February 20, 2014, 10:50 AM — Demand for people with Linux skills is increasing, a trend that appears to follow a shift in server sales.
Cloud infrastructure, including Amazon Web Service, is largely Linux based, and cloud services' overall growth is increasing Linux server deployments. As many as 30% of all servers shipped this year will be cloud services providers, according to research firm IDC.
This shift may be contributing to Linux hiring trends reported by the Linux Foundation and IT careers website Dice, in a report released Wednesday. The report states that 77% of hiring managers have put hiring Linux talent on their list of priorities, up from 70% a year ago.
The foundation study doesn't explicitly connect the shift in server usage to hiring, but Shravan Goli, the president of Dice, attributed increasing demand for Linux skills to cloud deployments as well as the rise of mobile applications. "A lot of the (mobile) services are built on open source systems," he said.
In the third quarter of last year, Linux servers accounted for 28% of all server revenue, according to the latest IDC market estimate. In the third quarter of 2012, Linux servers represented 21.5% of server revenue.
Dice has about 11,000 Linux job posting on its site, Goli said. "The utilization of the Linux operating system is moving more and more up the stack," he said.
According to the IDC data, losing ground in the server hardware market is Windows, which had 50.3% of all the server hardware factory revenue in the third quarter. The figure was 51.1% in the comparable year ago quarter. Unix systems experienced a revenue decline of more 31% year over year. This was a particularly weak market, however, with the server market declining 3.7% year to year.
Linux is "far and away" the platform of choice for cloud computing deployments, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT. King said the gains in Linux server revenue "would serve as some kind of supporting data for the uptick" in Linux hiring.
"IBM has seen the writing on the wall," King said, adding that IBM's investment is an effort to capture the same kind of momentum with Linux on its Power platform that it has had with its mainframe Linux.
More than 1,100 hiring managers globally were surveyed in the Dice and Linux Foundation study, as were more than 4,000 Linux professionals.
The survey cites a number of data points to support what it terms "explosive" demand for Linux professionals. Among its findings, included 35% citing an increase use of Linux throughout the enterprise. The number of managers who say Linux is "becoming more core to their business" increased by 10 percentage points from last year. (Dice Linux report PDF).
In total, 93% of the managers said they plan to hire Linux professionals in the next six months. Not surprisingly, 86% of the Linux professionals responding said that knowing Linux has given them more career opportunities.
A North American breakout of the survey data shows similar trends, but some differences in demand for Linux expertise. Globally, the highest demand is for developers, at 68%. But in the North America, the positions most sought are system administrators at 66%, followed by developers at 58%.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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