Open Source

Want an IT job? Brush up on your Linux skills

Demand for Linux-related skills is outstripping supply as firms struggle to fill roles according to a survey of hiring managers.

tianhe-2.jpg
The fastest supercomputer in the world Tianhe-2, developed by China's National University of Defense Technology, runs a Linux-based OS.
Image: Jack Dongarra
Demand for IT professionals who know their way around a Linux terminal has grown to the point where firms are struggling to fill roles.

Of the 1,000 hiring managers and Linux professionals surveyed by Dice and the Linux Foundation almost 9 out of 10 said they had found it difficult to fill 'Linux-based positions'.

The majority of hiring managers (70 percent) say their companies have increased incentives to retain Linux talent, with 37 percent offering more flexible work hours and telecommuting, and 36 percent increasing salaries for Linux pros more than for other workers.

Half of those questioned said they would hire more Linux talent this year than in 2014 - with more than 9 out of 10 planning to take someone on in the next six months.

"This burst in Linux staffing, up four points over 2014, has been fueled primarily by the rise in open cloud platforms, Linux-based technologies and the innovative new products that run on them," the report states.

"Competition for Linux talent is accelerating, as the software becomes more ubiquitous," said Shravan Goli, president of Dice. "Hiring managers need to ensure they are offering the right set of incentives to attract talent."

Individuals with experience with or knowledge of the open source OpenStack and CloudStack platforms are being sought by 42 percent of hiring managers, with almost 1 in 2 predicting uptake of these technologies will fuel the need for Linux skills in 2015.

While Linux is used on about one percent of desktop systems it is the main OS for servers and supercomputers. So just what sort of Linux-based skills do hiring managers say they need?

  • 66% Systems Administration
  • 48% Systems Architect/Engineer
  • 45% Infrastructure Architect/Engineer
  • 43% Linux Application Development
  • 40% DevOps
  • 31% Linux kernel Development
  • 37% General knowledge of open source software and the collaborative development model
  • 28% Embedded Linux kernel development
  • 19% Linux device driver development

However, while their expectations of the popularity of these platforms and subsequent demand for talent may be high, the reality may be different. The proportion of firms adopting OpenStack and CloudStack is still low relative to public cloud platforms such as AWS and Google Cloud Platform - with some industry experts saying the model adopted by OpenStack has hampered its chances of widespread adoption.

The Heartbleed bug and other high-profile security vulnerabilities that came to light last year has led to increased interest in hiring Linux professionals who are able to "secure critical infrastructure", with 23 percent of managers saying security experience has influenced their hiring decisions.

Despite the coverage that Linux Containers and Docker has been receiving in the press recently only five percent of managers say that knowledge of containers has impacted their hiring decisions and just 19 percent of Linux professionals characterised it as "the biggest area of growth in the industry".

Linux professionals who can back up their experience with formal training and certification will stand a moderately better chance of finding employment - with 44 percent of hiring managers saying they are more likely to take on a candidate backed by Linux certfication.

Hiring managers from corporations, small and medium businesses (SMBs), government organizations, and staffing agencies were surveyed for the Linux Jobs Report. Respondents were based across the world but the majority were situated in the US.

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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