The open-source job shortage

Open source is making significant headway in the enterprise, but for mission-critical tasks it may need to wait until the talent matures to handle the technology.

I spent some time today with the IT team of a large enterprise. There has been talk of an open-source job boom, but what I heard today suggested a relative dearth of critical open-source talent.

In this company's case, the IT team needs developers with deep MySQL experience. It's easy to get a cursory knowledge of MySQL or other open-source technology, but that's not what this enterprise needs. It needs someone that knows how to scale MySQL to hundreds of millions of transactions. It's not a question of whether the technology can handle it, but rather whether the administrator of the technology can handle it.

Ideally, enterprises would simply pilfer this experience from their competitors. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, since their competitors are also waiting on them to hire, train, and battle-test employees, so that they, in turn, can pilfer the talent.

This is a short-term problem, but I suspect it's a significant problem for now. One of the main reasons this company is sticking with Oracle for now (other than the fact that Oracle is working fine for them) is that it can't hire local talent to scale MySQL like it needs. As experience with open source goes "into production," I suspect we'll see a lot more open-source software go into production, too. We just need a bit more time.

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