Monday, December 21, 2009

Open Source Skills Earn You More Money

An article on CIO Update summarizes a study by Elance on technical skills that are in high demand, and thus results in higher compensation for those developers. PHP and MySQL stand out as two open source based software projects that receive high praise from the study. Good sign going into 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Will Developers Leave Oracle Over Sun Deal?

There has been a lot of debate recently, especially in the European Union by the European Commission, as to whether or not to give the stamp of approval to the pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. The controversy is centered around MySQL. Being that Oracle is a database company with an established product that provides them with healthy margins, why would they put forth the effort to make sure that MySQL continues its success? As always, arguments abound at nearly every angle. And, I am not going to put in my two cents on this.

However, IF they slowly derail MySQL, as many fear, what will be the outcome? Will it be the second coming of the Novell/Microsoft partnership fallout? As many probably remember, since it was not that long ago, there were some negative effects for Novell after signing the partnership with Microsoft. Most notably, Jeremy Allison, among others, decided that he preferred to be an employee of another company as a result of the agreement.

Oracle employs a number of open source developers. And, their contributions to the Linux kernel should not go unnoticed. For all intents and purposes, they have been a fine open source citizen. But, if the acquisition is eventually approved and there is a slow demise of MySQL, will some of the open source developers at Oracle take umbrage and leave?

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Open source developers historically have been very true to their beliefs. And, as we have more and more proprietary companies intertwining themselves with open source derived entities, the landscape gets murky. Perhaps it is something that Oracle should give a thought to as they proceed. They may have done so already. Who knows? But, at the end of the day, a company is only as good as its employees. The thought of an exodus by developers is a real threat for these companies and is one of the great nuances of working in the open source software space.

I would thoroughly enjoy hearing peoples opinion on this. I know it is a touchy subject matter, but one that has potentially damaging ramifications for a company that is not cognizant of the feelings of its own developers.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Mention of Open Source Skills Being "Hot"

Another firm doing a study, in this case Foote Partners, has revealed that an engineer possessing open source skills is poised for a bright future. This blog posting by Ann All summarizes it nicely. Overall, the discussion is about the change in staffing patterns moving forward as a result of companies making more and more of their operations automated, thus eliminating some positions that existed in the past.

As depressing as that may appear at first, she goes on to mention that open source operating systems is a bright spot. I think it would be fair to say that more than just the os is in a good position. For instance, she summarizes that social media continues to gain strength. Within that, Python is one of the standouts among an array of more proprietary based software. However, last time I looked, Facebook is the largest social media site in existence. And, PHP is the main language used for that site to my knowledge. Therefore, PHP should get a mention, as well as Ruby on Rails.

Needless to say, it always is nice to see more and more studies realize the importance open source software continues to play in corporate environments. Thus, the number of positions continues to rise. Here's to the trend continuing as we embark on a new decade!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Article on

Once again, a little self promotion here. has published a new article that I wrote about where we have been and where we are going, in regards to the labor market for open source software professionals. Hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Linux Jobs Growing Faster Than Other Technical Categories

Linux related jobs continue to outpace its counterparts. An article on goes into details of the findings from data collected by

Not surprisingly, the number of overall technical jobs have been reduced sequentially on a year by year basis. However, the important thing to note is the fact that open source related jobs are growing at a faster clip than Windows and other technical areas. More and more enterprises have adopted open source software into their data centers. This trend continues to this day. Hopefully, in the future we will not only be talking about open source jobs outpacing Windows jobs from a percentage standpoint, but we will be mentioning that there are more overall positions available that require an open source skill set than Windows.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Universities Seeing the Open Source Light

I just recently learned about UCOSP. The details of the program can be found here.

We are continually seeing academic institutions realizing the benefits of having their student body taking part in open source development work as part of the curriculum. I give credit to those universities or colleges that are participating in such activities. For too long, aspiring software engineers have frowned upon the completion of a degree, primarily due to the lack of relevance their studies provide them upon graduation. This no longer needs to be the case.

As this program shows, it is possible for students to make meaningful contributions to an open source project while attending the school. Not only does this provide them with "real world" experience by collaborating with engineers throughout the world; but, it also provides them enhanced opportunities for securing employment at the completion of their degree. It is a win-win for all involved.

