InfoWorld’s Bill Snyder has a nice story about the rising demand for open source skills in the enterprise.  Bill is quoting from Open Source in the Enterprise, written by Bernard Golden and published by O’Reilly media:

“…found that 5 percent to 15 percent of the positions now on the market call for open source software skills.”

I wholeheartedly agree that companies are increasingly looking for developers that have experience with open source products.

According to Bill:

“For this report, we focused primarily on jobs postings from Web sites of about half of all the Fortune 1000 companies. We counted the number of job postings that mention specific open source-related technical terms and tracked trends over time,” the report states

The methodology used doesn’t allow us to know if the job truly requires work with open source products, tools, frameworks > 90% of the work day, or simply asks for ancillary skills relating to open source products, tools, frameworks.  For example, looking for someone with Magneto experience to develop an ecommerce site is different than looking for a .NET developer who written against a MySQL database.

That’s why the 5% to 15% really doesn’t sit well with me.  It could overemphasize a set of skills without the reader understanding what the research question was and how to truly interpret the results.  I suspect that larger companies are looking for developers with a mix of experience with proprietary and open source products, tools and frameworks.

Second, and much more interesting, is there a salary differential between jobs calling for experience with open source products vs. proprietary products?  Again, the answer would depend on whether the job was truly an open source job or a job calling for some experience with open source products, tools, frameworks.

My advice, as always, takes a balanced approach.  Learn the latest open source products, tools, frameworks, but don’t forget to keep abreast of their closed-source alternatives.  The future belongs to those who can straddle both camps.