully this will turn out to be a successful venture!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Follow up on Ottawa Linux Symposium

I just wanted to write a quick follow up on the Ottawa Linux Symposium (OLS) that I attended last week. It was the first one that I attended, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ottawa is a wonderful city, and sadly this is the last one that is going to be there for the next few years. It moves to Montreal next year, due to them tearing down and redesigning the Congress Centre (Canadian spelling).

From my understanding, the attendance was down slightly from last year. But, it had a nice small conference feeling, so you were able to interact with quite a few individuals. And, there were some very interesting tutorials by leading Linux kernel developers throughout the week. All in all, a lot of good information to digest.

My Birds Of a Feather (BOF) session was on Wednesday evening. Going into it, I was unsure of the audience I would attract. Being that my session was nearly the only one without a technical bent to it, I was traveling in the world of the unknown. But, I had to take that chance, since they finally allowed me to speak. Thanks goes to Andrew and the rest of the crew for giving me the opportunity.

Luckily, the audience I received surpassed my expectations. I thank all of those who took the time out of their schedule to listen to the information I was presenting. The 45 minute presentation was followed by a Q&A session that lasted another 45 minutes. I was shocked! There were wonderful questions and dialogue between the various Linux kernel developers in attendance. I was thrilled to see the thought that a lot of the developers have put into thinking about their careers. These people truly see the benefit that open source software participation has on their growth, both professionally and personally.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at OLS. I am sure that it will continue to be a successful conference for years to come, and perhaps I will get a chance to speak again in the future.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Growth in Open Source Related Jobs

Bill Snyder last week wrote a good blog entry on the growth in the open source labor market. The information was gathered through an O'Reilly research report. It provides a good overview of the marketplace.

The interesting part is the final section on how open source is under the radar screen. Just to show you how much, this blog entry summarizes a survey done by Goldman Sachs and mentions open source software on the low end of the priority scale, according to CIO's. Just makes you wonder how much they know about their internal operations. In any regard, we will see which survey is more accurate, but I am betting on the O'Reilly one.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

OLS is next week!!!!

I will be headed up to the Ottawa Linux Symposium next week. My BOF is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, July 23 at 5:45PM. I look forward to hopefully seeing a good crowd there. In addition, if anyone would like to meet up during the conference, please feel free to send me an email at Look forward to visiting our friends to the north next week!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Overview of Novell's Linux Certification Slate

Steven Vaughan-Nichols summed up the new slate of Novell's available certifications after speaking with Jim Henderson of Novell. The newly developed certifications and some of the details are listed here .

The key is in the final paragraph. As it states, the Novell Linux Certified Engineer (NLCE) and the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) are the ones that individuals should focus on if they are looking for assistance in their job search. While it is fine that they offer different levels below these two certifications, such as the Novell Certified Administrator (NCA) or the Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT), do not expect companies to be explicitly looking for people with these certifications. The only value that can be gained from these is if you feel it is necessary to achieve this level of knowledge before you go for the more senior certifications. Otherwise, I would not bother spending the money for this level of certification.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How Google Values Open Source Work

A couple of interesting pieces of information, as it results to recruiting, came out of Stephen Shankland's interview with Chris DiBona from Google. They are as follows:

SS: Is it easier to get hired at Google if you have experience maintaining your own open-source product or patch?
CB: If you have made a name for yourself in open source, clearly it helps. If you have a healthy project in open-source, I believe it helps. One thing I see on hiring committees is when somebody has an open-source history, it's really great. You can just look at that history. Interviews are great, but they're not very deep. They're only 45 minutes long. So how can you really get a feel for if a person is good at programming, at computer science?

SS: Or at social relations, for that matter.
CB: Open source really reveals that incredibly quickly. You can look at their code, at their activity on mailing lists, how they deal with bugs from real people, and real user problems. That's an incredible resource.

Just as has been discussed many times in the past, open source project work has the ability to assist you greatly in your next job search. Your next potential employer will be able to get a look at your programming skills, but just as Chris mentions, they also view your community interaction closely. I have seen a lack of professionalism hurt developers in the past. So, always remember, somebody is watching you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Follow up on Zend layoff

There has been a lot written this week about the Zend layoff. It started on Techcrunch with this posting by Erick Schonfeld, and has swirled into a debate as to who is going to acquire Zend. All very interesting to say the least. But, there has been speculation for years about them.