Hopefully, as more institutions become educated on the benefits of such a program, we will continue to see them evolve. Advanced education in the computer science arena no longer needs to be something done in the past, but something that provides great benefits for the future.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Florida Linux Show Update

I will be speaking at 9:30AM this Saturday, 10/24, at the Florida Linux Show. It is at the Radisson Resort Orlando-Celebration in Kissimmee, FL. Look forward to seeing anyone there that will be in attendance. Looks to be a promising event!

Friday, October 16, 2009

All About the Brain Power

Here is an enlightening article about the core of open source. Too many companies get so excited about open source based on the price tag they associate with it. Lest they forget about what makes it such great software to begin with. Behind every great product is a great brain, and in the case of open source, we are talking about thousands of great brains. As has always been the case, the power of collaborative development bears fruit for all involved.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Helpful Hints In Avoiding the Ax

Given the state of the labor market, the one thing you want to try to limit is your chances of getting fired. Of course, there are plenty of instances (workforce reduction, etc.) that are out of your control. However, it is imperative that you take care of behavior that is in your control.

In this Datamation article, Eric Spiegel outlines three steps you can follow to limit your chances of getting the ax. All three are very relevant, but one in particular sticks out to me. The notion that you, as a developer, must promote your own work.

I agree completely with this. In a number of cases, this can be quite difficult for the developer. There are a number of highly skilled engineers that tend to be introverted. They might not necessarily be the best "sales person" for their own code. If that happens to be you, it is time for you to do your best to break out of your shell per se. Make sure that not only your team, but others in the organization, are aware of your accomplishments. With that being said, you do not want to come across as cocky, whereby you hurt the chemistry you have with your team members. But, there is nothing wrong with stating your accomplishments in a professional manner that results in your determined worth to the organization.

In this day and age of corporate expense scrutiny, you must do everything in your power to show your worth. Following these couple of easy steps will assist you in realizing your career goals.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Do Companies Give Tests to Open Source Developers?

Recently, I have had a couple of companies give programming tests to individuals that have had code accepted for an open source project. Why is that? Sometimes I have a hard time understanding what is going to be gained by doing so. I have always been under the impression that if your code is accepted by a particular project, that is a testament to your abilities to program in that language. At the very least, it is the perfect opportunity for a company to take the necessary time to review the code to determine ones ability. Most of the time, below par code is not allowed into an open source project. Just the process of elimination given the competition.

However, for some apparent reason unbeknownst to me, that universally visible code is not enough. Again, I ask why is that? Corporations constantly are trying to evolve the hiring process at their companies. Meanwhile, they lose sight of the core of the mission at hand. While all this "trickery" takes place with exams that usually have gray areas, people that could be great assets to achieve the corporate mission are passed over. Perhaps that does not hurt them tremendously at the moment given the economic environment, but over time, it will provide a challenge for them.

Everyone wants to find the best person for the job. That should be the goal of every open job requistion. In order to do so, perhaps some of the processes that are put in place should be examined given the position at hand. Does a person that has viewable code out there need to be given a debatable quiz on code structure? I, of course, think not. But, I realize that is just my opinion. Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Presenting at Florida Linux Show

I am looking forward to presenting at this years Florida Linux Show. The web site with full details on the show can be found here. It is shaping up to be a good show, with Red Hat being the title sponsor. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Training Courses by the Linux Foundation

If anyone is headed to LinuxCon in September, they may want to take a look at the training classes the Linux Foundation is offering. A full listing is here . They obviously have a number of very highly talented developers at the Linux Foundation. I am curious to see if any of them are going to take part in leading these sessions. If anyone decides to participate, please let us know your feedback. I am curious to see the success of these courses.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fantastic Open Source Institution

Here is an article about Seneca College's School of Computer Studies that explains how their embrace of open source software has paid huge dividends for their students.

I have stated over the years that open source software provides an institution the opportunity to become relevant again. There was a time when computer science majors thought it was a waste to be in school, because the things they were learning were out of touch with what was happening in "the real world". Well, that no longer needs to be the case. And, Seneca is a perfect example of that. They are allowing their students to engage in an open source project in a meaningful way, and thus their students are well prepared after their time spent at this institution. Kudos to you Seneca College for realizing the benefits open source software can have on the relevance of an institution of higher learning. Hopefully, we will see more colleges and universities south of the Canadian border following your lead.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Good Summation of the Job Market

Here is a survey that was released last week that provides an update on the labor market at the moment. There are a lot of them out there, but this one lines up pretty strongly with what we have been seeing. In a nutshell, it is fairly stale at the moment. Periodically, there are small signs of life, but the sense of urgency from corporations is not there at the moment. Thus, the positions that are open tend to remain open for a period of time. Hopefully, this mind set will change as we move into the third quarter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Developer Salary Update

A few weeks ago, Datamation came out with an article that summarized salary levels for IT professionals over the last five years. Now, they have revealed the salary levels of developers over the last five years. The data can be found here .

