Developers skilled in open-source cloud technologies get jobs faster and command higher salaries, according to a survey of tech professionals from IBM.

Cloud and OSS skills - blog.jpg

“Respondents associate open source technologies with higher wages, more job opportunities, and more professional opportunities,” says IBM in The Value of Open Source in the Cloud Era.

Based on a survey of some 3,400 developers and IT managers, IBM found broad agreement about the value of open source skills and their importance in hiring decisions. Among just the hiring managers in the survey, 56% “agreed” or “agreed completely” that open source skills and experience were important factors in their hiring decisions.

A second report, this one from the Linux Foundation, found even stronger agreement among hiring managers about the significance of open source skills. In the Foundation’s survey detailed in its 2020 Open Source Jobs Report, 70% said they were more likely to hire a tech pro with these skills.

According to IBM, open source skills are especially prized because of the prevalence of cloud technologies. It’s not uncommon, says IBM, for an enterprise to use 8 different clouds. Citing The hybrid cloud platform advantage from its Institute for Business Value, IBM said there’s such a surge in hybrid clouds – a combination of public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises IT – that adoption will grow by 47% in the next three years.

In fact, that report found most vendors are now leveraging open source technology in some fashion in their cloud platforms.

The IBM survey on the value of open source found 70% of the respondents reporting they prefer working with an open source-based cloud platform. Only 7% preferred a proprietary one.

Open source software (OSS) was rated equal to or better than proprietary software by 94% of respondents.

Because of the mix of different vendor cloud services and the hybrid cloud growth, 54% of the respondents in IBM’s survey said learning cloud computing skills specific to a single cloud provider limits their professional growth.

Two-thirds believe that “experience with open source provides greater long-term value for my career than does experience with the technologies of specific vendors.”

It’s a reasonable belief, given that among the different companies represented in the survey nearly all said they were using open source software in some part of their operation.

In a blog post discussing the survey, IBM said, “These findings all point to one thing: Open source skills are in demand. Developing skills in open-source software that supports cloud technologies will do the most to advance your career.”

Photo by NASA on Unsplash


A More Benign Approach to Shadow IT

Shadow IT is one of the (many) things that keep system admins awake at night.

Right now, someone in every organization with more than a handful of workers is using an app they got from the internet that the IT department knows nothing about.

Unapproved technical tools – apps, cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, and personal devices – present potential and very real security concerns. They also come with not insignificant costs when multiple business groups buy duplicate solutions. By some estimates, 40% of spending on software and tech services occurs outside the IT department.

So common is it for a computer user to use a cloud service or download an app or tool to help them do their job that Microsoft says the average number of apps being used in an organization is around 1,000.

“80% of employees use non-sanctioned apps that no one has reviewed, and may not be compliant with your security and compliance policies,” Microsoft says, introducing a tutorial for using one of its products “to discover which apps are being used, explore the risk of these apps, configure policies to identify new risky apps that are being used, and to unsanction these apps.”

Hunting down and shutting off these apps and unapproved services does help with the security risk. But relying entirely on that approach is a never-ending policing effort that only contributes to the “Department of No” perception of IT.

A recent CompTIA article on the subject says imposing ever greater restrictions may even be counterproductive. “Enhanced rules may cause workers to venture outside of approved IT more, rather than less — especially if they feel their pain points are being ignored.”

The article suggests a more benign approach that actually allows some types of shadow IT uses while also educating workers about the risks and providing them with the functionality they want.

The latter is the approach the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs is taking.

“You have to give your customers options. If they don’t feel like they’re getting serviced properly from the central IT function, they’ll go find their own way, because they’ve got a mission to execute,” Dominic Cussatt, the agency’s principal deputy chief information officer, says.

He explained that the VA is developing portfolios of services from which customers can shop.

Reporting on Cusatt’s comments at a conference, FedScoop reported, “The idea is that these portfolios are ready to deploy, checked out from a security standpoint and with buys already in place.

“Said Cusatt, ’That ease of access helps them and helps them avoid seeking other options.’”

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com


Tech Trends Right Out of Science Fiction

At the start of every year, and often well into it, we’re bombarded with predictions about trends in every imaginable industry. Tech is no exception, and it may be the sector with the most experts issuing forecasts.

Recently, CBInsights published its own 12 Tech Trends To Watch Closely In 2021. What makes this list stand out is its almost sci-fi feel. This is no ordinary collection of trends.

Take quantum computing. Even if most of us have no idea what it is, we’ve heard enough to know that quantum computers are the coming thing and that their computing ability dwarfs anything we have today.

But CBInsights tells us that these computers have arrived. We hear about a Chinese quantum computer that last year solved an essentially unsolvable problem in a little over 3 minutes. The report reinforces the point that these computers are here now by noting that “equity deals to quantum computing startups set a new record of 37 rounds last year, an annual increase of 42%.”

The trend the report identifies is not about when these computers will be available on Amazon. Instead, it’s that “businesses will be forced to secure data faster than these computers can decrypt it.”

“The industry’s rising momentum is creating an arms race to secure data faster than quantum computers can decrypt it,” says the report, informing us that companies like IBM and Microsoft are already developing new encryption methods to address the coming problem.

That trend dovetails with the first of CBInsights’ dozen: the Chief Prepper Officer. “Companies shaken by the pandemic,” predicts the report, “Will start prioritizing resilience and turn to emerging tech as they look to onshore operations, build robust supply chains, and ready themselves for the next big crisis.”

Whether a company actually creates a Chief Prepper role, they are already investing in diversification of supply chains, sales and distribution alternatives and buying or developing AI forecasting tools.

As futuristic as these two trends seem at first glance, they fall back into the realm of good business practices with the CBInsights’ discussion.

One trend that still seems to have a foot in science fiction is the prediction about “affective computing.” The report predicts, “Businesses will prioritize building AI technologies that can interpret and respond to human emotions as they look to connect with consumers.”

The report tells us there already are startups that “use emotion AI to analyze elements of speech, like tone and vocal emphasis, to best match service agents and customers across industries.”

We read about how Amazon is using voice analysis in its wellness tracker to identify the emotions users may be feeling. And there’s s brief, but fascinating description of the auto industry’s use of AI. One existing application assesses driver fatigue. Hyundai and MIT are developing AI controls that “can optimize the environment of a vehicle based on passengers’ emotional states.”

Not every trend is as futuristic or novel. Some of the trends are familiar.

We’ve all heard about the workplace changes the COVID pandemic has caused or, like working from home, accelerated. Agreeing with the many predictions that remote work is here to stay, CBInsights tells us to “expect to see offices becoming increasingly like hotels used for short visits, and less like the cushy big tech ‘campuses’ that came into fashion in the pre-Covid era.”

“Many companies will see an irrevocable shift in office culture in the coming years. They will need to be prepared for a future where employees treat going into the office less like showing up at their home away from home, and more like a special occasion, like checking into a hotel.”

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash