FOSS Skills that will Get You Hired This Year


employee-discussing-with-interviewerThe FOSS appeal seems to be growing. Industry pundits reveal that open source skills can be a great differentiator for aspiring tech candidates in 2014.

The sluggish economy and the high number of job aspirants entering the market are impeding IT professionals’ chances of landing a decent job or moving to a better one. No, it’s not just because of the sluggish job market, but also because of the yawning skills gap, which can thwart the career growth of tech professionals. In such a scenario, you can boost your employability by learning or honing your open source skills, which are expected to be increasingly in demand in 2014. So, which are the FOSS skills that can give a fillip to your resume and offer the most bang for the buck this year? We, at OSFY, spoke to industry leaders to seek answers to this ‘hot’ question and understand the recruitment trends in 2014

It’s OpenStack, NoSQL and Hadoop all the way

The rapid growth in the big data and cloud computing domains has pushed IT companies to look for a skilled workforce that specialises in these hot sectors. Industry experts believe that technologies like OpenStack, NoSQL and Hadoop will be game changers for enterprises in 2014.

The industry is moving towards adopting cloud computing in a massive way and technologies like OpenStack, NoSQL, Hadoop, Puppet, Chef, etc, have emerged as the de facto standards for an enterprise or organisation looking to develop a cloud strategy, believes Kavit Munshi, chief technology officer, EVP, Aptira. “This year will see high demand for job-seekers trained in OpenStack, NoSQL, Hadoop, et al, and cloud engineers with a good knowledge of automation technologies like Puppet and Chef, as well as with experience on PaaS services like CloudFoundry, etc. The big IT vendors like Cisco, HP, Dell, IBM, NetApp, Red Hat, VMware and many others have devoted significant resources to emerging cloud technologies like OpenStack, and have also formulated their go-to market strategies around the cloud. The availability of support options for enterprises from IT vendors around open source cloud technologies is going to drive enterprise adoption of these open technologies and generate a lot of jobs. OpenStack has become the de facto standard for open cloud design and deployments. Also, the new emerging FOSS technologies like NoSQL, OpenStack and Hadoop are changing the way traditional enterprises have thought of open source. OpenStack provides enterprise users with a lot of flexibility, scalability, great support from vendors, freedom from vendor lock-in and a very dynamic ecosystem to be a part of,” explains Kavit.

Skills in Web development will also be sought after

This year will also see Web development skills featuring high on the wishlist of hiring managers. According to industry leaders, skills like Drupal, PHP, HTML5, CSS, jQuery and jQuery Mobile will be in demand this year. Najeem M Illyas, senior technology architect at Cognizant Technology Solutions, explains, “One must know why these skills will be in demand. Companies are attracted to open source in order to reduce their overheads in development and maintenance. Open source software, such as server applications and tools, are freely available and maintained by open source communities. More and more professionals are contributing to FOSS. The availability of skilled resources in FOSS is a major attraction in the job market. FOSS capabilities in cross-platform application development are attractive to all levels of companies.” According to Illyas, Drupal skills are majorly in demand, and candidates with a background in PHP and MySQL development along with project experience in Drupal can thrive in the industry. But demand for mobile solutions is also increasing, with open source platforms extending Drupal capabilities to jQuery Mobile and other JavaScript-based UI techniques.

So what qualities do big firms like Cognizant Technology Solutions look for in prospective applicants? “We are hiring open source professionals to develop Web applications for our corporate clients. When it comes to project-specific hiring for FOSS, we look for core competency in the fields of Drupal and PHP, especially in the LAMP stack. Most of our hiring is based on the demand, but we are maintaining an open source development pool as well. Skills in HTML5 are also at a premium, as that’s what is required in the smartphone and tablet industry. Mostly, we look for people who have the flexibility to work with multiple technology stacks or with varied development and UI capabilities. Candidates should know enough about application performance bottlenecks and other security concerns,” says Illyas.

According to industry experts, Drupal is scalable and performs well when optimised as suggested by the open source community. But it performs poorly when employed with wrong configurations and incomplete optimisations. Developers also need to be aware of various non-functional requirements such as support for multiple browsers or various operating systems like iOS, Android, Mac, etc. With regard to cross-platform UI technologies, HTML5 is a much-desired skill for developers.