What it shows is not a lot of overall movement in salary levels during this period of time. And, in the case of software engineers, it shows that the average salary of a developer in a large corporation actually went down a little over 10%. Minimum gain for those in mid-sized organizations.

I know their data spans a greater swath than that of ours, but our findings would be much different. While the few year span after stock market crash of '01 would show salary levels remaining level, we did see a jump in compensation in '05 -'07. Given the current economic climate, we have once again seen things level off. But, throughout that five year time frame, the average salary of Linux/open source professionals has increased 10+% in most cases. And, in some particular areas of open source, the increase is even a little bit greater. So, perhaps this is just happening in the areas that we have worked in. However, I ultimately believe it is just a simple supply/demand situation. We will be curious to see if the trend continues once the economy gets back on its feet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Linux Certification Article

Here is a new article from InforWorld discussing Linux certifications. It is always interesting to hear different view points. I know I have written about this in the past, but this is my brief take on Linux certifications as it relates to the article.

1. All in all, they are correct about who gets better mileage out of a Linux certification. It benefits the individuals with less experience the most. But, no matter your level of experience, I have never seen an instance where it hurts the candidates application.
2. As much as I like the idea of a vendor neutral certification, we definitely see more interest in vendor specific certifications. For whatever rhyme or reason, companies like the idea of having the certification for the software they have installed.
3. Lastly, I have never seen an instance where a Linux certification is seen as a red flag. Ultimately, if you are trying to cover up your lack of Linux exposure with the addition of a Linux certification (somewhat of an oxymoron), this lack of knowledge should become apparent during the interview process.

As always, there are situations that are outside the norm. This is just a general take on what we have seen in the marketplace over the years.

Articles on the new

Just wanted to do a little self plug and mention that the series of articles that I wrote for the new site are live. You can access them in the career guide section here .

Monday, May 11, 2009

Updated Article on IT Salary Levels

Here is an article by James Maguire at Datamation detailing out the trends of IT compensation over the last five years. Interesting to see the fluctuations. Can not completely figure that out, however, we do not spend the bulk of our time in traditional corporate IT. Most of it is spent on the development side. So, I will be interested to see those numbers when they come out.

From our vantage point, over the last nine years, we watched a plateau lead to a jump in salary levels back to a plateau. Perhaps you are seeing a little downward pressure at the moment given the economic situation, but we have not seen the fluctuations that have taken place in some of these categories. Nonetheless, if you are interested in seeing where you are at compared to the industry averages, take a peek.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Follow our Most Recent Jobs on Twitter

Our twitter page ( will include all the latest openings that we receive. It is a great way to keep up-to-date on all of our latest job openings.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Interesting Compensation Scale

This is a topic that is always heavily discussed. Compensation is always a key factor in any negotiation, even in the rare instances when it appears not to be. There are times when I do work with individuals that claim they do not care about the pay, but somehow it always creeps back up as the negotiation takes its course. It might not always be number one or two on the their list of top priorities, but it still always makes the list.

I always enjoy reading Joel Spolsky's articles/blog. In this case, he wrote an article for Inc. about compensation. The article can be found here . He informs us about the pay scales at his company, Fog Creek Software. He is of the belief that everyone in a certain labor grade receives the exact same salary. While there are people that will agree and disagree with this, I tend to not have a problem with it. I always admire his novel approaches in improving the workplace and developing a cohesive unit. Anyone that goes outside of the status quo and is willing to pursue a new path gets my vote.

The one potential challenge I see with his system as it relates to open source is in his matrix on the second page. If you are lacking years of experience, then you can only attain a certain labor grade, in this case a 9 for having a year or less of experience. If I were to implement this in an open source company, I would take out this criteria. I would solely focus on skill set and scope of the position. There are too many times when I work with extremely talented open source developers that might not have the years of experience as the person working next to them. Yet they have done some phenomenal things in the open source space in a very short period of time. Does that mean that they should be penalized from a monetary standpoint for not putting in their time? I think not. But, much like anything, it is open for debate. I just thought this is another area where open source differentiates itself from traditional business practices based on its development platform.