I was able to gather a little bit more on these layoffs. From what I am hearing, the layoff primarily consisted of contractors that were already done with a project that they were working on. I have not been able to confirm any notable PHP developers that work there on a full-time basis as being ones that were laid off.

It will be interesting to see if they get acquired, but I am not sure at this point if these layoffs are that big of news. I could easily be wrong, so we will see.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Great to See Harvard Teaching Open Source

Having gone to business school, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Matt Asay's blog the other day about Harvard including a case study that involves open source in the Harvard Business Review. I always expected this to come, albeit perhaps a little earlier. But, as the saying goes, better late than never.

The biggest benefit to this though is that it is not limited to just Harvard. Anyone who has gone to business school has probably done their fair share of Harvard Business Review case studies. Therefore, graduate students across the land and abroad will probably get a chance to take a peak at this case study. As a result, the knowledge base on open source continues to climb.

In addition to weighing the pros and cons of utilizing open source software in a corporate environment, I believe the business schools will also start to analyze to great length the collaboration scheme that is open source if they have not started doing so already. That is of course the core of open source system and what makes it tick. They will try to dissect it to see if they can produce the same results in other areas of the corporation. That is what is really compelling, at least from my vantage point.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Selected for a BOF at OLS (Ottawa Linux Symposium)

Wow!! Great excitement that my BOF proposal has been selected for OLS this year! OLS is a show that I have always had a strong interest in, since it is essentially the de facto standard for technical conferences that entertain Linux kernel engineers. I am very appreciative that they are finally giving us a chance to speak. I am looking forward to this show, and I hope to see some of you there. I will provide more information at this conference approaches.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Article on the Ramifications of Social Networking Sites for Job Seekers

This is a good article in Businessweek that goes through some of the ramifications of your public profile on social networking web sites. I know not everyone will agree, but I tell people to lean on the side of conservatism when building your profile.

However, perhaps the most important part of the article is that they ACTUALLY mention displaying your open source contributions on your profile. Here here to Timothy Lee of the Cato Institute for throwing in a little open source mention in a Businessweek article. Makes a good article even more enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Where have the PHP developers gone?

It seems as though there is a lack of PHP talent in the marketplace that has intensified over the last 6 months or so. In some of the select markets where we are always searching for good senior level PHP talent, it has been very slim pickings as opposed to just a year or two ago. Now, we have other areas where we experience the same phenomenon, especially in the area of Linux kernel engineers over the years, but the PHP market was not always that way. So, the question is, why is that the case? Here are a few of the reasons that I have come up with, but I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

1. PHP developers have moved to Ruby on Rails. That is one that I use to hear quite a bit. There is no doubt that there is some truth to that statement, but recently I have started to question it. Lately, I have spoken with a few PHP developers that ultimately became enthralled with RoR and thus made the switch. However, after developing with RoR for a year or so, they find themselves back where they started in the PHP world. And, that is by their own choice. So, I know that it is indeed taking some PHP developers away, but I am not as convinced as I was earlier that it is taking as many as I thought it was.

2. All the good talent already has jobs. There is no question that this is very much true. The market in our space is still a good one, and if you are a good engineer, there is no doubt it is not that hard to find a good position. But, even with that being said, before I would always see a new crop of PHP engineers emerge and join the ranks of their senior brethren. For some reason, I am not seeing the same in today's market. Perhaps we can go back to number one with this one, and all of the "up and coming" engineers, if you will, are more interested in RoR than PHP. I have not been able to come up with a conclusion on this as of yet.

3. The talent lies outside of the U.S. border. Well, that is a given just like everything other area of open source. We have made great strides in this country, but we are still behind the likes of the European Union in developing open source talent. And, I think you can lump PHP into this equation. I have seen a lot of engineering schools embrace Linux and other open source software into their education programs, but this takes some time to evolve. So, we are probably on the right track (somewhat), but we have a way to go yet.

4. Consulting firms are eating up all the talent. This is the one that I have come to believe might be the most crucial out there. It appears that lately when I come across a good senior PHP developer, they are tied to some consulting firm. Essentially, these consulting firms are applying for as many H1-B visa applications as they can, and then bringing in some of that talent that lies overseas. Why this is well and good, it does not help out the organization that is looking for a PHP developer to be their employee. They are nearly forced into the situation of having to deal with a consulting firm due to the lack of talent in the marketplace. And, ultimately this might be a hinderance in keeping these talented individuals on our soil long term. That is if they choose to stay. The consulting firm might just keep their visa current for as long as they can engage in client projects, and then send them back to their homeland if things dry up for that particular firm. Instead, a company that is able to bring this person on as an employee might fill out the necessary paperwork to try to get this person the documentation to keep this individual in the country for the long haul and thus preserving technical talent that this country desperately needs.