Boost employability with mobile app development skills

All those who want to ensure job security for the next few years should sharpen their IT skills in the mobile app development terrain. According to a study by Robert Half Technology, a leading technology placement company, an increased demand in this domain has made it challenging for firms to find candidates with the right mobile app development skills. K Murugesh Babu, business development manager, Products and Online Marketing at Agriya, a leading Web development company, shares that when it comes to mobile app development, Android is the hottest of them all. “Most users want to manage their productivity, daily activities, store data in the cloud, manage their websites, and do a lot of their work within a short span of time. Besides, the number of Android users is increasing at a rapid pace and so are their requirements. All of which has resulted in an increasing demand for mobile applications,” says Murugesh Babu. Agriya, a company that hires open source professionals, looks for candidates who have some basic knowledge about the technology they are going to apply. And experience and certified industry-specific skills are always a plus. “Listening and interpersonal skills are the major priority for any organisation. Most open source companies want applicants to have a thirst for learning new concepts, have the capability to understand them effectively and apply their knowledge appropriately to bring in the profits for their enterprise. They want applicants who work smartly,” adds Murugesh Babu.

All things Java

Experts believe that the job market is looking up in yet another booming segment-Java and the demand for proficient Java professionals will continue to grow in the years to come. Vineet Tyagi, associate vice president at Impetus, shares, “If you look at the IT recruitment trends, whether past or current, the demand for tech professionals with Java knowhow has never slackened but has only continued to increase manifold. Moreover, a perfect blend of Hadoop and Java skills is the order of the day as Hadoop is a Java-based framework. Impetus hires open source professionals and while recruiting, apart from strong domain knowledge, we look for skills like versatility, the ability to find solutions, an aptitude for self-learning and the ability to work on a multi-faceted platform.”

Programming skills are also coveted

Developers who wish to secure their foothold in the shrinking job market need to possess razor-sharp open source programming skills. Many studies indicate that there will be a surge in the demand for tech professionals armed with programming skills this year too. “There is a lack of true developers in the country and so programming skills will always be in huge demand. It’s not easy to master all the programming languages, thus there is a widening skills gap in this terrain. Job prospects are upbeat for prospective programmers who have knowhow on programming languages like PHP, Perl, Python, Ajax, C, C++, Ruby and more,” quips Manish Bhojasia, founder and director at Sanfoundry, a high-end technology training company.

Industry stalwarts also predict that getting equipped with the right set of storage skills can get you hired this year. Dr Rajeev Papneja, COO, ESDS Software Solutions Pvt Ltd, feels that the demand for storage skills will increase in the coming years-one of the major reasons being the exponential growth in data. “The SAN and NAS storage systems used by enterprises are very costly and SMEs are looking for a mid-level storage option, which would only be possible by going the open source route. SMBs constitute the major chunk of users and they are trying various ways and means to cut their IT costs. Besides, different kinds of companies require different skill sets. In general, you need to be well versed with as many open source technologies as possible with a very good understanding of all technologies. The more active you are in the open source community, the quicker your journey up the ladder to success,” says Dr Papneja.

Security skills are in demand too

Open source professionals with the right mix of proven security skills, professional certifications and government security clearances will have a competitive edge in the recruitment landscape this year. With the rise in sophisticated cyber crimes, cyber sleuths are now much in demand to secure valuable information systems. The advent of mobile technology has given rise to a new breed of professionals who work as Android penetration testing experts, iOS intrusion testing experts and more, says Tamaghna Basu, who works as a cyber security expert at an online shopping portal.

Bring the FOSS curriculum up to industry standards

At a time when these FOSS skills hold the promise of better jobs, the curriculums of most schools and colleges in India do not provide students the ideal exposure to open source software. So what do the experts have to say about this? “In the coming years, open source software will be an integral part of the curriculum. In fact, some schools have already introduced it in their prospectus. My child is in the 5th standard and is already programming in Java, and it is a part of the computer course in the school. It is really the popularity and the demand for certain software that drives curriculum in schools and colleges. As open source becomes more and more popular and the demand for open source professionals rises, schools and colleges will have no choice but to go with the flow. So, it is not a question of a choice between whether to teach OSS or not now, it is really a question of when-which I personally see happening currently,” says Dr Papneja.
Echoing similar views, Kavit Munshi says, “Colleges and schools in India need to radically update their curriculum as far as open source is concerned. We can see the emerging technologies and trends, and simultaneously find that the students at colleges in India are lacking in those technologies. We have been working with a lot of colleges around India to conduct OpenStack-based workshops. This helps students to hit the ground running when they are looking to get employed. We have also started a curriculum development programme to work with universities and colleges to introduce OpenStack and a cloud-based curriculum into their classrooms. This will give an edge to the students who enter the workforce in the near future.”

The verdict? This year is definitely a bullish market for all those who are armed with a bagful of FOSS skills. So, gear up and update your FOSS toolbox to make your presence felt in the job landscape!



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