As always, I am curious to hear your thoughts on this. And, I would also be interested in finding out if there are any open source companies that have installed this pay matrix into their operation. If so, have you left it as is, or have you tweaked it?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Linux Foundation Launches Training Programs

The Linux Foundation just launched training programs in a couple of key areas; device driver development, application development and kernel debugging. The details of their press release can be found here .

I will be intrigued to see the interest level in these programs. I think it is very smart that they encompass the broad spectrum from kernel space work to application space work. I believe it was a very good idea to just focus on the development side and not the administration side. There are enough choices for administration individuals looking for education alternatives. It will be interesting to see if these programs effect the level of success Red Hat has with their kernel based training programs. Outside of that, I have just seen various universities offer these level of programs. Knowing that there has been an overall lack of supply of individuals with these skills sets, I am glad to see these programs put in place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Very Novel Idea When it Comes To Compensating Open Source Developers

I was very intrigued when I saw this today. Half of the revenue at The Development Cloud will be returned to the active contributors of the open source project that they have based their company on. They mention it as a first, and I would think that is correct. I have yet to see anyone else display this business model before. I will be very interested in seeing how this turns out.

I am curious to learn more about the details. If person A has released more patches than person B, do they get more of the revenue on a percentage basis? I presume this is something that their committee meeting that takes place every six months will determine. It appears that they will be paying contributors on a monthly basis via PayPal. All in all, it is very interesting. Essentially, these project contributors are almost 1099 based contractors, but instead of paying an hourly rate to a contractor, The Development Cloud only needs to pay these individuals as money comes in. It will be very interesting to see if this ends up shifting some open source based companies business models in the future. I wish The Development Cloud good luck, and congratulations on your innovative business model!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Very Interesting Take on H1-B Visas During the Recession

I found this posting by Bill Snyder on InfoWorld's site very interesting. The H1-B visa program in the United States is contested all the time. Bill's take is that due to the downturn in the economy, the H1-B visa program needs to be reduced if not eliminated until the economy rebounds. He makes some very good points along the way. As far as my opinion, I would probably not take it quite as far as him.

There is no question that the H1-B visa program is misused and abused. That has been the case for a number of years. I have seen time and time again where these "consultancy" firms will apply for visas when they do not even have enough work to go around. That is nothing new. Their process is to just pay these individuals while they are on the bench as they prospect for new projects to work on. Obviously, dealing with this over the years gives reason to reduce or suspend the H1-B visa program temporarily, especially given the economic circumstances we currently find ourselves in.

However, I pause about that notion when thinking thoroughly through it. The problem with it is government themselves. Like I mentioned, the program has been abused. But, how long has it taken the government to institute the necessary changes to curtail this misuse? They still have not taken care of it till this day. Thus, if we reduce or suspend the program, how long will it take them to get it to the appropriate number when the economy rebounds? On the surface, it seems fairly elementary. One could say reduce the overall number to 30,000 now and then bring it back to its current level when we return to a positive GDP number. But, when it comes to government initiatives, it never seems to go that smoothly. Therefore, I pause based on the slow reactive stance they have taken when it comes to this program.

In addition, I have assisted a number of current and past H1-B visa holders over the years. A number of these individuals have made a large impact in the work that they have achieved here. Some have gone on to receive their Green cards. Others have started businesses that have succeeded, and thus created jobs. Can we afford to let these individuals go to other countries and prosper? I think not.

Personally, I believe the focus at the moment should be on the creation of jobs as opposed to who is best suited for the limited number of openings that exist. Companies can easily take their openings and make them available to one of their overseas offices. Do we want to push them to those alternatives when we need to focus on one side of the equation (job creation), and the other side will take care of itself (low unemployment).

Overall, in a perfect world it would be wonderful if the H1-B visa program would be set up with elastic measures in place to make sure every American technical worker has a chance to succeed. But, that would mean we would need to be proactive as opposed to reactive. More often than not, we find ourselves in a reactive position.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is an Asterisk Certification the Next Popular One in the Open Source Space?

Just got done reading the VAR guys blog post about his belief that an Asterisk certification is the next hot certification in the Open Source space. Very interesting to say the least.

It is obvious that Asterisk has been gaining momentum. Recently, we have started to see some specific Asterisk positions pop up from service providers. We have only been engaged in a few searches in this area, but I must say that based upon those searches, it was clear that the talent level does not meet the demand. So, if there are people trying to maneuver their careers in a new direction during these turbulent times, it may not be a bad idea to take a peak at some of the Asterisk certifications.