So, that is just a few of the areas that I feel might be causing this imbalance in the marketplace. But, I would like to hear from anyone that might have input on this as well. Look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Status of the Open Source Labor Market

I have been contacted by a number of Linux engineers recently asking me about the status of the market. Everyone seems to have been sucked in by all the rhetoric about the looming recession or already being in one. I leave that debate up to the economists, but I figured it was worthwhile to let people know what we see from our minute vantage point.

The fact of the matter is that the market for established Linux/open source based engineers is still relatively strong. Overall, I would tend to say that the number of openings that I see is down slightly, but nothing drastic. That probably does not hold true for the entire labor market. I watched an interview yesterday on CNBC with the President and CEO of Craigslist, and they have seen their first negative growth in overall job postings since 2001. But, luckily in tech land, and especially in Linux land, things are not as dire.

As a result, people are constantly asking me, "Why is that the case?" The worst market that we have witnessed was right after 9/11 and the bubble burst (not surprising). However, at that time, there was a lot of excess to get rid of. Things were way out of proportion; not too much different than the housing market in the last couple of years. It takes time to bring everything back in line.

This "slowdown" is much different. Even though the labor market and overall economy has been relatively strong the last couple of years, there is not a lot of excess. I do not expect to see the amount of mass layoffs (exception being in the housing and financial sectors) that we witnessed from some of the technology companies back in '02 and '03. In addition, we are fortunate that a lot of the technology companies revenue streams are pretty diversified throughout the globe, thus the emerging markets are assisting us greatly at this time.

But, I regress to the open source market specifically. The trend continues in regards to corporate adoption of Linux and other open source based software. As a result, corporations are always going to be in need of so called "experts" to assist them in any migration of platforms or modifications to software that they are making. Therefore, opportunities for qualified individuals will always exist.

So, the Linux/open source labor market luckily does not sync up with perhaps the rest of the market at this time. Be thrilled that you selected to contribute to the BEST way to develop software, and one that continues to provide growth for you both personally and professionally! Long live a strong Linux/open source labor market! At least let's hope that continues to be the case ;)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

And the Survey Says.....Aussies Anteing Up for Open Source Talent

According to a recent survey conducted by the Australian Open Source Industry Census, individuals that participate in open source are earning more than their counterparts down under. A synopsis of the survey was revealed in a recent LinuxWorld article .

It is a trend that we continue to see throughout the globe. Let's just hope that it continues. We strongly believe that it will!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Allow Participation if You Want the Best Talent

If your company wants the best talent on their team, please allow this talent to participate in open source projects! As long as their contributions do not violate the company's NDA, I am not sure why there is continued concerns about open source participation in some cases. Is this due to recent examples such as McAfee , or prior to that the likes of Tivo feeling corporate pressure as a result of their use of open source based software? Whatever the cause may be, it seems like the battle still has to be fought from time to time.

The reason why I bring this up is that we recently ran into this on a search we were conducting. In this case, a candidate for the opening had created a successful open source project over the previous 4-5 years. From all we were able to gain from the IP attorney, it appeared that this project did not violate the company's NDA. Even with that being the case, the company decided to stick to its' guns of not allowing employees to contribute to open source projects.

Thus, there still seems to be a fear factor when dealing with candidates that have contributed code to open source projects. On one hand, the companies love to see this involvement, because they can gauge the level of the candidate's development prowess. And, like I have said in the past, if your code is accepted in a particular project, it is a pretty good sign that we have a talented engineer on our hands. On the other hand, there appears to be great fear that somehow some of the company's code is going to find itself in open source projects. As a result, this code would have to be GPL'd, and the company could lose its valuable IP.

At the end of the day, there are always going to be risks with whomever you hire. But, I plead to the companies that prevent their engineers from participating. PLEASE find a way to have some trust in these individuals! I understand fully the investment that is at stake. But, if you want to take your organization to the next level, you are going to need the best talent. And, in these days of open source software, the best talent is contributing to projects.